Filing for Divorce in Maine

Filing for Divorce in Maine

Getting a Divorce in Maine? Divorce Law Cheat Sheet for the State of Maine

1. What are the residency requirements for filing for divorce in Maine?

In Maine, there are several ways to meet the residency requirements. You may file in Maine if:

  • You or your spouse has been a resident of the state for at least six months before filing.
  • You are a resident of the state and you were married in the state.
  • You are a resident of the state and you and your spouse lived in the state when the cause of the divorce occurred.

Maine law also requires you to file in the county where either you or your spouse lives.

2. Does Maine have a waiting period?

The court will not hold a final hearing on your divorce for at least 60 days after filing.

3. Does the state have grounds for divorce?

Yes. In Maine, you can file for a divorce on these grounds:

  • Adultery – having an affair.
  • Impotence.
  • Extreme cruelty.
  • Desertion for at least three years before filing.
  • Extreme, repeated intoxication or use of drugs.
  • Nonsupport (this means that one of you has the ability to provide for the other but completely or cruelly refuses or neglects to do so).
  • Cruel and abusive treatment.
  • Incapacitation, if there is a judicial ruling confirming your spouse is incapacitated and a guardian has been appointed for him or her.

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You also may file on the ground of irreconcilable differences. If your spouse denies that there are irreconcilable differences, the court may put your case on hold and require you to attend counseling before ruling on this ground.

4. How does Maine determine the division of property?

You and your spouse are encouraged to come up with a settlement on your own and present it to the court. If you can’t agree, the court will divide your property for you.

In Maine, marital property means all property acquired by you and your spouse after you were married (regardless of whose name is on the title), with the exception of:

  • Property that you acquired by gift or inheritance.
  • Property that you received in exchange for property that you acquired by gift or inheritance.
  • Property that you or your spouse acquired after you were legally separated.
  • Property that you and your spouse agree to leave out of the discussion.
  • Any increase in value of property that you acquired before you were married and any increase in value of your non-marital property (unless that increase is a result of the investment of marital funds or a result of effort on the part of you or your spouse to manage or improve that property).

The court will divvy your marital property in a way it finds most fair, taking into account the following factors:

  • You and your spouse’s contributions to the acquisition of your marital property, including any contribution as a homemaker.
  • The value of your separate property.
  • You and your spouse’s economic circumstances, including whether your home or the right to live in your home should be awarded to the parent with custody.

5. Does Maine require mediation before a divorce is granted?

The court may order you and your spouse to attend mediation any time there is an issue in dispute between you.

6. How does the state determine child custody?

Legal custody and physical custody are two different things. Legal custody outlines how involved each parent is in the major decisions of a child’s life where a child goes to school, what faith he or she is raised in and other biggies.

Physical custody addresses where a child will live and with whom. Visitation is then negotiated based your physical custody arrangement.

In Maine, custody might take several forms. Allocated parental rights and responsibilities means that responsibilities for various aspects of your child’s welfare are divided between you and your spouse, with the parent allocated a particular responsibility having the right to control that aspect of the child’s well-being. Responsibilities may be divided as a whole or proportionately between you and your spouse. Aspects of your child’s welfare for which responsibility may be divided include:

  • Primary physical residence.
  • Parent-child contact.
  • Support.
  • Education.
  • Medical and dental care.
  • Religious upbringing.
  • Travel boundaries and expenses.
  • Any other parental rights and responsibilities.

The parent allocated responsibility for a certain aspect of your child’s welfare may be required to inform the other parent of major changes in that aspect.

Shared parental rights and responsibilities  means that most or all those aspects listed above of your child’s welfare remain the joint responsibility and right of both you and your spouse. Both of you retain equal parental rights and responsibilities, and both of you make joint decisions regarding your child’s welfare. You and your spouse will have to keep one another informed of any major changes affecting your child’s welfare and consult in advance as much as possible on decisions related to your child’s welfare.

Sole parental rights and responsibilities means that one of you is granted exclusive parental rights and responsibilities for all aspects of your child’s welfare, with the possible exception of the right and responsibility for support.

The court considers your child’s best interest in making an award for custody. The safety and well-being of your child are primary concerns, taking into account the following factors:

