Vermont judges shy away from major alimony reform

finances and divorce

Judges in the small north-eastern state of Vermont have shied away from major alimony reform, to the disappointment of campaigners.

In a new report, the Family Division Oversight Committee of the state’s Supreme Court recommends new guidelines and procedures on financial settlements and alimony ( normally referred to in the UK as spousal maintenance). The measures would increase “predictability and consistency” they claim, whereas “rigid” regulations could prevent judges from tailoring their rulings to individual circumstances.

Campaign group Vermont Alimony Reform expressed its disappointment at the conclusions reached. Nevertheless, president Rick Fleming, a businessman in the southern town of Brattleboro, sounded a conciliatory note, saying:

“We are grateful that the Legislature has begun the discussion, and we’re hopeful that both the Senate and the House Judiciary committees hold hearings that will go beyond the scope of what was addressed in the report.”

On its website, Vermont Alimony Reform call for major reforms to divorce legislation in the ‘Green Mountain State’, which, along with Florida, is one of the few to still award unlimited lifetime alimony, a system which campaigners say places an enormous burden on the paying party.

The group calls instead for limited alimony dependent on the length of the marriage, an allowance for the paying party to retire and an end to alimony if the receiving party remarries or begins living with another partner.

The website declares:

Spousal support should not include support and maintenance of a former spouse’s new partner, either directly or indirectly.”

Vermont Alimony Reform also calls for greater focus on the encouragement of self-sufficiency and independence for the recipient spouse.

.. through the use of training and transitional spousal support with specific guidelines and formulas to give Family Court Judges direction and guidance, resulting in greater consistency, predictability, and fairness throughout the state of Vermont.”

Photo of Brattleboro, Vermont by Beyond My Ken via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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