How much does a divorce cost?
It depends on the process you choose. The most expensive process is a traditional divorce or litigation, which require retainers (up front payments to the lawyers that they keep in an IOLTA trust account for the duration of your case.) Traditional “garden variety” divorces with two lawyers, who eventually settle the case cost between $5,000-$40,000+ per person. Contested custody or property/alimony cases cost closer to $50,000-$100,000+ per person. Collaborative divorces usually cost between $5,000-$15,000 per person. Mediation costs around $2,500-$5,000 total, for both parties combined. The costs vary depending on the issues and the process, and how motivated you both are to get divorced.
How long does it take to get divorced?
It depends. Most folks find that it takes around 6 months to a year to feel ready to negotiate a final settlement. If you have been separated for more than a year and the parenting plan is going well, and you both know your financial reality, and have it all worked out, then it might only take a few hours to put a settlement together.
If you have minor children, the court expects you to wait at least six months from the date the case is docketed until it is “ripe” for a final divorce hearing. In COVID-19 terms, it could significantly longer. If you use a mediation process, with attorneys signing off, or the Collaborative Divorce process you can request that the waiting period be waived. In a Collaborative Divorce, you set the pace and you can be divorced when you are ready to be divorced within the parameters of the law.
What is a No-Fault divorce?
In Vermont, a no-fault divorce is a divorce that is granted because you have lived separate and apart in excess of six months and you are not going to get back together again. This six month separation is different from the six month waiting requirement for minor children.
How do you determine the date of separation?
Many couples reside together through the separation process for a variety of reasons. The general rule is that you have not had sex in more than 6 months and you stop holding yourself out to the public as a couple. You can choose your separation date.
If there is domestic violence involved, is Collaborative Divorce an option?
The answer depends on the extent of the violence, whether it is on-going or in the past; whether there is an existing restraining order in effect, and whether the victim feels safe enough to engage in a process that requires direct negotiation. In addition, the lawyers involved and the mental health coach will discuss the situation and assess whether we can maintain a safe process, and ensure that there will be no further abuse and the victim wishes to proceed.
If there is domestic violence involved, is Mediation an option?
Generally, no. The unequal bargaining position makes mediation an unsafe option for most victims of domestic violence.
What is a Kitchen Table divorce?
This is the name given to a divorce where the couple downloads the forms from the State judiciary website, and does the divorce without any outside help.
Is a Kitchen Table divorce an option if we have significant assets, retirement accounts and a home to divide?
Generally, it is recommended that when the assets are complex, that a lawyer be involved to ensure the transfer of property is done in accordance with the law.
Are my retirement assets subject to division in the divorce?
Yes. All property, however and whenever acquired is considered marital property. In Vermont, the court is required to consider all property and then equitably divide it.
What is Alimony?
Alimony has a couple of different names. It is called Alimony by the IRS, and Spousal Maintenance in Vermont, and some places call it Spousal Support. This is money that one spouse pays to the other, if the other person lacks sufficient income, property or both to support themselves at a reasonable standard of living, as that standard was established during the marriage. The person paying also has to be able to afford to pay support. There are a variety of factors that the court considers in determining the amount and duration of alimony.