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Cornell Library at Vermont Law & Graduate School

Vermont Legal Resources for Civil Matters

This guide is for Vermont residents who are seeking legal assistance with civil legal issues.

Bankruptcy

If you are struggling under a mountain of debt and looking for options, Vermont Law Help (a site maintained by Vermont Legal Aid and Legal Services Vermont) has a webpage dedicated to helping you decide whether bankruptcy is the right option for you.  

Legal Resources:
  • VT Bar Association Lawyer Referral -  call 1 (800) 639-7036 or fill-out the online request form. 
  • For qualified low-income Vermonters there a number of ways to access free or reduced cost legal services through Vermont Legal Aid or Legal Services Vermont - use the Legal Help Tool, call 1 (800) 889-2047, or fill-out the Legal Help Request Form
  • S. Royalton Legal Clinic -  call (802) 831-1500 or email smee@vermontlaw.edu - for veterans only - statewide.   

Consumer Issues

Vermont's consumer laws prohibit businesses from engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices.  Consumer legal issues can arise out of any number of personal consumer transactions. 

Vermont Law Help (a site maintained by Vermont Legal Aid and Legal Services Vermont) has a webpage that provides information on how Vermont laws impact consumer rights.  Legal issues arising from consumer transactions include privacy and safety (e.g., identity theft), debt collection, junk mail, telemarketing, car purchases, and student loans.  

Legal resources:
  • Vermont's Consumer Division of the Attorney General's Office is primarily responsible for enforcing Vermont's consumer laws.  Contact the Consumer Assistance Program to file a complaint online, call 1 (800) 649-2424, or email AGO.CAP@vermont.gov
  • For qualified low-income Vermonters there a number of ways to access free or reduced cost legal services through Vermont Legal Aid or Legal Services Vermont - use the Legal Help Tool, call 1 (800) 889-2047, or fill-out the Legal Help Request Form
  • Vermont Bar Association Lawyer Referral - call 1-800-639-7036 or fill-out the online request form.

Debt Collection

Being in debt and having creditors on your back can be a difficult experience. Having information about debt and acceptable debt collection practices can help alleviate some of your anxiety. 

Vermont Law Help (a site maintained by Vermont Legal Aid and Legal Services Vermont) has a webpage that discusses legal issues surrounding personal debt including debt collection practices and how to protect your income and assets from debt collection.

Legal resources:
  • Green Path Financial Wellness (financial counseling services) - call 1 (800) 550-1961.
  • For qualified low-income Vermonters there a number of ways to access free or reduced cost legal services through Vermont Legal Aid or Legal Services Vermont - use the Legal Help Tool, call 1 (800) 889-2047, or fill-out the Legal Help Request Form
  • Vermont Bar Association Lawyer Referral - call 1 (800) 639-7036 or fill-out the online request form. 

 

Disability

Disability can take many forms, physical, intellectual, developmental.  Disability can be associated with mental illness or traumatic brain injury. The list is not exhaustive, but it shows that the nature of the disability may affect the needs of the disabled individual.  Legal issues can arise in a number of ways as well.  An individual with disabilities may need long-term care, special education accommodations, or access through assistive technologies.  A disabled individual may be facing discrimination in employment or public housing. The legal issues are numerous. 

Vermont Law Help, a site operated by Vermont Legal Aid and Legal Services Vermont provides a webpage that discusses legal issues associated with disability. 

These resources may be of help:
Disability Rights Vermont whose mission is to promote the equality, dignity, and self-determination of people with disabilities.  DRVT provides information, referral and advocacy services, including legal representation when appropriate, to individuals with disabilities throughout Vermont. Call (800) 834-7890 or (802) 229-1355 or contact via email at info@disabilityrightsvt.org.
Vermont Department of Disability, Aging, and Independent Living provides resources for Vermonters who are over 60 years of age, those with developmental disabilities, those who are blind or visually impaired, those with physical disabilities and those who are deaf or hearing impaired, among others.  Call:  (802) 241-2401 or fill-out the Web Inquiry Form.  
Services for Senior Citizens - are available through the Adult Services Division - call Phone: (802) 241-0294 or use the Web Inquiry Form. 
Developmental Disability Services Division plans, coordinates, administers, monitors and evaluates state and federally funded services for people with developmental disabilities and their families within Vermont. Call (802) 241-0304 (Phone) or fill-out the Web Inquiry Form. 
Mental Health Services are provided by the Vermont Department of Mental Health.  The Department of Mental Health oversees the publicly-funded community-based and inpatient services to Vermonters to ensure early intervention and mental health treatment and supports as needed to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. Call Phone: (802) 241-0090 or fill-out the Web Inquiry Form.  
In July 2022, 988 became the national three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 

