Maine Divorce Laws

Divorce Laws in Maine

In Maine, couples have the option to file for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences (“no-fault” divorce) or due to adultery, desertion, or cruelty (“fault-based” divorce). Irreconcilable differences are the most common basis cited in contested and uncontested divorces, as it does not involve apportioning blame or fault.

Maine divorceThose wishing to seek a divorce in Maine must meet two prerequisites before they can file: either you or your spouse must be a resident of Maine for at least six months, and the divorce must be filed at a District Court close to both parties’ residences ($120 filing fee applies). This process allows couples to formally dissolve their marriage without attempting to implicate the other party in misbehavior.

What are the residency requirements for divorce in Maine?

If you are considering a divorce, it is important to understand the residency requirements of the state in which the petition will be filed. In general, all states will require either the petitioner or the respondent to have lived in the state for a certain period of time immediately prior to filing divorce papers. This requirement was designed to prevent forum shopping: filing for divorce in a state with more favorable laws than where either party typically resides. However, couples that own property in multiple states, or who have recently relocated in the process of separating, may face additional complications over residency regulations. It is best to consult with a lawyer specializing in family law to discuss the specifics of each individual situation and its legal implications.

According to ME ST T. 19-A § 901(1), to file for complaint about divorce in Maine, the Family Court must have jurisdiction over your case. The spouse who is seeking a divorce may be able to apply for a complaint about divorce under the following conditions:

  • The spouse has resided in the state for a period of no less than 6 months at the time of their applying for divorce
  • The spouse is a resident of the state and was married in the state
  • The spouse filing is a resident of the state and the spouses were residing in the state when the cause of the divorce came about
  • The defendant is a resident of the state
  • The divorce may be applied for in either of the counties in which the spouses reside

Maine Filing Grounds for Divorce

Each state has different grounds for divorce. These are the reasons why two individuals, or one individual, requests a divorce. Not all divorce grounds in other states are legal in the state of Maine. The individuals may file for a divorce together and decide congruently the grounds for divorce, or one individual may bring the case before the court where he or she will have to prove the decided grounds.

Maine has two different categories of divorce grounds. The first category is under No-Fault grounds. This category cites that no individual is solely responsible for the marriage’s dissolution. The irreconcilable difference is the only ground legal under the No-Fault category. Individuals filing for a divorce on these grounds are often preceded by marriage counseling.

The second category is under Fault grounds. These grounds normally cite one individual responsible for the dissolution of the marriage. Fault grounds include nonsupport in a gross manner with the ability to provide, abusive and cruel treatment, adultery, extreme cruelty, impotence, desertion for three or more years before divorce petitioning, a mental illness that requires confinement for a minimum of seven years prior to the divorce filing, and habitual drunken behavior or habitual drug usage.

In order to be able to apply for a complaint about divorce, certain grounds must be met and these are listed below:

No-fault based grounds

  1. Irreconcilable differences in the marriage

Fault-based grounds

  1. Adultery by one of the spouses
  2. Extreme cruelty
  3. Impotence
  4. Desertion for a period of no less than 3 years
  5. Any habitual drug or alcohol abuse
  6. Non-support when one of the spouses has the ability to be able to provide for the other spouse
  7. Cruel and abusive behavior of any type
  8. Mental illness, which has lasted for a period of 7 years or more Maine Revised Statutes – Title 19A – Sections: 902

Uncontested Divorce in Maine

In Maine, an uncontested divorce can occur in two ways – by agreement or default. To avoid disputes over important matters such as division of property, custodial rights, and alimony, it is recommended to seek legal advice even if the divorce appears to be a mutual decision.

Doing so can help identify any potential issues that are overlooked and ensure all parties’ interests are taken into account. If an agreement is reached between both spouses on all aspects of the divorce, a settlement agreement is filed with the court and a hearing may be held for finalization.

However, if disagreements arise and an agreement cannot be reached, the divorce becomes contested and may be taken to trial. Therefore, it is best to consult with a lawyer for guidance during this difficult and potentially contentious process.

Divorce Documentation

Maine requires several different documents when filing for divorce. Some of these include a Complaint about Divorce and Judgment of Divorce, a Financial Statement, an Affidavit Concerning Child Custody, a Confidential Family Matter Summary Sheet, a Marital Settlement Agreement, and an Entry of Appearance. More documents may be necessary or fewer depending on the circumstances, subsequent children, and length of the marriage.

Filing with the Court in Maine

You must file your Maine divorce papers in the court located in the County where you presently reside. We will provide the court information in the documents that we send to you, but some of the courts in Maine are listed below:

  • Kennebec County Superior Court:
    95 State St., Augusta, ME 04330 Phone: (207) 624-5800
  • Cumberland County Superior Court:
    142 Federal St., Portland, ME 04112 Phone: (207) 822-4113 TTY: (207) 822-4212

If your County court is not listed, the information for your court will be included in the divorce papers we send you.

Property division when divorcing

Maine is considered an equitable distribution state where all the property in the marriage is to be divided fairly rather than equally. If the individuals involved cannot reach a decision on the subsequent property then the court will determine which spouse gets what kind of property. Property distribution can depend on which parent has custody of any children present.

