Divorce Fault in Maine

by Elizabeth Rayne
In Maine you may divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable marital differences.

In Maine you may divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable marital differences.

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Maine residents may divorce without placing the blame on either spouse. But you may also file for divorce based on fault grounds, such as adultery or desertion if you have the evidence to back up your claims. The terms of the divorce, such as spousal support and child custody, will not be based on the grounds you assert; instead, the court will look at the spouses' behavior during the marriage and the financial resources of each.

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Grounds for Divorce

In Maine, couples may divorce on fault or no-fault grounds. Fault-based grounds place the blame for dissolving the marriage on one spouse, while no-fault divorce refers to irreconcilable marital differences. Fault-based grounds include adultery, extreme cruelty, abuse of drugs or alcohol, and desertion. Even where fault-based grounds exist, Maine residents may choose instead to file on the grounds of irreconcilable differences because the person alleging fault has the burden of proving the grounds exist. For example, if you file on the basis of adultery, you must provide witnesses or other evidence to prove that your spouse actually cheated on you.

Property Division

No matter what grounds you assert, courts in Maine follow equitable distribution guidelines for property division. The court will only divide the marital property, which includes most assets acquired during the marriage. Separate property, which includes any property acquired before the marriage and gifts and inheritances received during the marriage, remains with the spouse who acquired it. To determine how to fairly divide marital property, the court will consider the contributions each spouse has made to the marital property, as well as the potential financial resources of each spouse after the divorce. The court will not consider fault when dividing property.

Custody Determinations

Courts in Maine will make custody determinations based on what is in the best interests of the child. The custody determination provides where the child will live and also who will make decisions for the child. To determine what is in the child's best interests, the court considers the ability of each parent to take care of the child; the child's relationship with each parent and his community; the child's wishes; and other related factors. Although fault grounds for divorce may be unrelated to the custody determination, the court will likely consider any evidence of domestic violence or drug abuse when making the custody determination.

Spousal Support

Based on the financial needs and resources of each spouse, courts in Maine may award spousal support to one spouse. In most cases, they will not award general support if the marriage lasted less than 10 years. But the court may award transitional support for shorter or longer term marriages that provides short-term support to help a spouse transition to single life. Also, courts may award reimbursement support, which repays a spouse for payments made to the other spouse's education or training. To determine the amount of support, the court considers the financial resources of each spouse, the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, and other factors that demonstrate the income potential of each spouse. The court may also consider the economic misconduct of each spouse, such as evidence of gambling or excessive spending of marital assets.