 

For Legal Help:

Vermont Legal Aid's work spans 11 broad projects, one of which is the Disability Law Project.  The DLP helps people with civil legal problems related to their disability. Legal Aid gives legal advice, supports self-advocacy, and represents clients and their families in courts, hearings and other settings.  Call (800) 889-2047 or fill out the online intake form.

 

Discrimination

Discrimination that occurs in housing, state government employment, and public accommodations may violate your individual liberties. 

Vermont Law Help (a site maintained by Vermont Legal Aid and Legal Services Vermont) has a number of webpages that provide information on discrimination or harassment experienced in housing, and employment

Legal resources to help you protect and enforce your rights:

Divorce, Child Support, Parentage

The end of a marriage can be a complicated legal process that gives rise to a number of legal issues including alimony or spousal maintenance, child support, property settlement agreements, and child custody.  Related to custody there are issues of who is a "parent" for purposes of Vermont law.

Vermont Law Help (a site maintained by Vermont Legal Aid and Legal Services Vermont) provides a "Roadmap of divorce in Vermont", information on spousal supportchild support and custody and establishing parentage

Legal Resources:

 

Domestic Violence - Relief from Abuse, Stalking, Sexual Assault

Vermont law provides some protection from physical or sexual abuse within families and other close relationships.  Relief from Abuse (RAF) actions are brought in the Family Division of the courts.  An action for relief from abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable adults is also brought in the Family Division.

If someone who is not a member of your family, (and not someone you lived with or dated) is stalking you or sexually assaulting you, you can seek an order requesting that the person stop in the Civil Division of the courts. 

Vermont Law Help (a site maintained by Vermont Legal Aid and Legal Services Vermont) provides a roadmap for "Getting a Relief from Abuse Order (RFA) in Vermont."  It also provides information on how to request an order against stalking or sexual assault. 

If you are being physically or sexually abused, neglected, or exploited, there are number of public service organizations that provide immediate help:

Legal Resources for victims of abuse or violence (where resource availability is limited by region or county, it is noted):
  • Have Justice Will Travel - call 1 (877) 496-8100 or email info@havejusticewilltravel.org - serves Bennington, Caledonia, Essex, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Washington & Windham Counties. 
  • WISE of the Upper Valley - call 1 (866) 348-9473 - serves Orange & Windsor counties.
  • Safeline call 1 (800) 639-7233 - serves Orange & parts of Windsor county. 
  • There a number of ways for qualified low-income Vermonters to access free or reduced cost legal services through Vermont Legal Aid or Legal Services Vermont - use the Legal Help Tool, call 1 (800) 889-2047, or fill-out the Legal Help Request Form
  • S. Royalton Legal Clinic -  call (802) 831-1500 or email smee@vermontlaw.edu - serves Orange, Windsor, and Washington counties.  Divorces, parentage/custody issues for survivors of domestic violence and other victims of crimes in Windsor and Orange counties.  Representation of children in Family and Probate Courts in Orange, Windsor and Washington counties. 
  • Prevent Child Abuse Vermont - call (802) 229-5724
  • Vermont Parent Representation Center - call (802) 540-0200 or email info@vtprc.org.

Employment Issues

The employment relationship can give rise to a number of legal issues. 

