Vermont Court Records
How are Divorce Records Generated in Vermont?
In Vermont, divorce records are generated in the process of the dissolution of a marriage or union. Case files such as complaints, summons, affidavits, and records of financial information are examples of divorce records. Certificates or final decrees of divorce are issued at the end of a divorce process and are also examples of divorce records.
There are 6.3 divorces out of every 1,000 women aged 15 and above in Vermont. Divorce can either be contested or uncontested. In an uncontested divorce, both parties in the divorce are in agreement about all the terms of their divorce and matters such as alimony, child care, child support, and asset distribution. Parties in an uncontested divorce may complete a final divorce decree and file it with the Clerk of the Family Division of the Superior Court in their county of residence.
In a contested divorce, parties do not agree on the terms of their divorce. The divorce process in Vermont can take a minimum of six months. However, contested divorces can take much longer to finalize. Divorce is final 90 days after a judge authorizes the divorce decree. However, the waiting period can be waived by the judge if both parties agree to the waiver.
To be eligible to file for divorce in Vermont, couples must meet residency requirements and have legal grounds for divorce. One of the parties intending to file for divorce in Vermont must have lived in the state for at least six months before the filing of the divorce complaint and must have lived in the state for one year by the time of the final hearing.
Grounds for divorce in Vermont include:
- Imprisonment for life or imprisonment for at least three years of one of the parties
- Intolerable cruelty
- Willful desertion for seven years
- Willful neglect
- Permanent incapacity
- Separation for at least 6 months without a probability of reconciliation
On the finalization of a divorce, the Court Clerk sends the dissolution certificate to the health department for filing. After some years, usually five years, the records are transferred to the State Archives and Record Administration. Divorce decrees are maintained by the Court Clerk of the Superior Court in the county where divorce is finalized.
Are Divorce Records Public in Vermont?
Under Vermont’s Vital Records Law, most divorce records are public information. However, records that are otherwise exempted from public access by law, such as information about children or minors, witnesses, and victims of abuse or violence are not accessible to the public. Financial information on divorce records may also not be available for public viewing. Outside these exemptions, there are no restrictions on access to divorce records.
The State Department of Health and Vermont State Archives and Records Administration may issue certified copies of divorce records. Non-certified copies of divorce records are available to the public through third-party websites. However, non-certified copies may not be used for any legal purposes.
What are the types of Divorce Records available in Vermont?
Types of divorce records available in Vermont include divorce case files, divorce or civil union dissolution certificates, and the final decree and order of divorce, also known as the divorce decree.
Divorce case files are records generated in the process of a divorce, from the filing of a divorce complaint to the delivery of the final divorce judgment. Divorce case files may include affidavits, summons, orders and notices, financial records, and motions. These are filed and maintained by the Clerk of the Court. Indexes or parts of divorce case files may show up in public searches for divorce records.
Divorce or Civil Union Dissolution Certificates are initiated by attorneys representing parties to the divorce. These certificates are filed and kept with the court until after a divorce is final. Upon finalization of a divorce, which is 90 days after the judge delivers the and signs the final order, the Divorce or Civil Union Dissolution Certificate will be signed by the Clerk of Court and transferred to the state’s Department of Health to be filed. Copies of Divorce or Civil Union Dissolution Certificates are maintained by the Vital Records division of the Department of Health for about five years, after which the records are transferred to the Vermont State Archives and Record Administration.
The Final Decree and Order of Divorce is the order of the court, delivered by a judge, that grants a final dissolution of a marriage or union. It is an enforceable document, usually multiple pages long, that contains the divorced parties’ terms of agreement and the court’s decision about the divorce. Child care, child custody, alimony, spousal support, property use, asset and debt division, visitation rights, and change of name are some of the details that may be contained in a Final Decree and Order of Divorce.
In Vermont, a divorce is not final until after a nisi period - 90 days after the final divorce order is signed. However, the nisi period can be waived if both parties in the divorce agree to have it waived. After the finalization of a divorce, the Clerk of Court or the representing attorneys will mail copies of the divorce order to the parties in the divorce.
How Do I Get Divorce Records in Vermont?
In Vermont, divorce records can be obtained in person, by mail, and online. Divorce or Civil Union Dissolution Certificates are acceptable as legal proof of divorce and can be used in social security, immigration, citizenship, and other legal matters. Copies of Divorce or Civil Union Dissolution certificates from the year 2013 and earlier are maintained by and can be requested from the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration.
Vermont State Archives and Records Administration provides certified copies of Divorce or Civil Union Dissolution Certificates by mail or through the Vital Requests Service. Requestors may request as many certified copies as is deemed necessary. Each copy costs $12 through the service. Orders typically ship within five to seven days of a request; however, expedited services are available at $14.50. Expedited orders are shipped overnight on the day the requested order is fulfilled.
To request certified copies of divorce records from the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration by mail, requestors must submit a completed request form in a stamped, self-addressed envelope along with a check or money order payable to the Vermont Secretary of State. Certified copies cost $10. Requests can be mailed to:
Office of the Secretary of State
1078 US RTE 2, Middlesex
Montpelier, VT 05633–7701
The Vital Records Office of the Vermont Department of Health issues certified copies of Divorce and Dissolution Certificates for divorce events that occurred from 2014 to date. To make requests by mail, requestors must submit a completed application form along with a check or money order payable to the Vermont Department of Health. The fee for each certified copy requested is $10. Applications must be mailed in a stamped and self-addressed envelope to:
Vital Records Office
PO Box 70
Burlington, VT 05402
Requests can also be made in person at the Customer Service window at the Vital Records Office. Applicants must bring completed application forms along with a check or money order payable to “Vermont Department of Health”. Each certified copy costs $10. Applicants must also present their identification when making requests in person at:
Vital Records Office
108 Cherry Street
The Vital Records office operates between 7:45 am and 4:30 pm on weekdays except on holidays.
Copies of the Final Decree and Order of divorce may be requested from the Clerk of Court at the Family Division of the Superior Court in the county where the divorce was finalized. The Vermont Judiciary Public Portal also provides electronic access to some case records.
Who Can Obtain Divorce Records in Vermont?
Some divorce records, including financial and other information designated confidential by law, may only be requested by persons named on the record, their attorneys, or persons authorized by a court order. Outside these exceptions, divorce records are available to members of the public.
Are Vermont Divorce Records available online?
Vermont divorce records are available online at a fee through the Vital Records Request Service provided by the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration. Some divorce records are also available online through the Vermont Judiciary Public Portal. The Vermont Judiciary Public Portal provides limited electronic access to members of the public. Requestors do not have to be registered to use the portal for limited access.
The Vermont Judiciary provides elevated access to case parties, their attorneys, and other participants. Registration for elevated access is required. Application for elevated access must be filed with the court before registration on the portal.
How Do I seal My Divorce Records in Vermont?
Except where otherwise provided by statutes, divorce records are public records, subject to public inspection. Parties in a divorce may file a motion with the court to have all or some parts of their records sealed.
Records may be sealed to:
- Protect the privacy of victims of domestic violence and abuse
- Prevent the exposure of potentially damaging libel
- Protect proprietary business information
- Protect children and minors
If the court determines that good cause is shown, the motion may be granted.