Divorce Guide

Divorce Guide

Maine Divorce Laws

Residency Requirements for Divorce in Maine
Either spouse must be a resident of Maine, or the marriage or the grounds for divorce must have occurred in Maine. Otherwise, a person filing for divorce must be a resident of Maine for 6 months immediately prior to filing. The divorce may be filed for in the District Court in the county where either spouse resides. However, the defendant spouse has the right to have the proceeding moved to Superior Court.
[Maine Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 4, Section 155 and Title 19-A, Section 901].

Legal Grounds for Divorce in Maine

  1. No Fault Divorce: Irreconcilable marital differences.
    [Maine Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 19-A, Section 902].
  2. General Divorce:
    1. Impotence
    2. Adultery
    3. Alcoholism or drug addiction
    4. Confinement for incurable insanity for 7 consecutive years
    5. Desertion for 3 years
    6. Cruelty or abuse
    7. Nonsupport whereby a spouse is able to provide support but grossly, wantonly, or cruelly refuses or neglects to provide suitable maintenance for the complaining spouse
    [Maine Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 19-A, Section 902].

Legal Separation in Maine
Legal separation will be granted if the spouses are or desire to be living apart with just cause for more than 60 days. If there are minor children, mediation between the spouses is required.
[Maine Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 19-A, Section 851].

Simplified/Special Divorce Procedures in Maine
If the divorce is not contested, testimony of a corroborating witness is not necessary.
[Maine Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 19-A, Section 901].

Divorce Mediation or Counseling Requirements
Mediation is mandatory in Maine if 1 of the spouses denies that there are irreconcilable differences or it is a contested divorce and children are involved. In addition, at any time a court may order mediation.
[Maine Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 19-A, Sections 251 and 902].

Divorce Property Distribution
Maine is an "equitable distribution" state. Each spouse retains his or her individual property, including:

  1. Any gifts or inheritances
  2. Any property acquired prior to marriage
  3. Any increase in the value of property listed in 1 or 2 above, or property acquired in exchange for property listed in 1 or 2
The marital property is divided between the spouses after considering the following factors:
  1. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker
  2. The value of each spouse's property
  3. The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live in the home for a reasonable period of time to the spouse having custody of any children
Marital fault is not a factor.
[Maine Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 19-A, Section 953].

Alimony and Spousal Support
Either spouse may be ordered to pay a reasonable amount of alimony. The court may also order that a spouse's real estate be awarded to the other spouse for life as ali-mony. The court may also order that a lump-sum be paid to the other spouse as alimony. Marital fault is not a factor. There is a presumption that no general alimony or support be awarded if the marriage was for less than 10 years and that, for marriages lasting from 10 to 20 years, the alimony not last over one-half the length of the marriage. The court may ignore this presumption if it appears unjust or inequitable. In addition, the court may award "transitional" support for a spouse's short-term needs and/or for assistance on reentry into the workforce. The factors for consideration set out in the statute are:

  1. The duration of the marriage
  2. The age of the spouses
  3. The standard of living established during the marriage
  4. The ability of each spouse to pay
  5. The employment history and employment potential of each spouse
  6. The income history and income potential of each spouse
  7. The education and training of each spouse
  8. The provisions for retirement and health insurance benefits for each spouse
  9. The tax consequences of the division of marital property, including the tax consequences of the sale of the marital home
  10. The health and disabilities of each spouse
  11. The tax consequences of an alimony award
  12. The contributions of either spouse as homemaker
  13. The contributions of either spouse to the education or earning potential to the other spouse
  14. Economic misconduct of either spouse resulting in the diminution of marital property or income
  15. The ability of the party seeking support to become self-supporting within a reasonable length of time
  16. The effect of income from marital or non-marital property or child support payments on either spouse's need for or ability to pay spousal support
  17. Any other factors the court considers appropriate
[Maine Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 19-A, Sections 851 and 951-A].

Spouse's Name After Divorce
During or after a divorce or annulment, and upon request, a spouse may have their name changed.
[Maine Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 19-A, Section 1051].

Child Custody After Divorce
Based on the best interests of the child, 3 types of custody may be awarded:

  1. Responsibilities for the child's welfare are divided, either exclusively or proportionately. The responsibilities to be divided are: primary physical residence, parent-child contact, support, education, medical and dental care, religious upbringing, travel boundaries and expenses, and any other aspects. A parent awarded responsibility for any aspect may be required to inform the other parent of any major changes
  2. Parental responsibilities are shared
    [most or all of the responsibilities are made on the basis of joint decisions and the parents retain equal parental rights and responsibilities
  3. 1 parent is granted full and exclusive rights and responsibility for the child's welfare, except for the responsibility of child support
The factors to be considered are
  1. The age of the child
  2. The motivation of the parents and their capacities to give the child love, affection, and guidance
  3. The preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity
  4. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity
  5. The desire and ability of each parent to allow an open and loving frequent relationship between the child and the other parent
  6. The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community
  7. The relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and other significant family members
  8. The stability of the home environment likely to be offered by each parent
  9. A need to promote continuity and stability in the life of the child
  10. The parent's capacity and willingness to cooperate
  11. Methods for dispute resolution
  12. The effect on the child of 1 parent having sole authority over his or her upbringing
  13. The existence of any domestic violence or child abuse
  14. Any history of child abuse by a parent
  15. Any misuse of "protection from abuse" orders to gain a tactical advantage in the case
  16. Whether the child, if under age 1, is being breastfed
  17. Any other factors having a reasonable bearing on the child's upbringing
No preference is to be given because of a parent's sex or because of the child's age or sex. In any child custody case, the court may order an investigation of the parents and child by the Department of Human Services.
[Maine Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 19-A, Sections 1501 and 1653].

Child Support After Divorce
Either or both parents may be ordered to pay child support, regardless of any marital fault. An order for support may require that a parent be responsible for an insurance policy covering the child's medical, hospital, and other health care expenses. There are official Child Support Guidelines contained in the statute. These guidelines are presumed to be correct unless there is a showing that the amount would be unjust, inappropriate, or not in the best interests of the child under the particular circumstances in a case. There are also official child support guideline forms in use. Deviation from the guidelines is allowed under the following circumstances:

  1. The non-primary residential caretaker is providing residential care over 30% of the time
  2. The number of children requiring support is over 6
  3. Child support, spousal support, and property division is being decided at the same time
  4. The financial resources of the child
  5. The financial resources and needs of each parent, including any nonrecurring income not included in the definition of gross income
  6. The standard of living the child would have had if the marriage had continued
  7. The physical and emotional condition of the child
  8. The educational needs of the child
  9. Inflation in relation to the cost of living
  10. Income and financial contributions of a spouse of each parent
  11. Other dependents of the parent required to pay support
  12. The tax consequences of a support award
  13. Any non-income-producing assets of over $10,000.00 owned by either parent
  14. Whether any of the children are over 12 years old
  15. The cost of transportation of any child
[Maine Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 19-A, Sections 2001 to 2009].

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