How Is Legal Separation Different From Divorce In Vermont?

Couples in Vermont who are facing problems in their marriage often look for ways to legally separate or divorce from their partner. While both these options may provide relief from a problematic marriage, they have different legal implications. In this article, we will explore how legal separation is different from divorce in Vermont.

Legal Separation is a legal process in which a couple obtains a court order that outlines the rights and responsibilities of each party during their separation. They will not be legally married, but they will still be obligated to each other in some ways, such as providing support and sharing assets. Legal separation can last indefinitely or until a couple decides to reconcile or file for divorce.

Legal separation offers couples the opportunity to take a break from the demands of a marriage without ending the legal union. It allows individuals to live separately, establish individual finances, and make decisions regarding child custody and support while still legally bound to their spouse. This arrangement enables couples to work through their differences or explore the possibility of reconciliation without terminating the marriage.

What Is Divorce?

Divorce is a legal process in which a couple seeks to dissolve their marriage. Once the divorce is final, the couple is no longer married, and their legal obligations to one another cease. The court will divide property, debts, and any other assets and establish child custody and support arrangements if necessary.

Divorce signifies the permanent termination of a marriage. It dissolves the legal ties between the spouses, allowing them to move on as individuals. It requires the legal intervention of a court to distribute property, determine financial responsibilities, and settle matters related to children. Divorce is often chosen when attempts at reconciliation or separation have not resolved the issues within the marriage.

One of the significant differences between legal separation and divorce is their legal status. In legal separation, couples are still legally married but are living separately. This means that they continue to have certain legal rights and responsibilities towards each other. In contrast, divorce formally dissolves the marriage, completely severing all legal ties and obligations between the spouses.

Division Of Property

In legal separation, couples will divide their assets and liabilities in a way they deem fair and workable. However, they still maintain joint ownership, and the court does not have to approve their arrangement. This allows the couple more flexibility in determining the distribution of property and debt. In contrast, divorce requires couples to split their marital property and debt according to the state’s equitable distribution laws. The court plays a significant role in the division process, ensuring a fair and just outcome.

Residency Requirement

Vermont laws require couples seeking a divorce to have been residents of the state for at least six months. This residency requirement ensures that the state has jurisdiction over the case and allows individuals to file for divorce within Vermont. In contrast, there is no residency requirement for legal separation. Couples can pursue a legal separation regardless of how long they have resided in Vermont.

Time & Cost

A legal separation is typically quicker and less expensive compared to divorce. Legal separation may only require the services of an attorney who drafts a separation agreement, which outlines the terms of the separation. Since legal separation does not involve the court’s extensive intervention, it can be a more efficient and cost-effective process. In contrast, divorce may require more court appearances and legal proceedings, which can be time-consuming and costly.

The duration of a divorce case may vary depending on various factors such as the complexity of the case, the number of issues to be resolved, and the cooperation between the parties involved. Additionally, the involvement of attorneys and potential disputes can further extend the duration and cost of the divorce process.


Both legal separation and divorce provide couples with options to move on from their marriages. However, it’s essential to note the differences between them and seek legal advice before making any decisions. Understanding the legal implications of each option will help couples make informed decisions that create stable and workable arrangements. Whether a couple chooses legal separation or divorce, it is crucial to navigate the process with care and consideration for everyone involved, ensuring a smoother transition into the next chapter of their lives.

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