Divorce Laws in Maine

by Heather Frances Google
Divorce may be easier if you and your spouse can agree.

Divorce may be easier if you and your spouse can agree.

Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

Divorce laws vary between states, so your divorce in Maine may be different than if you filed for divorce in another state. Before you can file for divorce in Maine, you must be a resident of Maine for at least six months, and your divorce cannot be granted any sooner than 60 days after you file. You must also give the court reasons, or grounds, upon which to base your divorce. Maine recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds, and if you allege a fault ground, like adultery, you bear the burden of proof.

Property Division

When you divorce, the court will decide how to divide your property unless you and your spouse can reach agreement. Maine is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the court divides marital property — most property acquired during the marriage — fairly, though not necessarily equally, between the spouses. The court will base its decision on several factors including the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the property, the value of each spouse’s separate property, and the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time of the divorce.

Child Custody

If you have children, your divorce decree will determine your rights and responsibilities as a parent. The court’s goal when addressing child custody is to create an arrangement that is in the best interests of your child, considering factors such as the child’s age, relationship with each parent, and any history of child abuse. If you and your spouse cannot agree to custody arrangements and your case becomes contentious, you or the court may request a guardian ad litem, a neutral, court-appointed adult, to represent your child’s interests.

Child Support

Maine courts calculate child support by combining the annual gross income of both spouses as applied to a child support table to determine each child’s basic support entitlement. The calculation also considers child care costs, health insurance premiums and medical expenses. Typically, the court orders the noncustodial parent to pay child support to the custodial parent, and the court presumes the custodial parent pays his share through day-to-day provision for the child’s needs.

Spousal Support

Maine allows spousal support, or alimony, if appropriate, but spousal support is not based on a formula that applies in every case. Instead, the court must consider several factors, including the length of the marriage, ages of the spouses, employment history and income potential of each spouse, health of each spouse, and the contributions of either spouse as homemaker. Maine courts can award five types of spousal support: general, nominal, transitional, reimbursement or interim. General support provides sufficient assistance to allow both spouses to maintain a reasonable standard of living after the divorce when one spouse has substantially less income potential than the other. Nominal support is a small amount awarded primarily to preserve the court's authority to grant support in the future. Transitional support is intended to help the recipient spouse re-establish her household or obtain training to enter, re-enter or advance in the work force. Reimbursement support may be awarded if property distribution is unable to create an equitable result. Interim support is awarded before the divorce is final and provides support during the divorce process.