Vermont Divorce Laws And Guardianship

When a married couple makes the difficult decision to terminate their marriage, there are numerous factors that must be taken into account. Among these considerations, the division of property and assets emerges as one of the most crucial aspects. In Vermont, it is essential for couples to familiarize themselves with the specific laws and guidelines surrounding divorce and guardianship prior to initiating the divorce process.

Filing for Divorce in Vermont

In the state of Vermont, either spouse has the right to file for divorce as long as they have been residents for a minimum of six months. The spouse filing for divorce is required to submit a written complaint to the court, clearly stating the reasons behind their decision. Vermont follows a no-fault divorce policy, which renders it unnecessary for either spouse to prove wrongdoing on the part of the other in order to proceed with the divorce proceedings.

Property Division in Vermont

Vermont operates under the principle of equitable distribution, ensuring that the court divides the couple’s property and assets in a just and equitable manner. It is important to note that this does not essentially equate to a 50/50 split, but rather a distribution that is deemed fair based on the unique circumstances of the couple.

When making decisions regarding property division, the court will take several factors into account, namely:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The financial resources and earning potential of each spouse
  • The age and overall health of each spouse
  • The contributions made by each spouse during the marriage, encompassing domestic responsibilities, childcare, and income generation
  • The value of any property or assets owned individually by each spouse prior to the marriage.

Child Custody and Support in Vermont

In situations where the divorcing couple has children, the court must also determine the most suitable child custody and support arrangements. Vermont courts actively encourage parents to collaborate in establishing a parenting plan that duly meets the needs of both the parents and the children.

If an agreement cannot be reached with regard to this parenting plan, the court will make a decision based on what it deems to be in the best interests of the children. The court takes several factors into consideration during this process, including:

  • Each parent’s capacity to provide a stable and nurturing living environment
  • The relationships between the children and each parent
  • The expressed wishes of the children, provided they are of sufficient age to articulate them
  • The presence of any history of abuse or neglect on the part of either parent.

Furthermore, the court will also establish the appropriate child support arrangements. To determine child support, Vermont employs a formula that considers the income of each parent, as well as other relevant factors.

Guardianship in Vermont

Aside from divorce and child custody matters, Vermont has specific laws governing guardianship. A guardian is an individual appointed by a court to take care of a minor child who is not their own. Guardianship is typically granted when the child’s parents are either unwilling or unable to fulfill their caregiving obligations.

Types of Guardianship in Vermont

Vermont recognizes two types of guardianship:

  • Temporary guardianship: This form of guardianship is granted for a specified period, usually lasting up to six months. It is intended to provide short-term care and support for a child.
  • Permanent guardianship: As the name suggests, this form of guardianship is granted indefinitely until the child reaches the age of 18. A guardian with permanent guardianship is granted legal custody and decision-making authority over the child.

How to Obtain Guardianship in Vermont

To obtain guardianship in Vermont, an individual must file a petition with the court. The court will then conduct a hearing to determine whether granting guardianship serves the best interests of the child involved.

Factors taken into consideration during this process include:

  • The existing relationship between the child and the proposed guardian
  • The ability of the proposed guardian to meet the child’s physical, emotional, and educational needs
  • The wishes of the child, if they possess the maturity to effectively communicate them
  • The overall health and safety of the child.

Responsibilities of a Guardian in Vermont

In Vermont, the role of a guardian comes with various responsibilities. A guardian is obligated to meet the child’s basic needs, including food, clothing, and shelter. Additionally, they are entrusted with tending to the child’s emotional and educational needs.

The guardian is also responsible for making significant decisions on behalf of the child. These decisions may encompass determining the child’s place of residence, selecting an appropriate educational institution, and ensuring the child receives necessary medical care.


Divorce and guardianship proceedings are intricate legal matters that demand meticulous thought and preparation. If you find yourself contemplating divorce or guardianship within the state of Vermont, it is highly advisable to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney. With their expertise, you can navigate these complex processes while protecting your rights and interests.

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