Vermont Law Help (a site maintained by Vermont Legal Aid and Legal Services Vermont) provides information on employment related legal issues such as worker rights (wages and hours), unemployment benefits, workers' compensation, and H2A farmworkers

Legal Resources: 
  • Vermont Department of Labor - call (802) 828-4000
  • For qualified low-income Vermonters there a number of ways to access free or reduced cost legal services through Vermont Legal Aid or Legal Services Vermont - use the Legal Help Tool, call 1 (800) 889-2047, or fill-out the Legal Help Request Form
  • Vermont Bar Association Lawyer Referral - call 1 (800) 639-7036 or fill-out the online request form. 
  • H2A Farmworkers - contact Cielo Mendoza, staff attorney at Legal Services Vermont, Ph. 1 (800) 889-2047.
  • Federal Employment Law - The U.S. Dep't. of Labor provides employment law assistance for workers and small businesses.  The DOL provides interactive online tools or Advisors that help employers and employees learn about their rights and responsibilities under various Federal employment laws.  (Topics include pay & benefits, health & safety, youth employment, and veterans' issues among others.) 

 

 

Environmental Issues

In Vermont, certain commercial and subdivision development projects require an Act 250 permit.  Act 250, the Land Use and Development Law, is a state statute that was enacted to provide a permit process that assesses the environmental, aesthetic, and community effects of a proposed development against 10 different criteria. The aim of the process is to ensure that development projects do not unduly harm the environment and to give a voice to the concerns of local and regional communities. The Natural Resources Board oversees the administration of Act 250 and the permitting process, including a determination of whether a permit is required. 

The Natural Resources Board has 9 district offices as follows:  Call for an appointment.

  • District 1 -  (Rutland county) District 1 Coordinator, Kim Lutchko, ph. (802) 786-5099 or email kim.lutchko@vermont.gov
  • District 2 - (Windham & southern half of Windsor  county)  - District 2 Coordinator, Stephanie Gile, ph. (802) 289-0597 or email stephanie.gile@vermont.gov
  • District 3 - (northern Windsor and Orange county except for towns of Washington, Williamstown, which are in District 5) - District 3 Coordinator, Linda Matteson, ph. (802) 289-0598, or email: linda.matteson@vermont.gov 
  • District 4 - (Chittenden County) - District 4 Coordinator, Rachel Lomonaco, ph. (802) 879-5658 or email rachel.lomonaco@vermont.gov
  • District 5 - (Washington & Lamoille counties, and towns of Williamstown, Washington and Orange) - District 5 Coordinator, Susan Baird, ph. (802) 476-0134 or email susan.baird@vermont.gov
  • District 6 - (Franklin & Grand Isle counties) - District 6 Coordinator, Josh Donabedian, ph. (802) 879-5657 or email joshua.donabedian@vermont.gov
  • District 7 - (Caledonia, Orleans & Essex counties) - District 7 Coordinator, Kirsten Sultan, ph. (802) 751-0126 or email kirsten.sultan@vermont.gov
  • District 8 - (Bennington county) - District 8 Coordinator, Kim Lutchko, ph. (802) 786-5099 or email kim.lutchko@vermont.gov
  • District 9- (Addison county) - District 9 Coordinator, Josh Donabedian, ph. (802) 879-5657 or email joshua.donabedian@vermont.gov

 

There are also state, local, or federal laws that may impact your development. Vermont's Department of Environmental Conservation is primarily responsible for assuring compliance with its environmental regulations and issuing environmental permits.   

If you disagree with a decision by an environmental regulator, the Vermont Judiciary provides information on environmental appeals and mediation

Legal resources:
Environmental Division Free Legal Clinic - call (802) 951-1740 - applies statewide
Environmental Advocacy Clinic at Vermont Law School - The clinic does not generally represent individuals; cases are chosen based upon the extent to which they tend to promote the public's interest in protecting the environment. Call (802) 831-1123 or email jmurphy@vermontlaw.edu.
Environmental Court Pro Bono Project - call 1 (800) 889-2047 or email Mary Ashcroft at the VT Bar Association - Mashcroft@vtbar.org.

 

Guardianships - Adult and Minor

The courts will appoint a guardian when a person is unable to care for himself physically or financially or both.  Once appointed, the guardian is responsible for making decisions about the person's welfare and wellbeing, and can exercise financial oversight of the income and resources of the person under guardianship.  The guardian should include the person who is under guardianship in decision-making processes, as much as possible. Guardianships can be modified and terminated.  Different rules apply to adult and minor guardianships. 

Adult Guardianships:

Minor Guardianships:

Typically parents are the guardians of their children, but there are times when it is in the best interests of the child for the court to appoint a non-parent guardian who will provide for the personal care and protection of the child or her property.  The Vermont Judiciary provides information on the role of the financial or custodial guardian for the minor, the processes involved in petitioning to be a guardian, and the obligations of the guardian, once appointed. The Judiciary also provides a link to the Department of Children and Families' Kinship Guide which provides information on the role and responsibilities of  adults who are caring for the children of relatives or family friends. 

Legal Resources:
  • For qualified low-income Vermonters there a number of ways to access free or reduced cost legal services through Vermont Legal Aid or Legal Services Vermont - use the Legal Help Tool, call 1 (800) 889-2047, or fill-out the Legal Help Request Form
  • Vermont Bar Association Lawyer Referral - call 1 (800) 639-7036 or fill-out the online request form. 
  • S. Royalton Legal Clinic -  call (802) 831-1500 or email smee@vermontlaw.edu - Provides representation of children in Family and Probate Courts in Orange, Windsor and Washington counties. 
  • Vermont Parent Representation Center - call (802) 540-0200 or email info@vtprc.org.  Per their website, VPRC is a non-profit, social work, public policy organization that is dedicated to ensuring, through advocacy and support, that children who can live safely with their parents are given a real opportunity to do so.  

Healthcare Issues

Healthcare matters cover a wide range of issues such as health insurance options, access to care, eligibility for state programs, Medicare, prescription drug coverage, billing issues, claim denials, and appeals of benefit denials.

Legal Resources:
The Health Care Advocate Project is one of Vermont Legal Aid's special law projects.  It is a free resource available to all Vermonters to help them with healthcare problems.  The Healthcare Project has developed a webpage that provides information on healthcare issues, but for free legal help call the Healthcare Advocate Helpline at 1 (800) 917-7787 or fill-out a Help Request Form online.

Housing - Landlord/Tenant (rentals)

Housing legal issues include both rental-related matters (e.g., landlord/tenant issues and evictions) and homeownership  (e.g., foreclosures).  

If you are a tenant and you are unable to pay your rent due to COVID, Reach Up Emergency Rental Assistance (provided other conditions are met) will provide up to 18 months of rental assistance and the Vermont Housing Authority will provide assistance with rent and utilities (provided conditions are met).

For landlords and tenants who would like to work out their problems without resorting to the courts, the Vermont Landlord Association offers the Landlord-Tenant Mediation Program for those who qualify. 

Vermont Law Help (a website maintained by Vermont Legal Aid & Legal Services Vermont)  provides general information on landlord tenant law, and specific information on Vermont's Residential Rental Agreements Act (RRAA), which includes a list of both landlord and tenant rights and duties.  The landlord/tenant pages also include a "Security Deposit Roadmap" and information on the eviction process.   

If you are being evicted or threatened with eviction, the Vermont Judiciary provides general information to help you understand the eviction process before you speak with an attorney. 

Legal Resources:

  • Free Statewide Tenant Hotline (802) 864-0099 or email vttenants@cvoeo.org.  For more information on tenant's rights visit the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) website.   
  • There a number of ways for qualified low-income Vermonters to access free or reduced cost legal services through Vermont Legal Aid or Legal Services Vermont - use the Legal Help Tool, call 1 (800) 889-2047, or fill-out the Legal Help Request Form.   
  • VT Bar Association Lawyer Referral - call 1 (800) 639-7036 or online request form. 
  • Vermont Volunteer Lawyers Project - rent escrow clinics
    •   Addison County - call (802) 388-4237
    •   Chittenden County - call (802) 863-3467
    •   Rutland County - call (802) 786-5880
    •   Washington County - call (802) 828-2091

 

Housing - Foreclosure

Vermont Law Help (a website maintained by Vermont Legal Aid & Legal Services Vermont) has a webpage that explain the foreclosure process in Vermont, including information on how you can request foreclosure mediation to discuss options for staying in your home. 

