General Divorce FAQs
I’m just beginning the divorce process. Where do I start?
Divorce is never a decision that is taken lightly. The question now is, how will you divorce. It is helpful to learn about your options in divorce, which include do-it-yourself with court forms and without attorneys, mediation, litigation, and collaborative divorce. We encourage you to register for our free Divorce Options workshop, which is held from 6:00-7:30pm EST on the third Thursday of each month. You can register here. If the Divorce Options Workshop does not work with your schedule, we encourage you to reach out to one of our professionals.
How long does a divorce take?
In Vermont, you need to be separated for at least six months before you can have a final divorce decree. The length of time to resolve your divorce issues will be unique to your family.
Do I need an attorney to get divorced?
You are not required to have an attorney but, especially at the beginning of the divorce process, you should at least consult with an attorney who is licensed in Vermont and who practices family law. The attorney will help spot issues that are specific to your family and your divorce. You can meet our Collaborative Divorce Vermont attorneys here.
How much does a divorce cost?
The cost of your divorce often depends on a variety of factors. If you and your spouse have an agreement that has been approved by the court, you may have minimal costs (including a lower filing fee). Unfortunately, with attorney fees and expert fees, going to court can quickly escalate the cost of divorce.
If I move out of the house, do I lose custody rights to my kids?
No, simply moving out of the house does not mean you automatically lose custody of your children. However, it is a very good idea to get a parenting plan in place before you move out or a parenting order from the court as soon as possible, as the court will consider status quo in making a custody determination.
What happens to my health insurance?
If you have your own insurance coverage or are covered under a group plan with your employer, your coverage should not be affected. If you are covered under your spouse’s plan, your eligibility for coverage will cease when your divorce is final. In Vermont, this is when your divorce is “absolute”, which can be up to 90 days from the date of your final order. You may elect continuation of coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) for up to 36-months, but this may not be your most affordable option.
Am I entitled to alimony?
Generally speaking, the court can order spousal support (“alimony”) when there is a need for same based on the respective incomes and finances of each party. The court is also required to evaluate whether the higher earning spouse has the ability to pay support. A common instance where support is appropriate is when one spouse works and the other is a stay-at-home parent . Because the court evaluates one spouse’s need and the other’s ability to pay, a difference in income is not necessarily the only factor. If there is not a significant difference in monthly wages or income, the court may not order support even though the incomes are not precisely equal.
What about child support?
Vermont has child support guidelines for calculating child support. Sometimes, the court may order a child support amount that is different from the guideline calculation, which is referred to as a deviation.
Collaborative Divorce FAQs
Who should consider Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative Divorce works best for spouses or partners who wish to settle without going to court, and are willing to commit to a good faith effort to do so.
My spouse and I are not getting along. How could we possibly have a Collaborative Divorce?
You and your spouse do not need to be free from conflict in order to have a Collaborative Divorce. What is important is your mutual commitment to resolving your divorce in good faith and outside of court.
Is my attorney really “my” attorney in Collaborative Divorce?
Yes, your attorney is your attorney. It is your attorney’s ethical and professional obligation to give you legal advice and to be your advocate, including in your CollaborativeDivorce. To learn more, we encourage you to reach out to one of our attorneys.
How do I know if I can trust my spouse/partner in the Collaborative Divorce?
You and your spouse/partner will enter into a Collaborative Divorce Participation Agreement. By entering into the Participation Agreement, you are both committing to good faith negotiation, full disclosure, respectful communication, and not going to court. The professional team will hold each of you to those standards. In other words, if your spouse/partner is not being truthful, transparent or acting in good faith, the professional team is obligated to address the issue.
Can I afford a Collaborative Divorce?
A Collaborative Divorce can be less expensive than a traditional divorce, especially when the traditional divorce ends up in litigation. In a traditional divorce, you could end up spending tens of thousands of dollars for litigation expenses such as dueling experts, formal discovery, extensive motion practice, and unpredictable court time. If you are concerned or curious about the cost of Collaborative Divorce, we encourage you to contact one of our Collaborative Professionals.
I’m interested in Collaborative Divorce but I haven’t brought it up to my spouse/partner. How can I get my spouse/partner on board?
There are many ways to introduce the collaborative process to your spouse/partner! You could direct them to our website or see if they would be interested in attending a free Divorce Options workshop, which is held from 6:00-7:30pm EST on the third Thursday of each month. They could also reach out to one of our professionals directly, or you can ask your collaborative professional to reach out to them.
My spouse/partner has an attorney who is not a Collaborative Divorce attorney. Can we still have a Collaborative Divorce?
If your spouse/partner has an attorney who is not a Collaborative Divorce attorney, we would still encourage you to reach out to one of our attorneys. Many of our attorneys are Collaborative Divorce attorneys who also practice traditional divorce litigation, mediate, and consult with clients going through the divorce process. Collaborative Divorce attorneys are specially trained in collaborative negotiations, and Vermont’s Collaborative Professional Group requires such training to participate in a Collaborative Divorce. You can let your partner/spouse know that you are interested in the collaborative process, and they may support transitioning to a Collaborative Divorce.
Why does my attorney have to withdraw if an agreement isn’t reached?
In a Collaborative Divorce, both the spouses/partners and the professionals are held to the standards set forth in your Participation Agreement. If an agreement isn’t reached and one of you decides to end the Collaborative process, your attorney cannot represent you in your divorce outside the Collaborative process. To learn more, we encourage you to reach out to one of our attorneys.