Divorce in Maine: everything you need to know
From filing and records to costs and more, this guide will take you through divorce in Maine and help you make informed decisions.
There are two types of divorce in Maine – fault-based and no-fault.
The median cost of divorce in the US is $7,000, but this can fluctuate massively depending on your unique circumstances.
Maine has a mandatory waiting period of either 30 or 60 days between filing divorce paperwork and the final hearing, depending on the divorce type.
A financial advisor can help you navigate your finances during a divorce and rebuild afterward.
What are the different types of divorce in Maine?
Maine recognizes two types of divorce: no-fault and fault-based.
A no-fault divorce means that you do not have to prove that your spouse did something wrong to end the marriage.
You must show that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences, which means that your marriage is broken beyond repair and cannot be fixed.
A no-fault divorce can be faster and easier than a fault-based divorce, but it can also be more expensive and complicated if you and your spouse do not agree on the issues of the divorce.
A fault-based divorce means that you have to prove that your spouse committed a specific ground for divorce, such as adultery, abuse, desertion, or addiction.
A fault-based divorce can be cheaper and quicker than a no-fault divorce, but it can also be more contentious and stressful.
You have to provide evidence of your spouse’s misconduct, which may involve witnesses, documents, or private investigators. Your spouse can also contest the allegations and try to prove their innocence.
How much does a divorce cost in Maine?
According to DivorceWriter.com, the average cost of a divorce in Maine is $11,400, which includes $8,400 in attorney fees and $3,000 in court costs and other expenses.
However, this is just an estimate, and your actual cost may vary depending on your situation.
Some ways to reduce the cost of a divorce in Maine are:
Filing for an uncontested divorce: You and your spouse agree on all the issues and do not need a trial.
Using mediation or arbitration: Alternative dispute resolution methods that can help you and your spouse reach a settlement without going to court.
Representing yourself in court: If you have a simple case and are comfortable with the legal process, you can represent yourself. However, this is not recommended if you have complex issues or need legal advice.
Shopping around for a lawyer: Lawyers can charge different rates depending on their experience, reputation, and location. You can also ask for a flat fee or a limited scope representation, which means the lawyer only handles certain aspects of your case.
How do you file for divorce in Maine?
To file for divorce in Maine, you have to meet the following requirements:
You or your spouse must be a resident of Maine for at least six months before filing.
You must file in the county where you or your spouse live or where you last lived together as a married couple.
You must pay a filing fee, which varies by county but is usually around $120.
The steps to file for divorce in Maine are:
Fill out the divorce complaint: This is the document that initiates the divorce process. You can find the forms online or at the county clerk’s office. You have to provide information such as your name, address, date of marriage, date of separation, grounds for divorce, and whether you have children or property to divide.
Serve the divorce complaint on your spouse: You must deliver a copy of the document to them personally or by certified mail. You have to provide proof of service to the court, such as a receipt or an affidavit.
Wait for your spouse’s response: They have to file within 20 days of receiving the divorce complaint. They can either agree or disagree with the terms of the divorce or request a delay or a dismissal of the case.
Negotiate a settlement: Here, you will reach an agreement with your spouse on the issues of the divorce, such as child custody, child support, alimony, and property division. You can do this on your own, with the help of a lawyer, or through mediation or arbitration. You have to submit a written settlement agreement to the court for approval.
Finalize the divorce: This means obtaining a judgment of divorce from the court. This can happen either by default if your spouse does not respond or participate in the process or by consent if you and your spouse agree on everything. You have to wait at least 60 days after filing for a no-fault divorce or at least 30 days after filing for a fault-based divorce before the divorce is final.
How do you split assets in a divorce in Maine?
Maine is not a community property state, which means that your assets and debts are not automatically split 50/50 between you and your spouse.
Instead, Maine follows the equitable distribution system, which means that your assets and debts are divided according to what is fair and equitable, considering the circumstances of your case.
This includes assets and debts that you acquired before, during, or after the marriage unless a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement excludes them.
To split your assets and debts in a divorce, you and your spouse have to identify and value all the items that belong to the marital estate, which is the total net worth of your marriage. Then, you have to either agree on how to divide them or let the court decide for you.
How does alimony work in Maine?
Alimony is not guaranteed in Maine, and it depends on the financial needs and abilities of each spouse, as well as the length and fault of the marriage.
There are three types of alimony in Maine: general, transitional, and reimbursement.
General alimony is a long-term or permanent payment that one spouse makes to the other to provide them with financial support and prevent them from becoming destitute.
General alimony can be awarded only if the requesting spouse lacks sufficient income, property, or both to provide for their reasonable needs and is unable to support themselves through appropriate employment.
General alimony can be modified or terminated by the court if there is a change in circumstances, such as remarriage, cohabitation, death, or retirement.
Transitional alimony is a short-term or temporary payment that one spouse makes to the other to help them adjust to the economic consequences of the divorce.
Transitional alimony can be awarded for a period of time not exceeding two years, and it cannot be modified or extended by the court.
Reimbursement alimony is a one-time or periodic payment that one spouse makes to the other to compensate them for their contribution to the education, training, or increased earning capacity of the other spouse.
Reimbursement alimony can be awarded for a period of time not exceeding 10 years, and it cannot be modified by the court.
What happens to children during a divorce in Maine?
Child custody refers to the legal rights and responsibilities of each parent regarding the care, control, and upbringing of their children.
There are two types of child custody in Maine: parental rights and responsibilities and primary residence.
Parental rights and responsibilities refer to who makes major decisions for the children, such as education, health, religion, and extracurricular activities.
Primary residence refers to where the children live and who provides their daily care. The parents can either agree on a custody arrangement that suits their children’s needs and preferences or let the court decide for them.
The court will consider factors such as:
The safety and well-being of the child
The relationship of the child with the parents and other significant people
The preference of the child, if old enough to express it
The stability and continuity of the child’s living situation
The ability and willingness of the parents to communicate and cooperate
The adjustment of the child to the home, school, and community
The existence of domestic violence or abuse
Child support is a payment that one parent makes to the other to help cover the costs of raising their children, such as food, clothing, housing, education, health care, and recreation.
Child support is based on the income and expenses of both parents, as well as the number and needs of the children. The court will determine the amount if the parents cannot reach an agreement.
How to protect your finances when going through a divorce in Maine
Going through a divorce can be a stressful and challenging time, especially when it comes to finances.
You may have many questions and concerns about how to protect your assets, manage your debts, and plan for your future.
Here are some ways you can protect your money when going through a divorce:
Organize your finances: Before filing for divorce, gather all relevant financial information and documents, such as tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, and retirement accounts. Make a list of all assets and liabilities, both marital and non-marital. This will help you and your spouse negotiate a fair distribution of property and debts.
Consider mediation: Mediation is a process where you and your spouse work with a neutral third party to resolve issues related to your divorce, such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. Mediation can be less time-consuming, less expensive, and less stressful than going to court. It can also help you maintain a cooperative relationship with your spouse after the divorce.
Think about Social Security: If you have been married for at least 10 years, you may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record. This can provide valuable income during retirement, especially if your ex-spouse earned more than you. However, certain criteria must be met to qualify for this benefit.
Seek professional help: Divorce can significantly impact your financial situation. Consider consulting with a financial advisor specializing in divorce to help you navigate these changes and plan for your future.
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