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: Vermont

Vermont: Abuso del Litigio

What is the definition of abusive litigation in Vermont?

“Abusive litigation” means a legal action taken in court or related to a court case that is intended to abuse, harass, intimidate, or threaten you, or keep ongoing contact with you.1 It is often carried out by an abusive partner who is trying to keep power and control over a victim who has left the relationship or is in the process of trying to leave. Abusive litigation can be any kind of legal action, including:

  • filing or serving a summons, complaint, or petition;
  • filing or serving a motion, notice of court date, or order to appear; or
  • filing or serving a subpoena, subpoena duces tecum, request for interrogatories, notice of deposition, or another discovery request.2 

If you are facing abusive litigation, you may be able to ask the judge to issue an order restricting abusive litigation.

1 VT ST 15 § 1181(1)(C)
2 VT ST 15 § 1181(3)

What can a judge include in an order restricting abusive litigation?

A judge who believes that litigation is abusive will dismiss, deny, strike, or otherwise resolve any motions or other legal actions “with prejudice,” which means that they cannot be re-filed.1 In an order restricting abusive litigation, the judge may include any conditions that are necessary and appropriate, including:

  • awarding you reasonable attorney’s fees and the costs of responding to the abusive litigation; and
  • putting pre-filing restrictions on the abuser to prevent him/her from filing any future cases against you or your children without court permission.2 

1 VT ST 15 § 1184(a)
2 VT ST 15 § 1184(b)

How do I prove the abuser is engaging in abusive litigation?

There are certain circumstances that will create what is called a “rebuttable presumption” that the court case against you is, in fact, abusive litigation. This means that if you can show one of the following situations has happened, the judge will assume the litigation is abusive and the abuser would then bear the burden of proving otherwise:

  1. The same or substantially similar issues have been litigated in any court between you and the abuser within the past five years;
  2. The same or substantially similar issues have been raised or pled in a court case in the past five years and the judge heard the evidence and made a decision (decided on the merits) or it was dismissed;
  3. The abuser has been punished (sanctioned) by any court in the past ten years for filing one or more cases against you that were found to be without a legal basis (frivolous), harassing (vexatious), “intransigent,” or in bad faith; or
  4. The abuser has been found by any court to have engaged in abusive litigation or similar acts and that court placed pre-filing restrictions on him/her.1

1 VT ST 15 § 1183