How Long Does It Take To Get A Divorce In Vermont?
Probably the most frequent question I hear when I meet with a new client is this: how long will it take for my divorce to be final? As with most things in Vermont family law, the answer to this question depends on a number of things. Every situation is unique and it’s hard to predict, but still, most divorces do follow a similar pattern.
You can read the detailed answer here, or skip to the punchline below, where I talk about “The Bottom Line.”
The following factors influence how long your divorce will take:
Do you have kids?
Do you agree on some things, or disagree on everything?
How long have you been married?
Divorce Waiting Periods: What Are They and Which Ones Apply to Me?
Confusingly, there are three different waiting periods related to getting divorced in Vermont. Which ones apply to you will impact the length of time it takes to get your divorce. I’ll explain each of them below.
Six months living separate and apart
Six months for minor children
Waiting Period for Living Separate and Apart
“Living separate and apart” means that both of you say you haven’t been living as a married couple for at least six months. Usually this means that it will take a minimum of six months from the time you file the complaint until you are eligible for the final divorce decree ("the final order"). However, if you agree that you’ve been living separate and apart in the past for at least six months, this can be waived.
You don’t have to have separate homes to live separate and apart, by the way. Technically, it means you aren’t sleeping together - but judges aren’t going to ask you any specific questions about this as long as you say you’ve been “separate and apart.”
Waiting Period for Minor Children
The six month waiting period for minor children can’t be waived, but it can cover the same amount of time as the living separate and apart waiting period. So if you have kids, you can’t get your order for six months while the clock is running on this. The good news is, you don’t have to tack on another six months for living separate and apart.
Once you do get your final order, it doesn’t become final until the end of the “nisi” period, which is ninety days in Vermont. This just means that you can’t get remarried for this time period and you can stay on your spouse’s health insurance (if that’s in your divorce order). As long as you both agree, you can waive this period and the divorce will become final as soon as it is signed.
If you don’t have kids...
If you don’t have minor children, it can cut down the length of time it takes to get your divorce. For one thing, you don’t have to deal with the issues of custody and child support, which are often the most difficult and time-consuming aspects of a divorce. For another thing, if you have children you have the additional six month waiting period.
Tips to Help Make the Divorce Process Shorter
If you agree on some things, even if it isn’t everything, you could shorten the time it takes to get through the divorce by letting the judge know what issues are undecided. That way the court will know that it can set your case for a shorter hearing, which is easier to schedule.
The length of your marriage doesn’t officially make a difference to the court for any reason that would affect the time it takes to get a divorce, but in practice, the longer people have been married the longer it takes to undo. Often there are more assets to divide (or debt to assign to someone), and it is more complicated to get to an agreement.
The Bottom Line
If you have no kids and you agree on all financial aspects of the divorce, you could get a divorce in six weeks or so. This only works if you file a complete stipulation along with your complaint. You can read more in my blog about the Ten Minute Divorce.
If you have kids and you agree on everything, you could get divorced in six months. More likely, though, is that it will take a year to work out the details and get your final order.
If you don’t have kids and you don’t agree on finances, it will probably take about a year.
If you do have kids and you don’t agree on anything, it will probably take at least 18 months and maybe two years.
Need help with your divorce? I offer affordable, flat fee consultations.
Contact me: (802) 255-1252