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Divorce in Maine

Divorce in Maine



In the past decade, Maine’s divorce laws and regulations have experienced noteworthy changes aimed at modernizing the legal framework, promoting fairness, and prioritizing the well-being of families navigating divorce proceedings. From property division to child custody, these updates highlight Maine’s commitment to addressing contemporary family dynamics. This article offers an overview of key amendments in Maine’s divorce laws and regulations from 2013 to 2023, organized by the year of implementation.

2013: No-Fault Divorce Facilitation

   – Simplified the process of obtaining a no-fault divorce, streamlining requirements for couples.

2014: Property Division Guidelines

   – Introduction of guidelines for equitable distribution of marital property, ensuring a fair allocation of assets.

2015: Child Custody Focus

   – Emphasis on the best interests of the child when determining custody arrangements.

2016: Spousal Support Factors

   – Clarification of factors considered when awarding spousal support, including financial circumstances.

2017: Digital Documentation Acceptance

   – Adoption of digital documentation and electronic filing options to enhance efficiency.

2018: Parenting Plan Emphasis

   – Focus on comprehensive parenting plans detailing custody, visitation, and child support arrangements.

2019: Child Support Guidelines Review

   – Periodic review and potential adjustment of child support guidelines to reflect changing economic conditions.

2020: Collaborative Divorce Recognition

   – Acknowledgment and promotion of collaborative divorce as an alternative dispute resolution method.

2021: Domestic Violence Protections

   – Strengthening protections for victims of domestic violence during divorce proceedings.

2022: High-Asset Divorce Considerations

   – Exploration of specialized guidelines for divorces involving complex financial assets.

2023: Online Divorce Filing Options

   – Introduction of online divorce filing options for increased accessibility and convenience.

Maine’s dedication to updating its divorce laws reflects its commitment to supporting families through challenging times. By adapting to changing family dynamics and ensuring equitable legal processes, Maine continues to uphold its principles of justice and fairness.

Residency and Filing Needs

There are some aspects of divorce in Maine that you need to know about before proceeding with anything. First off, if one spouse intends to file, that spouse will then be called the ‘Plaintiff.’ The other spouse will be called the ‘Defendant’ in the matter.

Once divorce is eminent, at least one of these requirements in the state of Maine needs to be met before filing.

• The Plaintiff must be a Maine resident for at least six months prior to filing for divorce.

• While Plaintiff is a resident, both parties must have been married in the State.

• While Plaintiff is a resident, both parties must have been in the State during the time when the cause of divorce occurred.

• If Plaintiff isn’t a resident, the Defendant must be.

• Divorce may also be filed in either county residence of Plaintiff or Defendant.

Reasons for Divorce in Maine

There are many reasons for it, but for the most part the court separates all reasons into two categories:

• No-Fault Divorce

• Fault Divorce

“No-Fault” basically can mean one thing –

1) Irreconcilable Marital Differences

“Fault” divorce in Maine, however, is an entirely different situation.

Grounds for that divorce can include one or more of these as determined by a court of law:

• Natural Impotence

• Extreme Cruelty

• Adultery

• Willful Abandonment for at Least Three Years

• Evidence of Alcohol and/or Drug Abuse

• Denial of Marital Duties/Marital Support

• Cruel and Abusive Treatment

• Institutionalization for Mental Illness for Seven Consecutive Years

The Definition of “Legal Separation” Versus “Divorce”

Of course, both parties to a marriage may elect to “legally separate” instead of proceed through a divorce. What’s the difference?

A legal separation is essentially both parties agreeing to go their separate ways without dissolving the marriage. There are many reasons for doing this, one being the need to retain certain benefits within the marriage agreement that would otherwise be discontinued upon a divorce. For instance: medical insurance.

Typically, though, a legal separation does lead to a divorce agreement, in which case all grounds for divorce move forward, as well as the marriage then becomes dissolved in a court of law along with any other benefits and assets, questions of child custody, parenting time, and support (if children are in fact present).

The Primary Documents For a Divorce in Maine

Ten or twenty documents may be included in the proceeding, not limited to these:

• Confidential Family Matter Summary Sheet

• Affidavit Concerning Child Custody

• Financial Statement

• Entry of Appearance

• Marital Settlement Agreement

• Complaint for Divorce

• And Judgment of Divorce

Divorce in Maine : Property Distribution

When it comes to divorce in Maine, it’s important to know that the state favors “equitable distribution.” This simply means that all assets are divided equally among both parties regardless of either party’s wishes. Sometimes, though, this doesn’t necessarily mean that “equitable” will be equal. Rather, the word fair is more the proper term to be used when dealing with property distribution.

Typically the court will encourage both the Plaintiff and Defendant to come to an agreement about property distribution. If there’s no agreement, the court will decide.

In addition, the court may also award the wife her former or maiden name upon agreement of the divorce.

Divorce in Maine : On the Subject of Spousal Support

This issue may only be relevant if the court or both parties see a need for either party to support the other financially for any reason either on a temporary or permanent basis.

Divorce in Maine : Dealing With Child Custody

Generally speaking, parents can come to an agreement on this matter regarding divorce in Maine in several ways:

• Joint Physical Custody

• Sole Physical Custody

• Joint Legal Custody

• Sole Physical Custody

“Joint Physical Custody” is essentially sharing custody of the child(ren) in terms of where the child(ren) may live: either in mother’s residence, or father’s residence. Child(ren) retains two addresses. Both parties are equally responsible for the well-being of the child(ren) as well as for the education of the child(ren).

“Sole Physical Custody” is when one party retains physical custody of child(ren) and the other party retains “Visitation Rights.”

“Joint Legal Custody” is when both parents share the right to make important decisions in the life/lives of the child(ren), which may include legal name, lifestyle, needs, etc. etc.

“Sole Legal Custody” is when only one parent retains the right to make important decisions in the life/lives of the child(ren).

Divorce in Maine : How to Determine Child Support If Necessary

Typically, the non-custodial parent pays child support. The Income Shares Model is employed to determine the amount. By combining W2’s and other worksheets, an amount is determined that would best suit the needs of the child(ren) without unfavorable financial problems on the non-custodial party.

Generally speaking, both parties may agree to an amount. But in the event that a Plaintiff and Defendant don’t, the court may utilize state support guidelines to arrive to a decision as to how much support is necessary for the child(ren).