Divorce is a legal process that dissolves a marriage union. Any legal duties, disposition of children, assets, debts and other responsibilities are settled.
Divorce is difficult emotionally and legally. It is possible to represent yourself in a divorce, but a divorce lawyer is invaluable in navigating through this stressful time.
If your marriage is not working and you need a legal remedy, you can get an annulment, which voids the marriage contract, or you can file for separation or file for divorce.
Eligibility to File in Maine
In order to file for divorce in Maine, the person seeking the divorce must have resided in state for the six months prior to filing, the parties must have been married in state, the plaintiff is a resident of Maine and was when the cause for divorce occurred, or the defendant is a resident of the state.
Divorce begins with the filling out and filing of divorce papers in court. You must pay the clerk $5 for the summons, and the rest of the paperwork is free. Filing fees are $120, and mediation costs are $80 per party. These fees may be waived if appropriate after filing the fee waiver form.
A financial affidavit—a written disclosure of personal financial details—will be requested and received by both parties. Custody and a parenting plan should be agreed upon. Custody is usually shared. An attempt at mediation will be made, and, should it fail, the status conference and interim divorce hearing will follow along with another chance at mediation and follow-up status conference. At last, the final hearing is held where the judge makes the final order. You have 21 days afterward for an appeal.
Note: Maine’s cooling off period is 60 days after the complaint is served.
Grounds for Divorce
Maine law provides for nine types of divorce grounds. Most often the grounds are irreconcilable differences or no-fault. Divorce based on grounds like cruelty requires the burden of proof and is best filed with legal representation in place.
Orders Pending Divorce
You may file Pendente Lite orders prior to the divorce. The court may:
- Order payment of attorney’s fees
- Provide for spousal support
- Enter order regarding parental rights and responsibilities
- Order to enforce prior orders
- Determine possession of the real and personal property
- Order the prohibition of restraint on a moving spouse
These are some temporary court orders that may come up during divorce that require a court’s enforcement as well.
The Divorce Agreement
The divorce agreement is complex and will address the disposition of property acquired after the marriage, not including gifts, bequests or property excluded by prior valid legal agreement. Alimony will be decided and awarded. A parenting plan will be filed, along with custody agreement and parental rights and responsibilities. Child support may be awarded at this time. The divorce agreement will be signed by the judge and become law. In contested divorces, the legal process is lengthy and expensive, and may result in the judge deciding important matters. Name changes may be noted upon entering of judgment.
After the Divorce
There are tax ramifications of divorce. How you file, meaning which party may file as head of household and have dependents as deductibles, should be decided. Filing separately will affect taxation rates and available deductions. Additionally, alimony is taxable to the receiver and deductible by the provider. Child support is not taxable to the receiving spouse. Divorce is not always cut and dry. You may need help enforcing or modifying court orders after the divorce.
Get Legal Representation
Divorce law is frequently changing and always complicated. It may be best to consult with a divorce attorney to be sure your best interests are fully represented.