Vermont Divorce

Residency Requirements

If either party to the marriage has resided within Vermont for a period of six months, a complaint for divorce may be brought in this state.

However, a divorce will not be granted until one of the parties has resided in the state for at least one year preceding the date of the final hearing.


Grounds for Divorce

There is no-fault divorce in Vermont. A no-fault divorce may be granted when a married person has lived apart from his or her spouse for six consecutive months and the court finds that the resumption of marital relations is not reasonably probable. A divorce may also be decreed:

a) For adultery in either party;
b) When either party is sentenced to prison for three years or more;
c) For intolerable severity in either party;
d) For willful desertion or when either party has been absent for seven years and not heard of during that time;
e) On complaint of either party when one spouse has sufficient pecuniary or physical ability to provide suitable maintenance for the other and, without cause, persistently refuses or neglects so to do; or
f) On the ground of incurable insanity of either party.


Division of Property

In Vermont, the divorce court will equitably divide all property, owned by either or both of the parties, however and whenever acquired.

Title to the property, whether in the names of the husband, the wife, or both parties, shall be immaterial, except where equitable distribution can be made without disturbing separate property. In making a property settlement the court may consider all relevant factors, including but not limited to:

a) the length of the civil marriage;
b) the age and health of the parties;
c) the occupation, source, and amount of income of each of the parties;
d) vocational skills and employability;
e) the contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other;
f) the value of all property interests, liabilities, and needs of each party;
g) whether the property settlement is in lieu of or in addition to maintenance;
h) the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income;
i) the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live there for reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of the children;
j) the party through whom the property was acquired;
k) the contribution of each spouse in the acquisition, preservation, and depreciation or appreciation in value of the respective estates, including the nonmonetary contribution of a spouse as a homemaker; and
l) the respective merits of the parties.


Spousal Support

The court may order either spouse to make maintenance payments to the other spouse if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient income, property, or both, 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 civil marriage or is the custodian of a child of the parties.

The amount and length of maintenance payments are determined after considering all relevant factors including:

a) the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, the property apportioned to the party, the party’s ability to meet his or her needs independently, and the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party contains a sum for that party as custodian;
b) the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment; c) the standard of living established during the civil marriage;
d) the duration of the civil marriage;
e) the age and the physical and emotional condition of each spouse;
f) the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her reasonable needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance; and
g) inflation with relation to the cost of living.


Child Custody

The court may order parental rights and responsibilities to be divided or shared between the parents on such terms and conditions as serve the best interests of the child. When the parents cannot agree to divide or share parental rights and responsibilities, the court shall award parental rights and responsibilities primarily or solely to one parent.

In making its child custody determination, the court will consider at least the following factors:

a) the relationship of the child with each parent and the ability and disposition of each parent to provide the child with love, affection and guidance;
b) the ability and disposition of each parent to assure that the child receives adequate food, clothing, medical care, other material needs and a safe environment;
c) the ability and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s present and future developmental needs;
d) the quality of the child’s adjustment to the child’s present housing, school and community and the potential effect of any change;
e) the ability and disposition of each parent to foster a positive relationship and frequent and continuing contact with the other parent, including physical contact, except where contact will result in harm to the child or to a parent;
f) the quality of the child’s relationship with the primary care provider, if appropriate given the child’s age and development;
g) the relationship of the child with any other person who may significantly affect the child;
h) 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 or divided; and
i) evidence of abuse and the impact of the abuse on the child and on the relationship between the child and the abusing parent.


Child Support

Child support payments are figured using the state’s formulated support guideline. Except in situations where there is shared or split physical custody, the total child support obligation shall be divided between the parents in proportion to their respective available incomes and the noncustodial parent shall be ordered to pay his or her share of the total support obligation to the custodial parent. The custodial parent shall be presumed to spend his or her share directly on the child.


Vermont Resources


Laws & Courts:

Vermont Law – state statutes. Title 15, Chapters 011 through 019.
Judiciary Home Page – court information, calendars, and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) are available.
Supreme Court Opinions – database of opinions from 1994 to present from the Vermont Department of Libraries.

Additional Resources:

State Bar Association – bar news and legal information for the for the public and attorneys from the Vermont Bar Association (VBA).
Children’s Rights Council – national nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC that works to assure children meaningful and continuing contact with both their parents and extended family regardless of the parents’ marital status.

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Additional Links

The State Resource pages are provided for informational purposes only. Do not take any actions based upon the information contained within the State Resource pages without first consulting an attorney licensed in your state. We at strive to keep our information up-to-date; however state laws are not static and subject to change without notice.