Adultery & Divorce in Maine

By Beverly Bird

When your spouse strays, your first instinct might be to seek revenge. You might be able to accuse her of adultery in your divorce complaint and let the world know she ended your marriage. Maybe the judge will agree that she's a despicable character and award you additional marital property or give you custody of your children. If you live in Maine, you'd be half right. You can file for divorce on grounds of adultery in this state, but it probably won't affect issues of property division or custody.

When your spouse strays, your first instinct might be to seek revenge. You might be able to accuse her of adultery in your divorce complaint and let the world know she ended your marriage. Maybe the judge will agree that she's a despicable character and award you additional marital property or give you custody of your children. If you live in Maine, you'd be half right. You can file for divorce on grounds of adultery in this state, but it probably won't affect issues of property division or custody.

Fault Vs. No-Fault Grounds

Maine recognizes nine grounds for divorce. Adultery is one of the fault grounds, and irreconcilable differences is the no-fault grounds. Most Maine divorces use grounds of irreconcilable differences. If you do this, the court can give you a divorce without requiring you to prove your spouse did anything wrong. If your spouse disputes your marriage is over, however, the judge might order the two of you to attend counseling before granting you a divorce. If you and your spouse can reach an agreement on issues of custody, support and property, you can be divorced on the basis of irreconcilable differences in a relatively short period of time. If you have to go to trial to litigate grounds and other issues, your divorce could take more than a year.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Proving Adultery

If you file for divorce on grounds of adultery, you'll have to prove at the time of trial that adultery occurred. It's not sufficient to merely accuse your spouse. Generally, you need some sort of corroborating evidence, such as photographs, correspondence or eyewitness testimony. If a Maine judge doesn't believe you've met this burden of proof, he can deny you a divorce.

Defenses

If your spouse wants to contest your grounds, she can can present affirmative defenses at trial. In Maine, defenses against adultery include recrimination and condonation. If she alleges recrimination, she's accusing you of having an adulterous affair as well, which might absolve her of blame. If she accuses you of condonation, it means you forgave her for her transgression by continuing with the marital relationship after you found out about it. The judge won't take these defenses at face value; your spouse will have to prove them just as you have to prove your adultery grounds. If each of you is trying to prove the guilt of the other, the matter can drag out and become a lengthy divorce trial.

Effect on Divorce

If you're contemplating filing on grounds of adultery, confer with a divorce attorney to find out if there's any advantage for you. The Maine statutes do not allow judges to consider marital misconduct, such as adultery, when dividing property in a divorce. Custody decisions are based on the best interests of your children, and marital misconduct that doesn't affect them won't have any impact on a judge's custody decision either. If you can prove adultery, it might have an effect on alimony, but only if you can establish your spouse wasted assets on her paramour, for example, by buying him lavish gifts with marital money.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce for Adultery in New York?

References

Related articles

Tennessee Divorce Laws on Adultery

You don’t have to prove marital misconduct to receive a divorce in Tennessee; the state offers the no-fault ground of irreconcilable differences. However, its statutes require that you and your spouse live apart for two years before you qualify for a no-fault divorce. Fault grounds don’t share the same restriction, which can make them an attractive option if your spouse has done something to end the marriage, such as committing adultery.

The Disadvantages of Pleading No Contest to Adultery

In the context of divorce law, you can "plead no contest" by abstaining from defending yourself against the allegations contained in your spouse’s complaint or petition for divorce. You might do this at trial or in depositions by invoking your Fifth Amendment right against incriminating yourself, depending on your state’s laws. Generally, adultery would have to be a criminal offense in your jurisdiction for your Fifth Amendment right to apply. Alternatively, you might simply decide not to deny your spouse’s adultery grounds when you file an answer to her complaint. In either case, your decision not to challenge her grounds can have a negative effect on your divorce.

Does Adultery Justify Divorce?

Not only does infidelity lead to discord in a marriage, it often causes spouses to call it quits. If your spouse cheated on you and you're filing for divorce, you may want to list adultery as the reason your marriage came to an end. However, not all states give you this option. While all states permit spouses to file for divorce on no-fault grounds, meaning a spouse does not have to prove misconduct on the part of the other to get a divorce, only some states recognize adultery as grounds for divorce.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Adultery Divorce Laws

In 2010, New York became the last state in the country to adopt no-fault divorce. No matter where you live, you no ...

Divorce Based on Adultery in Illinois

If your spouse has strayed, you might have good reasons for wanting to file for divorce on grounds of adultery -- but ...

Adultery & Legal Rights

Adultery is considered a crime in some states, although spouses typically don't go to jail over it. If you or your ...

Does Committing Adultery Make Any Difference in Divorce Court in Pennsylvania?

Discovering that your spouse has been unfaithful is often the end to a marriage. In Pennsylvania, when a spouse files ...

Browse by category