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Maine Divorce Laws

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Maine Divorce Laws

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS AND WHERE TO FILE:

A person seeking a divorce may file a complaint for divorce in the District Court 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 this State and the parties were married in this State, (C) The plaintiff is a resident of this State and the parties resided in this State when the cause of divorce accrued; or (D) The defendant is a resident of this State.. [Based on Maine Revised Statutes - Title 19-A - Section 901]

LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:

A divorce may be granted for one of the following causes:

  • Irreconcilable marital differences.
  • Adultery.
  • Impotence.
  • 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.
  • Mental illness requiring confinement in a mental institution for at least 7 consecutive years prior to the commencement of the action.

[Based on Maine Revised Statutes - Title 19-A - Section 902]

LEGAL SEPARATION:

The District Court has jurisdiction to enter a separation decree: (A.) 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 (B.) 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. [Based on Maine Revised Statutes - Title 19-A - Section 851]

SPECIAL DIVORCE PROCEDURES:

Whenever in a divorce action the custody of a minor child is involved, the court may request the department to investigate conditions and circumstances of the child and the child's parents. [Based on Maine Revised Statutes - Title 19-A - Section 905]

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. [Based on Maine Revised Statutes - Title 19-A - Section 953]

PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION:

Maine is an equitable distribution state and shall divide the marital property in proportions the court considers just after considering all relevant factors, 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 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 before 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.
  • The increase in value of property acquired prior to the marriage and the increase in value of a spouse's non-marital property.

[Based on Maine Revised Statutes - Title 19-A - Section 953]

ALIMONY/MAINTENANCE/SPOUSAL SUPPORT:

The court may, after consideration of all factors set forth in subsection 5, 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
    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.

The court shall consider 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. [Based on Maine Revised Statutes - Title 19-A - Section 951-A]

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