Overview of Vermont Courts
In order to find Vermont court records, it's helpful to understand how the state court system works. Each state varies and we've compiled this information to help your search. You can also start your search by going directly to courts by county.
The Vermont trial court system consists of Superior Courts and Judicial Bureau.
Superior Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, and are organized into court divisions by case type. Divisions in each county include Civil, Criminal, Family, and Probate. The Environmental Division is a specialized division that handles environmental cases for the entire state from one office location, with trials held in the county in which the case arose. The Judicial Bureau has statewide jurisdiction over most traffic and municipal ordinance violations and operates out of one office location, with hearings held in multiple locations.
Superior Courts are organized into court divisions based on case type. Divisions within a Superior Court include Civil, Criminal, Family, Probate, Juvenile, and Environmental. Each of Vermont's 14 counties has a Civil, Criminal, Family, and Probate Division. Bennington, Rutland, Windham, and Windsor Counties each have a second Probate Divisions in a separate location.
Civil Division hears civil cases including personal injury, breach of contract, eviction, foreclosure, land disputes, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and small claims cases with money damages up to $5,000. The Civil Division also hears appeals from the Probate Division. Civil Division shares jurisdiction with the Vermont Supreme Court over certain types of cases, including certiorari, mandamus, prohibition, and quo warranto.
Criminal Division hears all criminal felony and misdemeanor cases, some municipal ordinance violations, and some civil cases including appeals from the Judicial Bureau, DUI driver's license suspensions, extradition proceedings, forfeitures (automobile, drug, liquor, and fish and wildlife), sex offender proceedings, and some municipal parking violations.
Family Division hears family-related cases including divorce, annulment, dissolution of civil union, separation, desertion, parentage, child custody, spousal and child support, visitation, domestic abuse orders of protection, juvenile matters, abuse and exploitation proceedings, protective services for developmentally disabled persons, involuntary sterilization, mental health proceedings, and commitments to the Vermont State Hospital. Child support cases are usually heard by Family Court Magistrates in separate Family Court proceedings.
Probate Division handles probate of wills, settlement of estates, administration of trusts, adoptions, guardianships, emancipation of minors, judicial consent for marriage of a minor, uniform gifts to minors, name changes, corrections of birth, marriage, and death certificates, proceedings related to cemeteries and disposal of remains, and various other matters.
Environmental Division is a single court with statewide jurisdiction. The division has a central office, but trials are held in the county in which the case arose. This division hears appeals from state land use permit (Act 250) decisions, Agency of Natural Resources environmental permits and other decisions, and municipal land use decisions. Environmental Division also hears municipal land use enforcement cases, Agency of Natural Resources environmental law enforcement actions, and state land use permit revocations.
Civil violations incur lesser penalties than criminal misdemeanors, and may include violations of laws or regulations governing traffic, alcohol and tobacco, ephedrine, littering, burning and waste disposal, hazing, unauthorized disclosure of criminal records, conditions of employment, scrap metal and lead, tree cutting, misuse of agricultural labels, and cruelty to animals. Some municipal ordinance violations and minor fish and wildlife violations are also included.
The Judicial Bureau does not have jurisdiction over municipal parking violations.
|Case Type||Court Type|
|General Civil - Unlimited|
|General Civil - Limited|
|Foreclosures and Liens|
|Real Estate Title and Boundary|
|Landlord / Tenant|
|Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders|
|Administrative Agency Appeals|
|Felony Preliminary Hearings|
|Traffic and Infractions|
|Domestic Relations||Superior Courts|
|Child Custody and Visitation|
|Domestic Violence Protection Order|
|Child Abuse and Neglect|
|Termination of Parental Rights|
|Children in Need of Supervision|
|Mental Health||Superior Courts|
|Other Mental Health Cases|
|Wills & Estates|
|Guardianships and Conservatorships|