"Filing" means to give documents for a case to the court. You can bring or mail the documents to the court, file by email, or file documents electronically (e-file).

Make a copy of all documents you file for the other party, and a copy for your records.

Where to File

A document starting a case – usually called a complaint or petition – must be filed with the court that has the authority to handle it. This is called jurisdiction.

The superior court has six divisions, and each of those divisions has jurisdiction over specific types of cases.

Civil Division

  • General civil cases, including breach of contract, personal injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death
  • Eviction, foreclosure and land disputes
  • Small claims
  • Sexual assault and stalking
  • Appeals from the Probate Division

Criminal Division

  • Felony and misdemeanor cases
  • Criminal record expungements and sealings
  • Treatment courts, including adult drug, juvenile drug, mental health, and driving under the influence cases.
  • Some civil cases, such as civil suspensions of driver's licenses, contested fish and wildlife fines, and appeals of decisions involving traffic and municipal ordinance violations.

Environmental Division

  • Appeals from municipal panels, Act 250 decisions, and the Agency of Natural Resources and Natural Resources Board
  • Municipal enforcement actions
  • Agency of Natural Resources and Natural Resources Board enforcement actions

Family Division

  • Divorce, separation, and civil union dissolution
  • Parentage
  • Child support and child custody
  • Modification and enforcement of child support, child custody and visitation orders
  • Relief from abuse
  • Juvenile delinquency and child abuse or neglect
  • Caring for people mental illnesses and developmental disabilities.

Judicial Bureau

  • Traffic violations
  • Municipal ordinance violations
  • Fishing, hunting, and trapping violations
  • Alcohol and tobacco violations
  • Burning and waste disposal, environmental and lead hazard abatement violations
  • Cruelty to animal violations
  • Non-criminal marijuana violations

Probate Division

  • Adoptions
  • Guardianships
  • Emancipation
  • Correction and establishment of birth, death, and marriage records,
  • Probate of estates, trusts, and wills

Supreme Court

The Vermont Supreme Court reviews cases from state courts and agencies.

 

After the initial petition or complaint has been filed with the court, all other documents are filed in the clerk's office of the court handling the case.

Notarization

Many documents filed with the court must be notarized. You can tell if a notarization is required by looking at the signature section. If you see a place for "Signature of notary public," (or something similar) the document must be notarized.

Court staff can notarize documents filed in person. Many banks and town clerk’s offices also offer notary services.

Filing in Person or by Mail

You can file paper documents in person at the court, or mail them to the court. If you are filing something that requires a filing fee, you must pay the fee when you file. Contact the court to ask about payment options.

If you are filing in person, take the documents to the clerk's office. You can also put documents in the court’s drop box. There is a drop box located at the entrance of each courthouse.

If you are filing by mail, address your envelope to the proper division of the court. The Court Locations web page provides addresses for all state courts.

Filing by Email

You can file documents in an existing case by email. To do this, email the court where your case is being handled and attach the documents you want to file. You can find email addresses for all courts on the Court Locations web page.

If you are filing something that requires a filing fee, you must pay the fee. Contact the court to ask about payment options. If you do not pay the fee, your filing may be delayed or dismissed.

 

Subject line

Include the case number and court where filing is made in the subject line. For example:

Subject: 22-SC-9999, Windsor Civil Division

If you do not know your case number or where your filing was made, contact the Information Center: 802-652-1900.

 

Signature

The documents you file must include a signature.

  • You can use an electronic version or scanned copy of your signature.
  • The signature can use your typed name with /s/ in front of it. For example:  /s/ Jane Doe 

Other kinds of signatures are also allowed. If you have questions about signature options, contact the Information Center: 802-652-1900.

E-Filing

People representing themselves can choose to file documents electronically. This is called e-filing. The Vermont Judiciary uses a system called Odyssey File & Serve (OFS).

If you choose to e-file, you must e-file for the entire case. You cannot switch back and forth between e-filing and paper filing. 

 

Fees

There are additional costs if you choose to e-file:

  • $14 fee for the first time you file in a case using OFS. For example:
    • You are starting a new case.
    • You used to have an attorney representing you, but now you are representing yourself and want to use OFS.
    • You are the defendant in a case and you are using OFS to file your answer.
  • 2.89% processing fee if you pay by credit card.
  • $1.00 per case if you pay by eCheck.

Some case types do not have filing fees. These include Requests for Relief from Abuse, Requests for Abuse Prevention for a Vulnerable Adult, and Requests for Orders Against Stalking or Sexual Assault. There is no OFS fee in any of those cases.

You do not have to pay the OFS fee if you are asking to waive fees. If the court decides you do not qualify for a fee waiver, you will have to pay the fee then.

 

Register for an E-filing Account

Go to Odyssey File and Serve web page and click on “Register.”  You will need a valid email address. After you complete the online form, you will get a confirmation email.  Click the link in the email to complete the registration process.

 

OFS Help

The Electronic Filing web page includes links to Odyssey File & Serve User Guides and how-to videos.

 

"Flattening" Fillable PDF Files

If you are e-Filing a fillable PDF (which includes all court forms posted on this website), you must first save it as a "flat file." Otherwise, the filing will fail and you will need to refile. To "flatten" a completed fillable PDF form:

  1. Right click on document and select Print. If the document opens in Adobe, Select File and select Print.
  2. Select the PDF printer. (The Adobe PDF printer is installed automatically with Adobe Acrobat. Numerous free PDF printer drivers are available for download online.)
  3. Select OK.
  4. Specify location to save the printed, "flattened" version of the form.
  5. Select Save.

See the E-filing web page for more information.

Filing Deadlines

Court cases and documents filed in court cases have deadlines. Documents must be filed before the deadline, and different documents have different deadlines.

Deadlines are governed by court rules, such as the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure and Vermont Rules for Family Proceedings.

Many deadlines are calculated from the day the party was served. Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 6 defines how to calculate deadline dates:

  • Do not count the day the party was served. For example, if a party was served on June 17:
    • June 17 is day 0
    • June 18 is day 1
    • June 19 is day 2, etc.
  • Do count the last day, unless it is a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday. For example, if someone has 21 days to file a document and day 21 is a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, their last day to file the document would be the end of the next business day.
    • If the time period is stated in days, count intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays.
    • If the time period is stated in hours, count intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays. If the period would end on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the period continues to run until the same time on the next business day.

There are other requirements. Read the rule carefully.

If documents are filed in person, the filing party must be in the clerk's office before closing. Some courts do not accept filings shortly before closing. Contact court staff to ask about local procedures.

Filing Fee

There is a filing fee to start most cases, and for some documents filed in existing cases. There is no filing fee for these cases: 

The Fees web page lists all filing fees.

If you can't afford the filing fees, you can ask the court to consider waiving them. See the Application to Waive Filing Fees and Service Costs web page for more information and forms.

If you are not asking to have the filing fee waived, you must pay the fee when the documents are filed.

Serving Papers on the Other Party

All documents filed with the court must be "served" on all parties in the case. "Serving" means delivering the forms or documents to the other parties.

There are different rules for serving documents to start a case and for serving documents once a case has started. There are also different rules for different case types. For example: