Maine Divorce Law
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Divorce Residency Essentials to Get 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 six 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, Chapter 5, Section 155 and Title 19-A, Chapter 29, Section 901].
Reasons for Divorce in Maine
There are mainly two reasons of divorce in Maine those are fault and general. In order to file for divorce in Maine, the proper grounds must be established. Both spouses are involved in establishing these grounds, and both must substantiate and agree upon these, unless the divorcing spouse is trying to prove otherwise to the court.
No-fault reasons for divorce in Maine include:
- Irreconcilable marital differences. [Maine Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 19-A, Chapter 29, Section 902].
General reasons for divorce in Maine include, in the case of a covenant marriage:
- Alcoholism and/or drug addiction;
- Confinement for incurable insanity for seven consecutive years;
- Desertion for three years;
- Cruelty or abuse; and
- Nonsupport whereby a spouse is able to provide support but grossly, wantonly, or cruelly neglects to provide suitable maintenance for the complaining spouse. [Maine Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 19-A, Chapter 29, Section 902].
Custody of the Children in Maine
Based on the best interests of the child, three types of custody may be awarded:
- Responsibilities for the child’s welfare are divided, either exclusively or proportionately. The responsibilities to be divided are:
- primary physical residence,
- parent-child contact,
- 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;
- 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; or
- One 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:
- The age of the child;
- The motivation of the parents and their capacities to give the child love, affection, and guidance;
- The preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity;
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
- The desire and ability of each parent to allow an open and loving frequent relationship between the child and the other parent;
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
- The relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and other significant family members;
- The stability of the home environment likely to be offered by each parent;
- A need to promote continuity and stability in the life of the child;
- The parent’s capacity and willingness to cooperate;
- Methods for dispute resolution;
- The effect on the child of one parent having sole authority over his or her upbringing;
- The existence of any domestic violence or child abuse;
- Any history of child abuse by a parent;
- Any misuse of “protection from abuse” orders to gain a tactical advantage in the case;
- Whether the child, if under age one, is being breastfed; and
- 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, Chapter 51, Section 1501 and Chapter 55, Section 1653].
Property Distribution in Maine
Maine is an “equitable distribution” state. Each spouse retains his or her individual property, including:
- Any gifts or inheritances;
- Any property acquired prior to marriage; and
- Any increase in the value of or property acquired in exchange for property listed in the former or the latter event.
The marital property is divided between the spouses after considering the following factors:
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker;
- The value of each spouse’s property; and
- 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, Chapter 29, Section 953].
Maine Spousal Support Guidelines
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 or that a lump sum amount be awarded 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. 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:
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age of the spouses;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- The ability of each spouse to pay;
- The employment history and employment potential of each spouse;
- The income history and income potential of each spouse;
- The education and training of each spouse;
- The provisions for retirement and health insurance benefits for each spouse;
- The tax consequences of the division of marital property, including the tax consequences of the sale of the marital home;
- The health and disabilities of each spouse;
- The tax consequences of an alimony award;
- The contributions of either spouse as homemaker;
- The contributions of either spouse to the education or earning potential to the other spouse;
- Economic misconduct of either spouse resulting in the diminution of marital property or income;
- The ability of the party seeking support to become self-supporting within a reasonable length of time;
- 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; and
- Any other factors the court considers appropriate. [Maine Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 19-A, Chapter 27, Section 851 and Chapter 29, Section 951-A].
Maine Child Support Guidelines
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 and forms These guidelines are presumed to be correct. Deviation from the guidelines is allowed under the following circumstances:
- The non-primary residential caretaker is providing residential care over 30% of the time;
- The number of children requiring support is over six;
- Child support, spousal support, and property division is being decided at the same time;
- The financial resources of the child;
- The financial resources and needs of each parent, including any nonrecurring income not included in the definition of gross income;
- The standard of living the child would have had if the marriage had continued;
- The physical and emotional condition of the child;
- The educational needs of the child;
- Inflation in relation to the cost of living;
- Income and financial contributions of a spouse of each parent;
- Other dependents of the parent required to pay support;
- The tax consequences of a support award;
- Any non-income-producing assets of over $10,000.00 owned by either parent;
- Whether any of the children are over 12 years old; and
- The cost of transportation of any child. [Maine Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 19-A, Chapter 63, Sections 2001- 2009].
Mediation is mandatory in Maine if one 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, Chapter 29, Section 902 and Chapter 3, Section 251].