Vermont Family Law And Divorce Resource
U.S. Divorce Laws are enacted by each state using their respective legislative process. Once legislation is enacted into law, the divorce courts in Vermont have the authority to manage the divorce proceedings, including, spousal and child support payments, custodial rights of parents and the division of community property.
Since state laws are repealed and amended frequently, it is always advisable to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before making any important decisions about your marriage. You can also visit the GotTrouble Divorce Resource for a more in-depth understanding of related divorce and family law topics.
As of 2016, all states allow for “no fault” divorce. Yet many courts still factor in the respective parties past behavior when determining the division of community property, debts, custody, support and related issues.
SAME-SEX DIVORCE –UPDATE
On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is a right protected by the US Constitution in all 50 states. It follows, therefore, that the rights and obligations between same-sex divorcing parties are subject to the same dissolution laws of that state. Reference: US Supreme Court Opinion: Obergefell v. Hodges. (For more information visit ProCon.org).
RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS AND WHERE TO FILE:
A complaint for divorce or annulment of marriage may be brought if either party to the marriage has resided within the state for a period of six months or more, but a divorce shall not be decreed for any cause, unless the plaintiff or the defendant has resided in the state one year preceding the date of final hearing.
Temporary absence from Vermont because of illness, employment or other legitimate and bona fide reason, shall not affect the six months or one year period referenced above.
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE – NO-FAULT AND FOR CAUSE
Vermont is an equitable distribution state. This means the marital property is divided based on equitable principles of fairness and justice. The court will encourage the parties to reach a settlement through mediation and counseling.
NO FAULT DIVORCE:
A Divorce under no-fault will 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.
DIVORCE FOR CAUSE – STATUTORY
A divorce and all issues involving custody, support and distribution of property can based on the following factors by the court:
- For adultery in either party;
- When either party is sentenced to confinement at hard labor in prison for life, or for three years or more, and is actually confined at the time of the bringing of the libel;
- For intolerable severity in either party;
- For willful desertion or when either party has been absent for seven years and not heard of during that time;
- 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;
- 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.
Vermont is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the marital estate is divided equitably as compared to equally.
In making a property settlement the court may consider all relevant factors, including but not limited to:
(1) the length of the marriage;
(2) the age and health of the parties;
(3) the occupation, source and amount of income of each of the parties;
(4) vocational skills and employability;
(5) the contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other;
(6) the value of all property interests, liabilities, and needs of each party;
(7) whether the property settlement is in lieu of or in addition to maintenance; (
8) the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income;
(9) the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live there for reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of the children; (10) the party through whom the property was acquired.
The amount of alimony and support is based on what the court deems equitable and just, after considering factors such as:
(1) Lacks sufficient income, property, or both, including property apportioned in accordance with statute, to provide for his or her reasonable needs; and
(2) Is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment at the standard of living established during the marriage or is the custodian of a child of the parties.
The amount of maintenance is based on the court considering factors such as:
(1) 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;
(2) The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment;
(3) The standard of living established during the marriage;
(4) The duration of the marriage; (5) the age and the physical and emotional condition of each spouse; (6) 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 (7) inflation with relation to the cost of living.
LEGAL NAME CHANGE:
Upon granting a divorce to a woman, unless good cause is shown to the contrary, the court may allow her to resume her maiden name or the name of a former husband. The court may change the names of the minor children of divorced parents when application for that purpose is made in the complaint for divorce.
CHILD CUSTODY – BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD
The court shall not apply a preference for one parent over the other because of the sex of the child, the sex of a parent or the financial resources of a parent. 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.
The court shall consider the following factors:
- 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;
- 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;
- The ability and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s present and future developmental needs;
- The quality of the child’s adjustment to the child’s present housing, school and community and the potential effect of any change;
- 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;
- The quality of the child’s relationship with the primary care provider, if appropriate given the child’s age and development;
- The relationship of the child with any other person who may significantly affect the child;
- 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
- Evidence of abuse, as defined in section 1101 of this title, and the impact of the abuse on the child and on the relationship between the child and the abusing parent.
Vermont bases child support on the Income Shares Model. 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, in money, his or her share of the total support obligation to the custodial parent. In any proceeding to establish or modify child support, the total child support obligation for the children who are the subject of the support order shall be adjusted if a parent is also responsible for the support of additional dependents who are not the subject of the support order.
The total support obligation shall be presumed to be the amount of child support needed. Upon request of a party, the court shall consider the following factors in respect to both parents:
- The financial resources of the child;
- The financial resources of the custodial parent;
- The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marital relationship not been discontinued;
- The physical and emotional condition of the child;
- The educational needs of the child;
- The financial resources and needs of the noncustodial parent;
- The costs of meeting the educational needs of either parent, if the costs are incurred for the purpose of increasing the earning capacity of the parent;
- Extraordinary travel and other travel-related expenses incurred in exercising the right to parent-child contact; (10) Any other factors the court finds relevant.
NOTE; The court may order support to be continued until the child attains the age of majority or terminates secondary education whichever is later. If the parties agree, the court may include in the child support order an additional amount designated for the purpose of providing for postsecondary education.
ENFORCING VERMONT CHILD SUPPORT ORDERS – FEDERAL OPTION
Learn about the Federal Office of Child Support and Enforcement: