Maine Divorce Laws and Resources

Are you thinking about getting divorced in Maine? Make sure you are prepared for the process by understanding the laws regarding divorce and what you are entitled to. You can look up the relevant laws below, as well as state guidelines and calculators to help you estimate the child support you may receive. There is a discussion on the steps of divorce to help you understand how the process works. In addition, you can find do-it-yourself divorce forms and information to help you locate a divorce lawyer if needed. You will also find other state specific resources, products and support services.

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Steps of Divorce

By WomansDivorce

If you are considering a divorce in Maine, the following information can help you understand the various steps your divorce will proceed through, especially if your will be filing your own papers.

1.  Complete the Initial Divorce Papers

  • Complaint for Divorce form. 
    This is the document which states you are the plaintiff seeking a divorce. You spouse is considered the defendant. The Complaint for Divorce outlines the particulars of your case and everything you are requesting in the divorce. This form must be signed in front of a notary
  • Child Support Affidavit.
    If there are minor children of the marriage, you will need to complete the child support affidavit, using last year's income and this year's expected income. The form requires a notarized signature. Your spouse will fill out the form with his or her information after the summons is served.
  • Family Matter Summons & Preliminary Injunction.
    This is the form you get from the county clerk which has the clerk's signature and the official seal. You will need to date and sign this form.
  • SSN Disclosure Form.
    The information on this form is kept confidential, but must be included in the original paperwork. It includes your social security number and that of your children.

2. Serve the Divorce Papers

Your spouse must be notified that a divorce action has been started. This may done through one of three ways:

  • Service by the Sheriff
  • Personal Delivery by hand or through the mail. Make sure you include 2 copies of the "Acknowledgment of Receipt of Summons and Complaint" for your spouse to sign and return within 20 days.
  • Service by Certified Mail. If your spouse is unable to be served using the two methods above, you can send the Complaint and Summons through certified mail. Be sure to request for "Restricted Delivery" to make sure it's only delivered to your spouse and "Return Receipt" to make sure you have proof that everything was delivered.

3. File Your Forms with the Court

In addition to the initial forms, you will also need to include a Family Matter Summary Sheet and proof of service on your spouse. You will need to pay the filing fee at this time to file the papers with the court.

4. Scheduling Order

Once your spouse responds to the initial Complaint, the court will send you a Scheduling order which gives deadlines for how your case will proceed. This may include dates for mediation and case management conferences, as well as deadlines for filing any requested documents.

  • If your spouse doesn't respond to the divorce complaint, your case will be scheduled for an uncontested hearing, which will occur at least 60 days after the divorce complaint was served.
  • If the two of you mutually agree on everything in the divorce complaint, you can request to be scheduled for an uncontested hearing.

5. Pre-trial or Case Management Conference

The court will schedule a pretrial conference for cases without minor children or a case management conference for cases involving minor children. This helps to establish how many issues are being disputed and how long it will take to hear your case. 

If you and your spouse are in complete agreement on all the issues to be determined in your divorce, the judge may conduct a final uncontested divorce hearing at that time and approve your divorce agreement.

6. Mediation in contested divorces

You and your spouse will need to go to mediation if you both can't mutually agree to everything in the divorce complaint. If the first mediation session doesn't resolve all the issues, you can agree to another session or go to a court hearing.

7. Court Hearing

If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement through mediation and personal conferences, your case will go to trial and be heard by a judge, who will then decide the terms of your divorce.

Do It Yourself Divorce Solutions

Separation Forms - A separation agreement can act as a plan for how everything will be handled while you and your husband are living apart, including custody and support issues, property division, and more. This service will allow you to prepare your separation agreement online and download onto your computer. 

Online Divorce - Avoid huge legal bills. This do it yourself divorce package makes filing your own divorce a lot easier than filing out the standard court forms. The step-by-step approach takes the difficulty out of completing your own divorce papers, and your documents will be ready for signing and filing at the court house. 

Help for Domestic Violence

Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence

Maine Divorce Laws

Complete Online Domestic Relations Statutes - Maine Revised Statutes

Divorce Residency Requirements - To meet the residency requirements for Maine, 1) at least one party must be a resident of Maine for at least 6 months, 2) the plaintiff is a resident and the couple was married in the state, or 3) the plaintiff is a resident and the cause of divorce occurred while the couple was residing in the state. (19-A §901)

Recognized Grounds for Divorce - A no-fault divorce can be filed on the grounds of irreconcilable marital differences. Fault grounds may also be claimed, which include: adultery, extreme cruelty, impotency, desertion for over 3 years, addiction to liquor or drugs, refusal to provide suitable maintenance for the complaining spouse, one of the parties is an incapacitated person, and cruel and abusive treatment. (19-A §902)

Legal (Judicial) Separation - The District Court can enter a separation decree which covers all the same issues as a divorce, including parental rights and responsibilities, spousal support, and division of assets and debts. A couple is still married after an order of judicial separation and the order may be modified later on. The judicial separation order will be terminated when the couple divorces, but the portion of the separation decree which disposes of the parties' property will remain in full force. (19-A §851)

Dividing Assets and Debts - Premarital assets, inheritances, gifts, and property excluded by valid agreement are not considered to be included in the marital estate. All property acquired by either spouse during to the marriage and prior to a legal separation is considered marital property and subject to a division in a divorce or separation. When making a decision on how the marital estate will be distributed, the court will consider all relevant factors, including:

  • Each spouse's contribution to the acquisition of marital property, including a spouse's contribution as a homemaker;
  • The value of the property set apart to each spouse; and
  • The economic circumstances of each spouse, including whether it would be desirable to award the family home or the right to live in the home to a parent having custody of the children. (19-A §953)

Spousal Support - Different types and durations of spousal support may be awarded during a divorce depending on the circumstances of the case, including:

  • Interim support which is meant to provide support while an action for divorce or judicial separation is pending.
  • Transition support may be awarded to help with short-term needs resulting from the financial impact of the divorce or to help a spouse receive the training or education needed to become self-supporting.
  • General support is to intended to help maintain a reasonable standard of living for a spouse with substantially less income potential than the other spouse. General support may not be awarded in marriages that lasted less than 10 years, and will not exceed 1/2 the length of the marriage for marriages lasting between 10 and 20 years.
  • Reimbursement support can be awarded to reach an equitable dissolution of a couple's financial relationship in cases of exceptional circumstances such as the economic misconduct by a spouse or a spouse's contributions to the other spouse's occupational advances during the marriage.
  • Nominal support may be awarded to preserve the court's authority to grant spousal support in the future

Support ends upon the cohabitation of the supported spouse with another person for at least 12 months which is the functional equivalent of marriage. It will also end upon the death of either spouse unless stated otherwise in the spousal support order. (19-A §951-A)

Name change - In Maine, either spouse may request a provision be added to the divorce for a name change, allowing that party to resume a former name of any other name requested. (19-A §1051)

Child custody - The court can allocate custody as either shared parental rights and responsibilities or sole parental rights and responsibilities based on the best interest of the child, considering as primary the safety and well-being of the child. Such a determination outlines which parent will have primary residential care and the rights of parent-child contact to the other parent, or if primary residential care will be shared by both parents. (19-A §1653)

Child Support - Support obligations are determined using the official child support guidelines for Maine which consider the incomes of both parents and includes child care costs, extraordinary medical expenses and health insurance premiums. The support obligation may be modified due to a substantial change in circumstances which would result in a variance of more than 15% of the initial order. Child support ends when a child reaches the age of majority, joins the military, or gets married, but may continue past a child's 18th birthday if the child is attending secondary school by not past his or her 19th birthday.(19-A Chapter 63)

Premarital Agreements - A premarital agreement may address the rights and obligations or each party, the right to buy, sell, or use property, spousal support, death benefits of a life insurance policy, the making of a will, and any other matter not in violation of public policy. It should be noted that right of a child to receive support may not be adversely affected by a premarital agreement. To be enforceable, such an agreement must be in writing and signed freely by both parties with a reasonable disclosure of financial circumstances prior to its execution. After marriage, a premarital agreement may only be modified or revoked by a written agreement signed by the parties. (19-A Chapter 21)