Legal Resources:
  • There a number of ways for qualified low-income Vermonters to access free or reduced cost legal services through Vermont Legal Aid or Legal Services Vermont - use the Legal Help Tool, call 1 (800) 889-2047, or fill-out the Legal Help Request Form
  • VT Bar Association Lawyer Referral - call 1 (800) 639-7036 or fill-out the online request form. 
  • The NeighborWorks Alliance of Vermont - consists of 5 local groups that provide statewide assistance with foreclosures: 
    • RuralEdge in Lyndonville call 1 (888) 698-8466,
    • Champlain Housing Trust in Burlington, call (802) 862-6244,
    • Downstreet Housing & Community Development in Barre, call (802) 476-4493,
    • NeighborWorks of Western Vermont in West Rutland, call (802) 438-2303, and
    • Windham & Windsor Housing Trust in Brattleboro, call (802) 254-4604.
  • Vermont Department of Financial Regulation Consumer Banking Mortgage Assistance  - The Vermont Banking Division may be able to help facilitate conversations between you and your bank.  Call (802) 828-3307 or email dfr.bnkconsumer@vermont.gov.

Immigration & Citizenship

Immigration and citizenship issues largely involve federal law.  Vermont Legal Aid does not provide advice on immigration and citizenship issues, but there are number of other resources available to Vermonters who need help with immigration or citizenship matters. 

Legal Resources:

 

Public Benefits (Assistance) - SSI & SSDI, DCF, Housing & Energy

Public benefits (assistance) whether state or federal can take many forms.

Vermont Law Help (a site maintained by Legal Service Vermont and Vermont Legal Aid) provides a webpage with information on how to navigate various benefits or assistance programs such as state DCF (Department for Children and Families) benefits and appeals, energy assistance, food benefits, housing assistance, and social security disability (SSDI) and supplemental income (SSI) benefits and appeals. 

Legal Resources:
  • There a number of ways for qualified low-income Vermonters to access free or reduced cost legal services through Vermont Legal Aid or Legal Services Vermont - use the Legal Help Tool, call 1 (800) 889-2047, or fill-out the Legal Help Request Form
  • For Social Security Disability and Supplemental Income assistance issues, there are three Social Security Offices in Vermont:
    • Burlington - call 1 (877) 840-5776
    • Montpelier - call 1 (877) 505-4542
    • Rutland   - call 1 (866) 690-1944
Vermont's Community Action Agencies provide lower-income Vermonters with help to meet their basic needs. 
  • BROC - Community Action in Southwestern Vermont (https://www.broc.org/) - 45 Union Street, Rutland, VT 05701.  Call (802) 775-0878 or 1 (800) 717-2762.
  • Capstone Community Action (Central Vermont) (https://www.capstonevt.org/) - 20 Gable Place, Barre, VT 05641.  Call (802) 479-1053 or 1 (800) 639-1053.
  • Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) (https://www.cvoeo.org/) - 255 South Champlain Street, Burlington, VT 05402.  Call (802) 862-2771 or 1 (800) 287-7971.
  • Northeast Kingdom Community Action (NEKCA) (https://www.nekcavt.org/) - 10 Main Street, Newport, VT 05855-5110.  Call (802) 334-7316 or (802) 748-6040 (St. Johnsbury).
  • Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) (https://sevca.org/) - 91 Buck Drive, Westminster, VT 05158.  Call (802) 722-4575 or 1 (800) 464-9951. 

 

Seniors

Do you need help with healthcare documents (a living will, power of attorney, appointment of healthcare agent), estate planning documents (wills and trusts) or probate administration (what to do when someone dies leaving property)?  

Vermont Law Help (a website maintained by Vermont Legal Aid & Legal Services Vermont) has a webpage that is dedicated to senior issues and concerns. 