In Maine, any property and debt may be divided by the spouses under the marital settlement agreement. If no agreement can be reached, the court will divide any property in an equitable fashion. The Domestic Court will first decide which of the property is considered marital. A value is then put onto the property and this value is divided between the spouses. When dividing property equitably the following is considered:

  1. The contribution of each spouse to the marital property
  2. The value of the value set for each spouse
  3. The economic situation of each of the spouses at the time of property division and the desirability of the spouse who has been given custody of the child, to remain in the property for a reasonable amount of time Maine Revised Statutes – Title 19A – Sections: 953

Maine child custody

In the State of Maine, when it comes to determining child custody arrangements in the event of a divorce, the interests of the children take precedence over those of their parents. To ensure that these arrangements are ultimately in the best interest of the children involved, the state may require mediation, arbitration, or litigation. By working closely with family law attorneys and considering all options carefully, divorcing families can determine a custody arrangement that is practical, equitable, and beneficial to all involved.

The courts will consider the following factors when reaching any child custody decisions:

  • The age of the child at the time of filing for divorce
  • The relationship between the parents and the child
  • If the child is old enough their considerations are taken into account
  • The child’s current living arrangements and maintaining continuity
  • Motivation of the spouses when it comes to love, affection, and guidance
  • The adjustment of the child to its surrounding
  • How the spouses feel about each other and whether they are likely to encourage a relationship with the other spouse
  • Any effect on the child if one parent is given sole custody
  • Any history of domestic abuse
  • The physical well-being of the child
  • Whether the child in question is being breastfed at the time
  • Convictions for a sex offense

Maine Revised Statutes – Title 19A – Sections: 1501, 1653

Child support issues

In Maine, child support is typically awarded until a child reaches the age of 18 or 19. The Income Shares Model is used to calculate the amount of support owed and takes into account a few key factors.

Either or both of the parents may be asked to contribute towards child support costs. Child support guidelines will be followed and the following will be taken into account:

  1. The number of children that require support
  2. If child support and property division is being decided at the same time
  3. The financial resources and the needs of each of the spouses
  4. The standard of living of the child if the divorce had not taken place
  5. The emotional and physical needs of the child
  6. Educational needs
  7. Inflation is taken into account for the cost of living
  8. Any tax consequences for the spouses
  9. Any assets that produce an income over $10,000,00 which are owned by either of the spouses
  10. Whether any of the children are above the age of 12
  11. Any costs for transportation of the child Maine Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 19-A, Sections 2001 to 2009

To make an initial estimation of the amount due, one can complete Court Form FM 84: Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligation. However, additional support may be requested by the court depending on the circumstances.

Alimony in Maine

In Maine, alimony (sometimes called spousal support) is an order of financial assistance given by one spouse to the other after a divorce. It is intended to help the receiving spouse transition to a single life, and its amount and duration are based on several factors including the length of the marriage, age and health of each spouse, earning abilities of each spouse and division of property arrangements. Generally, if the marriage was longer than 10 years, the court presumes that general alimony is appropriate.

Maine has four main types of alimony:

  1. General alimony which helps the receiving spouse maintain a reasonable post-divorce standard of living;
  2. Transitional alimony which provides short-term assistance;
  3. Reimbursement alimony which achieves financial fairness between the spouses;
  4. Interim alimony which may be granted while a divorce is pending. These payments must be made until ordered to cease by the court or until the receiving spouse remarries, starts cohabiting with another person, or dies.

The amount and duration of alimony in Maine depend heavily on the circumstances of each particular case, and judges have discretion in awarding it. Child custody and child support may also be taken into consideration when deciding on alimony matters, although marital fault is not usually considered unless significant economic misconduct can be proven. Ultimately, the court aims to provide fair financial support for both spouses, helping them make the adjustment to single life as seamless as possible.

FAQs on Divorce Laws in Maine

How are assets split in divorce in Maine?

In divorce proceedings in Maine, the division of marital property is based on equitable distribution. This means that the courts will split marital assets between both parties in a manner they deem to be fair. The court considers several factors when making this determination, such as the length of the marriage, the income and earning potential of both parties and any pre- or post-nuptial agreements between them.

What are the rules of divorce in Maine?

To file for divorce in Maine, one of the spouses must have resided in the state for at least six months prior to filing. Additionally, any couple wishing to file for divorce must meet at least one of the state’s grounds for divorce, which include adultery, abandonment, irreconcilable differences, and abuse.

Who gets what in a divorce in Maine?

During divorce proceedings in Maine, the court will divide all marital property and debt equitably between both parties. This includes any jointly owned real estate, bank accounts or investments. Any property owned prior to marriage remains the separate property of the spouse who owned it.

How long does divorce take in Maine?

The length of time necessary to complete a divorce depends upon the complexity of the individual case. Generally speaking, however, couples can expect to wait at least 60 days after filing for divorce before their divorce is finalized.

How many years do you have to be married to get alimony in Maine?

Under Maine law, one party must have been married to the other for at least seven years to qualify for alimony. The court may also grant alimony if one party has made significant financial contributions during a shorter marriage.

Who qualifies for alimony in Maine?

In order to receive alimony, one of the spouses should meet several criteria set by Maine law. This includes demonstrating need, being financially unable to support themselves without assistance from their former spouse, and having been married to their former partner for longer than seven years.

What is the average cost of divorce in Maine?

The average cost of divorce in Maine will vary depending on a variety of factors including legal fees, filing fees, and services used. On average, couples typically spend anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 on their divorce, with complex cases often costing more.

How much does a divorce cost in Maine?

The cost of filing for divorce in Maine is $120 plus any applicable county fees. Additionally, couples may incur legal fees depending on their attorney’s payment structure.

Does adultery affect divorce in Maine?

Yes. Adultery is recognized as one of Maine’s grounds for divorce. If one party can demonstrate that their spouse has had an extramarital affair, they may be able to file for a no-fault divorce on the grounds of adultery.

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