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  • Writer's pictureTristan Larson

The Ten-Minute Divorce

Prickly Cactus - getting a divorce doesn't need to be this prickly

I recently helped some friends get the easiest divorce possible in the state of Vermont. Really! There is no way to get a quicker, cleaner, less frustrating, cheaper divorce in this state than what I’m about to show you.

This couple was young, and neither of them was really angry at the other – it’s just that their relationship had fizzled and they wanted to move on. Each of them wanted to take the retirement, bank, and credit cards accounts in his or her name and let the other do the same.

A lot of people are in the same situation – and maybe you’re one of them. They want to know how to file for a divorce without a lot of added emotional and financial strain.

This should be easy, and it is, but they came to me anyway because it was too hard to figure out what forms they needed in preparing for a divorce and how to fill them out. Sometimes it seems like divorce laws and the legal system in general are purposefully confusing!

Vermont Divorce Laws - Not as Complex as You Might Think

If you want to get the easiest divorce possible in the state of Vermont, I’ll show you how. If all goes well, you’ll get your divorce order in the mail in 4-6 weeks and never have to go to court at all. As an added bonus, you might still be friendly enough with each other to celebrate with a toast to the good times you had – or at least for being clever enough to avoid the pain and expense of a drawn-out legal mess!

This ten-minute divorce might be for you if:

  1. You don’t have minor children together;

  2. You have agreed on how to divide your money, your stuff, and your credit card debts;

  3. Neither of you is looking for spousal maintenance (“alimony”); and

  4. You are able to talk to each other respectfully enough to get some forms signed.

If those four things aren’t true, this super-easy divorce is probably not going to work for you. Especially if you have kids, significant assets like pensions or retirement accounts, or own things together, think this through very carefully. But if this really is your situation and you want to split simply and cleanly without dividing up jointly held assets and debts, follow these steps!

Step 1:

You will need to gather six forms from the Vermont Judiciary website. You can fill these out online, but there’s no way to save your information, so most people find it easier to print them and fill them out by hand.

Step 2:

Download my notes on how to fill out the divorce forms. This packet is the same forms you gathered in step one, but with my notes on them in red pen:

Step 3:

Fill out these forms. Let’s walk through these one at a time. You’ll also want to refer to my notes in that packet you downloaded in Step 2.

Note: If one of you changed your name when you were married and wants to change it back, that spouse should be the “plaintiff” and fill out the Summons and Complaint. Otherwise (or if both of you changed your names), you’ll have to add another request to the Answer and Counterclaim asking for a court order changing your name.

1. The Information Sheet:

This form is easy. It is the cover page of your file at the Vermont Family Court. Take a look at my notes in the packet you downloaded, but it’s pretty self-explanatory.

2. The Department of Health Record:

This one is also easy. It goes to the Vermont Department of Health which keeps records on these sorts of things. Take a look at my notes in the packet for some pointers.

3. The Summons and Complaint :

You will have to fill out in detail in detail, but it is mostly straightforward. I’ve put some notes on the packet with suggestions. Remember not to sign it until you’re in front of a notary. The notary will ask you if it is all true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief.

If you changed your name when you were married, check the box and put your former name on the form. This doesn’t mean you have to go back to your old name, but it gives you that option.

4. The Answer and Notice of Appearance for Defendant:

The Answer part of this form corresponds to the paragraphs in the Complaint. Hopefully, you agree on the facts in the Complaint (e.g., when and where you were married) and all of these lines should say “admit.” If not, your divorce is not going to be as simple as you hoped.

The “counterclaim” is for your spouse to also ask the court for a divorce. It isn’t necessary, but if your spouse checks the boxes indicated on the packet you downloaded, that will be fine

5. The Final Stipulation

This is the agreement on how you will get divorced. I’ve noted what to mark on the packet for dividing your assets and debts in the simplest possible way and waiving claims against each other. This is a “walk-away” divorce.

Please remember, this might not be the best way for you to go and I’m not giving you legal advice. I am giving you some pointers on how to get the simplest divorce possible, but I don’t know if this is actually fair (or the best option) in your particular situation.

6. The Motion to Waive Final Hearing

This motion asks the court to skip the hearing at which you would go to court and the judge would ask you if the agreement is fair. Pretty straightforward.

7. Confidential Information

This sheet simply asks for your social security numbers.

Step 4

Once you have filled out these forms, you need to get them notarized. The easiest way to do this is to go to the courthouse in the county where one of you lives and ask the clerk to notarize them. (See a list of Vermont courts, organized by country, here.)

You will need to go to the court together. Alternatively, have your spouse sign the forms in front of a notary first and then take the originals to the court and have the clerk notarize yours. You’ll need a check, too. The filing fee is currently $90 (as of Sep. 2016) and there may be miscellaneous fees of a few dollars more than that. Get your spouse to give you half of the fee if you can. Once they’re all filled out and signed, the clerk can take them for you at the window.

Step 5

If all goes well, you will receive your final divorce decree in the mail. You’re done! If the judge has any questions about your agreement, or the paperwork seems not in order, you’ll receive a notice of hearing instead. You and your spouse will need to go to the hearing, and the judge will ask you a few simple questions about when and where you were married and whether you think your agreement is fair and reasonable. If so, you should get your divorce decree at the end of the hearing. It usually takes about ten minutes.



Need help getting an easy, affordable divorce?

Contact me: (802) 282-4768


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