  • Your child’s age.
  • Your child’s relationship with you and your spouse, as well as any other person who would be significant in his or her life.
  • Your child’s wishes, if the court decides he or she is old enough to express a preference.
  • How long your child has lived in his or her current situation and whether it’s best to continue that situation.
  • The stability of any proposed living arrangements for your child.
  • You and your spouse’s motivation with regard to custody and your abilities to give your child love, affection and guidance.
  • Your child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community.
  • You and your spouse’s abilities to allow your child frequent and continuing contact with the other parent.
  • You and your spouse’s abilities to cooperate or learn to cooperate in caring for your child.
  • Ways you and your spouse can resolve disputes, as well as the willingness of each of you to use those methods.
  • The effect on your child if one of you has sole authority over his or her upbringing.
  • Any evidence of domestic abuse between you and your spouse, and how that abuse affects your child’s safety and emotional health.
  • Evidence of child abuse by you or your spouse.
  • Any other factor that might have an affect on the physical and psychological well-being of your child.
  • Whether you or your spouse has misused the state’s protection-from-abuse process and seems less than able to cooperate with the other parent in raising your child.
  • If your child is younger than 1, whether he or she is being breastfed.
In Maine, there also are clear provisions for grandparents’ rights to visitation. The state defines a grandparent as a biological or adoptive parent of your child’s biological or adoptive parent. The court may grant a grandparent reasonable rights of visitation or access if it seems to be in the best interest of your child and would not significantly interfere with any parent-child relationship or with you or your spouse’s rightful authority over the child. To determine if this is the case, the court will consider
  • Your child’s age.
  • Your child’s relationship with his or her grandparents, including how much contact they had previously.
  • Your child’s wishes, if the court decides he or she is old enough to express a preference.
  • How long your child has been living in his or her current situation and whether it’s best to maintain that situation.
  • Stability of any proposed living arrangements for your child.
  • The motivation of everyone involved and their abilities to show your child love, affection and guidance.
  • Your child’s adjustment to his or her current home, school and community.
  • The ability of parents and grandparents to cooperate or learn to cooperate in raising your child.
  • Ways all of you can resolve disputes, as well as the willingness of each of you to use those methods.
  • Any other factor that might have an affect on the physical and psychological well-being of your child.
  • Whether a grandparent has been convicted of a sex offense or a sexually violent offense.

7. How does the state calculate child support?

Maine’s child support guidelines are based on the Income Shares model. It uses a child support table that reflects the percentage of combined gross income that parents living in the same household in Maine ordinarily spend on their children.

You and your spouse’s annual gross incomes are added together and compared with the child support table to determine the basic support for each child. The total basic support obligation then is determined by adding work-related child care costs; health insurance premiums; and extraordinary medical expenses (recurring, uninsured medical expenses of more than $250 per child per year) to the basic support amount.

The total basic support obligation is divided between you and your spouse in proportion to your gross incomes.

The court assumes that this figure is appropriate. But it will look at these factors in determining whether to deviate from the standard amount:

  • Using the state guidelines would result in an amount that is unfair or not in your child’s best interest.
  • You and your spouse have more than six children to support.
  • How the total child support obligation fits with the division of property in your divorce and any spousal support (alimony).
  • The financial resources of your child, if any.
  • You and your spouse’s financial resources and needs, including any non-recurring income that wasn’t included in the definition of gross income.
  • Your child’s standard of living if your marriage had continued.
  • Your child’s physical and emotional condition.
  • Your child’s educational needs.
  • Inflation related to the cost of living.
  • Any income or financial contributions from the person you are living with (or married to, in the case of modification).
  • Whether anyone else is financially dependent on you or your spouse, such as elderly relatives or children in college.
  • Any tax consequences if one of you is allowed to claim your child on federal taxes.
  • The fact that non-income-producing assets with a market value of $10,000 or more, such as vacant land or a vacation home, are assumed to earn a reasonable rate of return.
  • Whether a child 12 years or older still requires work-related child care.
  • Whether the person who will be paying support will face substantial transportation costs to allow parent-child contact. In this case, substantial means that transportation costs exceed 15 percent of the annual support.

8. How does the state determine and calculate alimony?

Alimony, or spousal support, is not a given in a divorce case. If you request alimony, the court will take a look at these factors:

  • How long you were married.
  • You and your spouse’s abilities to pay support.
  • You and your spouse’s ages.
  • You and your spouse’s employment history and employment potential.
  • You and your spouse’s income history and income potential.
  • You and your spouse’s education and training.
  • You and your spouse’s retirement and health insurance benefits.
  • The tax situation you and your spouse each face after the division of your marital property.
  • You and your spouse’s health and disabilities.
  • The tax consequences that would result if you are awarded alimony.
  • You or your spouse’s contributions as a homemaker.
  • You or your spouse’s contributions to the education or earning potential of the other.
  • Economic misconduct by you or your spouse that affected your marital property or income.
  • Your standard of living while you were married.
  • Your ability to become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time.
  • The effects of actual or potential income from marital or non-marital property awarded to each of you and the effects of child support on your need for support or your spouse’s ability to pay support.
  • Any other factors the court considers appropriate.

Alimony may include an award of property, including real estate, and it may required the one paying to maintain life insurance so support continues for the other if he or she dies. Payment does not necessarily end upon the death of the one paying alimony or the one receiving it, depending on the specifics of your case.

The court typically will not award alimony if you and your spouse were married for fewer than 10 years. It also typically will not award alimony for a period longer than half the length of time you were married if your marriage lasted between 10 and 20 years.

The court may order what is known as reimbursement support if there are exceptional circumstances, including economic misconduct by you or your spouse, or significant contributions by you or your spouse to the education or career of the other during your marriage.

9. Is there a waiting period before remarriage in Maine?
No, you are free to remarry after the court delivers the final judgment ending your marriage.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

You can find the Maine state statutes online, here.

The Maine State Bar Association offers forms and worksheets online, here.

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