State Of Maine Divorce Laws and Resources
U.S. Divorce Laws are enacted by each state using their respective legislative process. Once legislation is enacted into law, the divorce courts in Maine have the authority to manage the divorce proceedings, including, spousal and child support payments, custodial rights of parents and the division of community property.
Since state laws are repealed and amended frequently, it is always advisable to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before making any important decisions about your marriage. You can also visit the GotTrouble Divorce Resource for a more in-depth understanding of related divorce and family law topics.
As of 2016, all states allow for “no fault” divorce. Yet many courts still factor in the respective parties past behavior when determining the division of community property, debts, custody, support and related issues.
SAME-SEX DIVORCE UPDATE:
On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is a right protected by the US Constitution in all 50 states. It follows, therefore, that the rights and obligations between same-sex divorcing parties are subject to the same dissolution laws of that state. Reference: US Supreme Court Opinion: Obergefell v. Hodges. (For more information visit ProCon.org).
RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS AND WHERE TO FILE:
A person may file for divorce in Maine if:
(A) The plaintiff has resided in good faith in this State for 6 months prior to the commencement of the action,
(B) The plaintiff is a resident of Maine and the parties were married in this State,
(C) The plaintiff is a resident of Maine and the parties resided in this State when the cause of divorce accrued; or
(D) The defendant is a resident of Maine.
LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:
A divorce may be granted for one of the following causes:
- Irreconcilable marital differences;
- Extreme cruelty;
- Utter desertion continued for 3 consecutive years prior to the commencement of the action;
- Gross and confirmed habits of intoxication from the use of liquor or drugs;
- Nonsupport, when one spouse has sufficient ability to provide for the other spouse and grossly, wantonly or cruelly refuses or neglects to provide suitable maintenance for the complaining spouse;
- Cruel and abusive treatment; or
- Mental illness requiring confinement in a mental institution for at least 7 consecutive years prior to the commencement of the action.
Related Divorce Services And Resources
- Upon the petition of a married person who lives apart or who desires to live apart from that person’s spouse for a period in excess of 60 continuous days; or
- Upon joint petition of a married couple who live apart or who desire to live apart for a period in excess of 60 continuous days.
SPECIAL DIVORCE PROCEDURES:
When children are involved, the court may request the department to investigate conditions and circumstances of the child and the child’s parents.
MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS:
If one party alleges that there are irreconcilable marital differences and the opposing party denies that allegation, the court upon its own motion or upon motion of either party may continue the case and require both parties to receive counseling by a qualified professional counselor to be selected either by agreement of the parties or by the court.
PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION – NO FAULT
Maine is an equitable distribution state and shall divide the marital property in proportions the court determines relevant including:
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
- The value of the property set apart to each spouse; 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 reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of the children.
MARITAL PROPERTY DEFINED
“Marital property” means all property acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage, except:
- Property acquired by gift, bequest, devise or descent;
- Property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage or in exchange for property acquired by gift, bequest, devise or descent;
- Property acquired by a spouse after a decree of legal separation;
- Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties; and
- The increase in value of property acquired prior to the marriage and the increase in value of a spouse’s non-marital property.
The court may, after consideration of all staturory factors will award or modify spousal support for one or more of the following reasons.
- General support: There is a rebuttable presumption that general support may not be awarded if the parties were married for less than 10 years as of the date of the filing of the action for divorce. There is also a rebuttable presumption that general support may not be awarded for a term exceeding 1/2 the length of the marriage if the parties were married for at least 10 years but not more than 20 years as of the date of the filing of the action for divorce.
- Transitional support may be awarded to provide for a spouse’s transitional needs, including, but not limited to: (1) Short-term needs resulting from financial dislocations associated with the dissolution of the marriage; or (2) Reentry or advancement in the work force, including, but not limited to, physical or emotional rehabilitation services, vocational training and education.
- Reimbursement support may be awarded to achieve an equitable result in the overall dissolution of the parties’ financial relationship in response to exceptional circumstances. Exceptional circumstances include, but are not limited to: (1) Economic misconduct by a spouse; and (2) Substantial contributions a spouse made towards the educational or occupational advancement of the other spouse during the marriage.
- Nominal support may be awarded to preserve the court’s authority to grant spousal support in the future.
- Interim support may be awarded to provide for a spouse’s separate support during the pendency of an action for divorce or judicial separation.
