Vermont Divorce Law
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Divorce Residency Essentials to Get Divorced in Vermont
Either spouse must have been a resident of Vermont for at least six months before the divorce is filed. Additionally, either spouse must have been a resident for one year before the divorce is made final. In cases involving child custody, there is a six-month waiting period after the defendant has been served with the divorce papers before a hearing will be held. The divorce may be filed for in any county where either or both of the spouses reside. [Vermont Statutes Annotated; Title 15, Chapter 11, Subchapter 3, Sections 592 and 593 and Vermont Rules for Family Proceedings; Rule 4].
Reasons for Divorce in Vermont
There are mainly two reasons of divorce in Vermont those are fault and general.In order to file for divorce in Vermont, the proper grounds must be established. Both spouses are involved in establishing these grounds, and both must substantiate and agree upon these, unless the divorcing spouse is trying to prove otherwise to the court.
No-fault grounds for a divorce in Vermontinclude:
· Living separate and apart without cohabitation for 6 consecutive months and the resumption of marital relations is not reasonably probable. [Vermont Statutes Annotated; Title 15, Chapter 11, Subchapter 2, Section 555].
General reasons fordivorce in Vermontinclude:
- Imprisonment for three years or more or for life;
- Willful desertion for seven years;
- Cruel and inhuman treatment of intolerable severity;
- Incurable mental illness; and
- Gross neglect. [Vermont Statutes Annotated; Title 15, Chapter 11, Subchapter 2, Section 551].
Custody of the Children in Vermont
Joint or sole child custody may be awarded based on the best interests of the child and upon a consideration of all relevant factors, including the following:
- The wishes of the parents;
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
- The relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and other significant family members;
- The ability and disposition of each parent to provide love, affection, and guidance;
- The ability of each parent to provide food, clothing, medical care, other material needs, and a safe environment;
- The ability of each parent to meet the child’s present and future developmental needs;
- The ability and disposition of each parent to foster a positive relationship and frequent and continuing contact with the other parent, including physical contact unless it will result in harm to the child or parent;
- The quality of the child’s relationship with the primary care provider, given the child’s age and development; and
- The ability and disposition of the parents to communicate, cooperate with each other, and make joint decisions concerning the children where parental rights and responsibilities are to be shared.
Neither parent is assumed to have a superior right to have custody. No preference to be given because of parent’s sex. [Vermont Statutes Annotated; Title 15, Chapter 11, Subchapter 3A, Section 664].
Property Distribution in Vermont
Vermont is an “equitable distribution” state. All of the spouses’ property is subject to being divided on an equitable basis, regardless of when it was acquired or how the title is held, including any gifts and inheritances. The factors to be considered are:
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker;
- The value of each spouse’s property;
- The length of the marriage;
- The age and health of the spouses;
- The occupation of the spouses;
- The amount and sources of income of the spouses;
- The vocational skills of the spouses;
- The employability of the spouses;
- The liabilities and needs of each spouse and the opportunity of each for further acquisition of capital assets and income;
- Whether the property award is instead of or in addition to maintenance;
- How and by whom the property was acquired;
- The merits of each spouse;
- The burdens imposed upon either spouse for the benefit of the children;
- Any custodial provisions for the children, including the desirability of awarding the family home to the parent with custody of any children;
- The conduct of the spouses during the marriage; and
- The contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other. [Vermont Statutes Annotated; Title 15, Chapter 11, Subchapter 6, Section 751].
Vermont Spousal Support Guidelines
Either spouse may be ordered to pay maintenance to the other, without regard to marital fault. The maintenance may be rehabilitative (temporary) or permanent and will be awarded if the court finds that the spouse seeking maintenance:
- Lacks sufficient income or property to provide for his or her reasonable needs and
- Is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment at the standard of living established during the marriage and is the custodian of any children.
The factors to be considered are:
- The time necessary to acquire sufficient education and training to enable the spouse to find appropriate employment and that spouse’s future earning capacity;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The ability of the spouse from whom support is sought to meet his or her needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking support;
- The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including property apportioned to such spouse and such spouse’s ability to meet his or her needs independently;
- The age of the spouses;
- The physical and emotional conditions of the spouses; and
- The effects of inflation on the cost of living.
The court may require security for any maintenance payments. [Vermont Statutes Annotated; Title 15, Chapter 11, Subchapter 6, Sections 752 and 757].
Vermont Child Support Guidelines
Either or both of the parents may be required to pay child support, based on a consideration of the following factors:
- The financial resources of the child;
- The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not been dissolved;
- The physical and emotional conditions and educational needs of the child;
- The financial resources, needs, and obligations of both the non-custodial and the custodial parent;
- Inflation with relation to the cost of living;
- The costs of any educational needs of either parent;
- Any travel expenses related to parent-child contact; and
- Any other relevant factors.
Health insurance coverage for the child may be ordered to be provided. The court may require security or wage withholding. Every order of child support must be made subject to a wage assignment in the event of delinquency and require the payments to be made to the registry in the Office of Child Support, unless the situation falls under an exception to the rules shown in Vermont Statutes Annotated; Title 33, Section 4103. There are official child support guidelines available from the Vermont Department of Human Services which are presumed to be correct, unless they are shown to be unfair under the circumstances. There is an official child support computation worksheet available. [Vermont Statutes Annotated; Title 15, Chapter 11, Subchapter 3A, Sections 653 to 669, Chapter 11, Subchapter 3A, Section 757, and Chapter 11, Subchapter 7, Sections 781 to 783, Title 33, Part 3, Chapter 41, Section 4103, and Vermont Rules for Family Proceedings; Rule 4].
If one of the spouses denies under oath that they have lived apart for the required period, the court may delay the proceedings for 30 to 60 days and suggest that the spouses seek counseling. [Vermont Statutes Annotated; Title 15, Chapter 11, Subchapter 2, Section 552].