MAINE DIVORCE BASICS AND OVERVIEW
|This is an uncontested divorce reference guide to understanding divorce in Maine. Each state has its own requirements, laws, and documentation, so we decided to gather it all in one location to make it easy and quick for you to find the information you need before, during and after your divorce.|
- Time Frame: The divorce hearing cannot take place until at least 60 days after the defendant receives the Complaint for divorce..
- Where to File: District Court or Superior Court. "State of Maine, ____________ Court, ____________County."
- State Statutes: Maine Revised Statutes Annotated, Title 19-A.
- Name of Action: Complaint for Divorce.
- Name of Parties: Plaintiff, the filing spouse, and defendant, the non-filing party.
- No-Fault or Fault and No-Fault Only: No fault and general grounds permitted.
- Primary Documents Filed: Complaint for Divorce and Decree of Divorce.
- Physical Separation Required: No.
- Separation Time to File: None.
- Legal Separation Permitted: Legal separation is permitted when the parties are living or want to live apart with just cause. They must live apart for more than 60 days.
- Grounds: No-Fault, which means irreconcilable marital differences; and Fault, which includes adultery; impotence; extreme cruelty; desertion continued for 3 consecutive years prior; abuse of liquor or drugs; cruelty or Neglect; cruel and abusive treatment; and mental illness.
- Residency Requirement: A person seeking a divorce may file a Complaint for Divorce in the District Court if: 1) The plaintiff has resided in good faith in the state of Maine for six months prior to the commencement of the action; 2) the plaintiff is a resident of the state of Maine and the parties were married in Maine; 3) the plaintiff is a resident of the state of Maine and the parties resided in Maine when the cause of divorce accrued; or 4) the defendant is a resident of the state of Maine. The divorce may be filed in either county in which the parties reside.
- Mediation Required: In Maine, mediation is mandatory if the divorce action is contested (especially if child related issues are being disputed). In addition, the court may order mediation at any time.
- Counseling Required: When one spouse denies that the marriage has failed, the court may continue the case and require both spouses to receive counseling by a qualified professional counselor who writes a report of the counseling sessions to the court and to both parties. The failure or refusal of the party who denies irreconcilable marital differences to submit to counseling without good reason is prima facie evidence that the marital differences are irreconcilable.
- Parenting Classes Required: At the court's discretion, parents may be required to attend one of a number of divorce parenting classes. These classes help educate the parents on best behavior and decision making regarding the children during and post divorce.
- Filing Fee: $120. (See ME Filing Fee Waiver Form)
- Where to File for Child Support: The Maine Division of Support Enforcement and Recovery is the state-run child support enforcement office for Maine. They help manage and collect past due child support.
- Child Support Guidelines Model: Maine uses the Income Shares Model.
Based on Maine Revised Statutes 19-A section 2006: Support Guidelines, the court calculates child support by determining the annual gross income of both parents, which is then applied to the child support table to determine the basic support entitlement. The court divides the total support award, which includes childcare, insurance and extraordinary medical expenses, proportionally to their respective incomes of the parents. The noncustodial parent pays his or her share of the total support to the custodial parent because the custodial parent pays his or her share directly on the child as living expenses. In awarding support, the court considers special circumstances -- such when the noncustodial parent has other children to support, or both parents have a combined income of more than $400,000, or the non-custodial parent is impoverished, or the both parents provide equal care. The court deviates when the support award determined by the support guidelines is “inequitable or unjust.” If the parents can agree upon a support amount that is reasonable and satisfactory to the court, then often times the judge will accept the agreed upon amount and order that as the monthly support obligation.
- Property Division: Maine is an equitable distribution state, using the dual classification regime.
- Appreciation of Separate Property: The appreciation of separate property is separate.
- Attendance at Hearing: Yes. The court requires a short hearing to finalize a divorce.
- Fault Considered in Property Division: No.
- Waiting period after Divorce for Remarriage: None.
- Ways to Serve Spouse: Anyone over 18 who is not a party to the case may serve papers in the state of Maine. Service may be personal, by mail, or by publication.
- Divorce Records: The Maine Vital Records Office
In the state of Maine one can request a copy of a certified or non-certified copy of a Divorce Certificate from the Vital Records Office. The requestor must have a legitimate reason or purpose for the request due to the private nature of the document. The Divorce Certificate will not provide details in regards to the divorce settlement. If this is desired, one would have to obtain a copy of the Judgment of Divorce from the County Clerk at the courthouse where the divorce was filed and finalized. The Vital Records Office is located at 220 Capitol Street, SHS #11, Augusta, Maine 04333-0011.