SPOUSAL SUPPORT FACTORS COURT WILL CONSIDER
The court shall, but is not limited in considering, the following factors when determining an award of spousal support:
- The length of the marriage, the ability of each party to pay; the age of each party;
- The education, training, income and employment history and future potential of each party;
- The provisions for retirement and health insurance benefits of each party;
- The tax consequences of the division of marital property, including the tax consequences of the sale of the marital home and the award if spousal support, if applicable; the health and disabilities of each party; the contributions of either party as homemaker;
- The contributions of either party to the education or earning potential of the other party; economic misconduct by either party resulting in the diminution of marital property or income;
- The standard of living of the parties during the marriage; the ability of the party seeking support to become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time; and any other factors the court considers appropriate.
SPOUSE’S LEGAL NAME:
Upon the request of either spouse to change that person’s own name, the court, when entering judgment for divorce, shall change the name of that spouse to a former name requested; or to any other name requested.
CHILD CUSTODY – BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD
Either parent may be awarded custody. When the parents have agreed to an award of shared parental rights and responsibilities, the court shall make that award unless there is substantial evidence that it should not be ordered. The court, in making an award of parental rights and responsibilities with respect to a child, shall apply the standard of the best interest of the child. In making decisions regarding the child’s residence and parent-child contact, the court shall consider as primary the safety and well-being of the child. In applying this standard, the court shall consider the following factors:
- The age of the child;
- The relationship of the child with the child’s parents and any other persons who may significantly affect the child’s welfare;
- The preference of the child, if old enough to express a meaningful preference;
- The duration and adequacy of the child’s current living arrangements and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
- The stability of any proposed living arrangements for the child;
- The motivation of the parties involved and their capacities to give the child love, affection and guidance;
- The child’s adjustment to the child’s present home, school and community;
- The capacity of each parent to allow and encourage frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other parent, including physical access;
- The capacity of each parent to cooperate or to learn to cooperate in child care;
- Methods for assisting parental cooperation and resolving disputes and each parent’s willingness to use those methods;
- The effect on the child if one parent has sole authority over the child’s upbringing;
- The existence of domestic abuse between the parents, in the past or currently, and how that abuse affects the child emotionally, and the safety of the child;
- The existence of any history of child abuse by a parent;
- All other factors having a reasonable bearing on the physical and psychological well-being of the child;
Maine uses the Income Shares Model for determining child support. After the court or hearing officer determines the annual gross income of both parties, the 2 incomes must be added together to provide a combined annual gross income and applied to the child support table to determine the basic support entitlement for each child.
Termination of support: A court order requiring the payment of child support remains in force as to each child until the order is altered by the court or until that child:
(A) Attains 18 years of age. For orders issued after January 1, 2005, if the child attains 18 years of age while attending secondary school the order remains in force until the child graduates, withdraws or is expelled from secondary school or attains 19 years of age, whichever occurs first;
(B) Becomes married; or
(C) Becomes a member of the armed services.
NOTE: The court may require the payment of part or all of the medical expenses, hospital expenses and other health care expenses of the child. The court order must include a provision requiring at least one parent to obtain and maintain health insurance coverage for medical, hospitalization and dental expenses, if reasonable cost health insurance is available to that parent.
A premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. It is enforceable without consideration.
Parties to a premarital agreement may contract with respect to:
- The rights and obligations of each of the parties in any of the property of either or both of them whenever and wherever acquired or located;
- The right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of or otherwise manage and control property;
- The disposition of property upon separation, marital dissolution, death or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of any other event;
- The modification or elimination of spousal support;
- The making of a will, trust or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement;
- The ownership rights in and disposition of the death benefit from a life insurance policy;
- The choice of law governing the construction of the agreement; and
- Any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a law imposing a criminal penalty.
WHEN PREMARITAL AGREEMENTS ARE NOT ENFORCEABLE:
A premarital agreement is not enforceable if the party against whom enforcement is sought proves that: That party did not execute the agreement voluntarily; or that the agreement was unconscionable when it was executed and, before execution of the agreement, that party:
(1) Was not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party;
(2) Did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party beyond the disclosure provided; and
(3) Did not have, or reasonably could not have had, an adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party. A premarital agreement becomes effective upon the marriage of the parties. The right of a child to receive support may not be adversely affected by a premarital agreement.
ENFORCING CHILD SUPPORT ORDERS – FEDERAL OPTION:
Learn about the Federal Office of Child Support and Enforcement:
FIND LOCAL FEDERAL ENFORCEMENT AGENCY NEAR YOU