Vermont Divorce Laws And Do-It-Yourself Divorce: A Comprehensive Guide

Divorce can be an incredibly challenging process, irrespective of your location. If divorce is something you’re considering in the state of Vermont, it’s vital to understand the laws and requirements that govern the process. Many individuals also elect to navigate the divorce paperwork and proceedings themselves, engaging in what is commonly referred to as a "do-it-yourself" (DIY) divorce. This article aims to delve into the intricacies of Vermont divorce laws while offering guidance on how to handle a DIY divorce in a thoughtful and comprehensive manner.

Vermont Divorce Laws

Residency Requirement

Before filing for divorce in Vermont, it is crucial to note that at least one spouse must have been a resident of the state for a minimum of six consecutive months immediately preceding the filing.

Grounds for Divorce

Vermont recognizes two types of divorces: no-fault and fault-based. A no-fault divorce occurs when both parties mutually agree to end the marriage without attributing blame to either party for the breakdown. Conversely, a fault-based divorce necessitates that one spouse alleges that the other is responsible for the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Grounds for fault-based divorce include adultery, cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment, or a conviction resulting in a prison sentence of at least three years.

Property Division

Vermont follows the principle of "equitable distribution" when dividing marital property. This means that the court divides assets and debts in a manner that is fair and just, rather than aiming for an equal distribution. In determining fairness, the court takes several factors into consideration, such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s contributions to the property (both financial and non-financial), the economic circumstances of both parties at the time of division, and any other relevant factors the court deems appropriate.

Child Custody

When it comes to child custody, Vermont courts prioritize the best interests of the child. In general, the court prefers to grant joint legal and physical custody to both parents, unless specific circumstances dictate otherwise. The court may also consider additional factors, including the child’s wishes (if the child is of a certain age), each parent’s historical and present relationship with the child, and each parent’s capacity to meet the child’s needs adequately.

DIY Divorce in Vermont

While it is viable to pursue a DIY divorce in Vermont, it is essential to approach this option with caution. Divorce can be an intricate process, and ensuring accurate completion and proper filing of all required paperwork with the court is of utmost importance.

Steps to Take for a DIY Divorce

  1. Meeting the Residency Requirement:
    As previously mentioned, it is vital to confirm that you meet the residency requirement of residing in Vermont for at least six consecutive months before filing for divorce. Make sure this criterion is satisfied before proceeding.

  2. Getting Organized:
    Gather all essential financial documents, including bank statements, tax returns, and any other pertinent paperwork that will aid in determining assets and debts accurately.

  3. Completing the Necessary Forms:
    Vermont requires several forms for divorce, namely a "Complaint for Divorce," "Financial Affidavit," and "Child Support Guidelines Worksheet." These forms can be obtained online or directly from the courthouse.

  4. Filing the Forms with the Court:
    Once the forms are completed, they must be filed with the court clerk’s office. Be prepared to pay the filing fee at this stage.

  5. Serving Your Spouse:
    Upon filing the forms, copies must be served to your spouse via certified mail or in person.

  6. Waiting for a Response:
    After serving the forms, your spouse has 21 days to provide a response. Failure to respond within this time frame may enable you to proceed with a default judgment.

  7. Negotiating and Finalizing the Divorce Settlement:
    If both parties are in agreement regarding the terms of the divorce, you will need to draft a settlement agreement. This document should outline the division of assets and debts, arrangements for child custody and support, and any other relevant terms. Both parties should sign the agreement in the presence of a notary and subsequently file it with the court.

  8. Attending the Final Hearing:
    In some instances, a final hearing may be necessary before the divorce can be granted. It is crucial for both parties to be present at this hearing.

When to Consult an Attorney

If you find yourself uncertain about any aspect of the DIY divorce process or if concerns arise regarding your ability to complete the process independently, it is always advisable to consult with an attorney. Furthermore, if your divorce involves intricate financial issues, child custody disputes, or additional complex matters, an attorney’s guidance can ensure the protection of your rights and the attainment of a fair settlement.


Divorce is an arduous journey, but with careful planning and preparation, Vermont divorce laws and the DIY divorce process can be managed effectively. Paying meticulous attention to detail will enable you to complete the process successfully and embark on a new chapter in your life. Whether you choose to navigate the process independently or secure the assistance of an attorney, always take the necessary steps to safeguard your interests as well as those of your children.

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