The decision to get a divorce is stressful, to say the least. Couples go through a lot of emotional turmoil and deal with bureaucratic issues. All these things are amplified if partners cannot reach an agreement regarding their divorce.
Still, if spouses are able to communicate effectively and solve their problems, divorce can become inexpensive and quick. Filing for divorce can be easy without the need for an attorney. Keep reading to learn how to proceed with do-it-yourself divorce in the state of Vermont.
Vermont is a no-fault state. This means that a couple can initiate a divorce without specifying a reason. You can state that your marriage is broken beyond repair due to irreconcilable differences.
However, there are grounds for divorce that can be used as fault-based:
- Separation for at least 3 years;
- Intolerable severity/physical abuse;
- Willful desertion for 7 years;
- Persistent neglect.
DIY Divorce in Vermont
Let us look at how to divorce without an attorney in Vermont.
Do You Qualify?
First of all, Vermont has residency requirements to be eligible for a divorce. Either you or your spouse must be a resident of the state and live separately for at least 6 months before getting a divorce. Even more, one partner must have lived in Vermont for at least 1 year before the final divorce hearing can be held.
Have a Talk With Your Partner
An uncontested DIY divorce is possible only if both partners are on the same page. It is important to talk through all the sensitive issues before filing. Divorce becomes contested if spouses cannot reach an agreement regarding property division, spousal support, child custody, debt allocation, and so on.
Prepare the Papers
Now is the time to fill out divorce papers. If you are following a DIY divorce scenario without an attorney, there are two ways to prepare your papers: do it yourself or use the service of an online divorce company.
The first path is quite difficult as you need to fill out all the forms yourself. The majority of required documents can be accessed via the Vermont Judiciary website! However, it may become an issue if you are not good with paperwork or don’t possess the required skills.
After all, the list of papers is rather extensive:
- Complaint for Divorce;
- Notice of Appearance;
- Information sheet with basic information about yourself;
- Health Department information;
- Income and Expense Affidavit;
- Property and Assets Affidavit.
If partners have minor children, they also need to prepare Combined Summons, Affidavit of Child Custody, and the first page of the Child Support Order form.
The alternative is to use the services of an online divorce company. These services provide tools that you can use to fill out, generate, and print all the required documents for your case.
File the Papers
Next, you need to file the prepared documents. But first, you should make copies for your spouse and yourself. Bring the complaint and other papers to the local county court and file them.
After paying the filing fees, the clerk will check if all the papers are properly filled out and assign your case a number. You can request a waiver if your financial situation does not allow you to pay the fees.
Serve Your Spouse
After filing for divorce, you have to serve papers to your partner. Vermont family law provides petitioners with several options for serving the divorce papers in an uncontested divorce scenario.
The receiving side can complete the “Acceptance of Service” form and file it to the court. This way, the petitioner can serve papers in person.
Another option is to hire a local county sheriff who will deliver the papers to your partner for a fee. Additionally, you can send the documents via certified or first class mail.
The respondent has 21 days to deliver the answer to the court. If they do not file a response in the given time, the petitioner proceeds with a default case.
Case Hearing and Divorce
After completing the previous steps, you can file the remaining documents. The court will set a hearing date, and you may receive additional notifications depending on your case.
On the date of the hearing, you need to attend the court. The judge will review the papers, ask some questions, and then sign a Decree of Divorce.
However, this is not the end. If your partner did not appear in court, you have to serve the final papers. Serving the decree has the same rules – by mail or using the sheriff’s services.
Despite the signed decree, you are not officially divorced yet. There is a mandatory 90-day waiting period. It is called the nisi period. The judge may reduce or even waive it if both spouses agree to it.
The divorce process in Vermont can be relatively easy or pretty complicated. Everything depends on the individual circumstances of your case. An uncontested divorce is the easiest way to get through this stressful process.
The most intimidating part is filling out all the papers correctly. The list of documents also depends on the specifics of your case. However, an online divorce company provides you with the instruments to easily fill out, generate, and print your divorce papers.