Vermont Association of Area Agencies on Aging provide information and help to Vermonters who are 60+ years of age and to their families. The helpline is 1-800-642-5119. The Area Agencies provide resources such as meals and nutrition, Medicare information and advocacy services.  The are 5 regional offices:

  • Age Well - serving Addison, Chittenden, and Franklin/Grand Isle counties (except for Granville & Hancock).  Call (802) 865-0360. 
  • Northeast Kingdom Council on Aging - serving Caledonia, Essex and Orleans Counties.  Call (802) 748-5812
  • Central Vermont Council on Aging - serving Orange, Washington and Lamoille Counties (Includes Granville, Hancock. Pittsfield, Bethel, Rochester, Royalton, Sharon & Stockbridge).  Call (802) 479-0531.
  • Senior Solutions (Council on Aging for Southeastern Vermont) - serving Windham & Windsor counties (except for Bethel, Rochester, Royalton, Sharon & Stockbridge.  Includes Searsburg, Readsboro, Thetford & Winhall).  Call (802) 885-2669.
  • Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging - serving Bennington & Rutland Counties (except for Pittsfield, Winhall, Searsburg & Readsboro).  in Rutland call (802) 786-5990 and in Bennington call (802) 442-5436

 

Legal Resources:
  • Vermont Legal Aid provides free legal resources to Vermonters who are 60 or older through its Elder Law Project
  • For qualified low-income Vermonters there a number of ways to access free or reduced cost legal services through Vermont Legal Aid or Legal Services Vermont - use the Legal Help Tool, call 1 (800) 889-2047, or fill-out the Legal Help Request Form
  • VT Bar Association Lawyer Referral -  call 1 (800) 639-7036 or fill-out the online request form. 

Small Business

Starting and operating a small business involves many different areas of the law.  Vermont's Community Legal Information Center has numerous books that are available to the public and which take a business owner through the steps of starting and operating a business.  You may access a list of those books here or you can go to the Vermont Law and Graduate School online library catalog (Julien) to look for CLIC holdings.  

Once you have decided to form a business a good place to start is the Vermont Secretary of State's Office which provides an online Business Start-up Tool or call (800) 439-8683.  

Helpful resources for getting started: 
For legal help:
  • Vermont Bar Association Lawyer Referral - call 1 (800) 639-7036 or fill-out the online request form. 
  • Vermont Law and Graduate School - Entrepreneurship & Legal Lab (VLSELL) - offers support, education, and outreach on legal topics impacting diverse and disadvantaged businesses and business owners in Vermont. 

 

 

Small Claims

Small claims court is available only if you are suing or being sued to recover an amount of money that does not exceed $5,000. 

If you are considering a lawsuit, the Vermont Judiciary provides guidance to help you figure out whether small claims is right for you.

Legal Services Vermont and Vermont Legal Aid cannot help with small claims cases, but Vermont Law Help (a website maintained by Vermont Legal Aid & Legal Services Vermont) has a webpage that guides you through the small claims process and includes an instructional video road map. 

Legal Resources:  Most people represent themselves in small claims court, but here are some resources to consider.
  • Chittenden County Bar Small Claims Clinic - call (802) 879-6304.
  • VT Bar Association Lawyer Referral - call 1 (800) 639-7036 or fill-out the online request form. 
  • ABA Free Legal Answers Vermont - is a free service provided by the American Bar Association that allows qualified individuals to ask volunteer attorneys a specific civil legal question.

 

Taxes

If you have received a letter from the IRS or the Vermont Department of Taxes that says you owe money, you have options on how to respond. 

Vermont Law Help (a website maintained by Vermont Legal Aid & Legal Services Vermont) has a webpage on taxes that provides information on what to do if the IRS says you owe money including penalties for late filing and late payment of taxes. 

The Taxpayer Advocate is available when the taxpayer has not been able to resolve tax issues through normal agency channels.

Legal Resources:
Free Tax Filing Services:

Veterans' Services

If you  have questions about veteran's benefits or services, try Vermont's Office of Veteran Affairs webpage on Benefits and Services or call (802) 828-3379.

Legal Help:
  • Stateside Legal - provides self-help, advocacy and legal assistance. 
  • For qualified low-income Vermonters there a number of ways to access free or reduced cost legal services through Vermont Legal Aid or Legal Services Vermont - use the Legal Help Tool, call 1 (800) 889-2047, or fill-out the Legal Help Request Form
  • S. Royalton Legal Clinic -  call (802) 831-1500 or email smee@vermontlaw.edu - deals with VA disability, discharge, upgrades, etc.  Applies statewide.   Other matters for Veterans include bankruptcy, housing, landlord/tenant, Social Security disability, and wills.  For these matters services are for residents of Orange and Windsor counties. 
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