Divorces are often portrayed by the media as bitter and highly confrontational. Many couples, however, can reach agreement on their own regarding the fundamental issues, and Maine law provides a more streamlined divorce process in these instances. Understanding what paperwork is involved and when participation is required can help spouses that are on the same page obtain a final divorce decree faster and easier.
In order to file for divorce in Maine, the parties need to first meet the residency requirement. The law provides four ways to prove residency, which must be indicated on the divorce complaint. One method is that if the person filing the divorce action, known as the plaintiff, can show she resided in the state six months prior to filing. A second way requires a showing that the plaintiff is a resident of Maine and the parties were married in the state. Third, residency is met if the plaintiff is a resident of the state and the parties resided in Maine at the time the grounds for divorce took place. The final method requires showing that the defendant is a Maine resident.
Information Required in a Complaint
The process for obtaining an uncontested divorce in Maine begins with the filling out of a complaint for divorce. The complaint needs to include the names and addresses of the spouses and indicate the residency requirement is met. The petition must also indicate the grounds for divorce, which is most often the no-fault ground of irreconcilable marital differences. Additional information is required for parties with minor children and with regards to personal and real property. Finally, the plaintiff must indicate what he is requesting of the court. Although this can include decisions on custody, support and property division, the plaintiff would not request a court order on these matters if the parties agree.
Serving and Filing the Forms
Once the complaint for divorce has been completed, it must be served along with a summons on the other spouse. Service is a way of providing notice of the divorce action and is traditionally done personally with the assistance of a Sheriff or by certified mail. However, because parties to an uncontested divorce are generally interested in moving the process forward smoothly, the court allows service through postal mail or personal delivery by the plaintiff. After the papers are served, the plaintiff needs to file them with the court along with the receipt of service. A Family Matter Summary Sheet containing basic information about the parties needs to accompany the papers, as well as a Certificate in Lieu of Financial Statement and Certificate in Lieu of Case Management Conference. These certificates indicate to the court that the parties are in agreement on issues related to property distribution, support and child custody.
Scheduling and Attending the Hearing
When spouses are in agreement regarding the material terms of their divorce, the matter can proceed to an "uncontested hearing." The hearing will be scheduled at least 60 days following service of the divorce complaint on the defendant. Typically, both spouses attend the hearing unless both are represented by attorneys. In that case, only one spouse needs to attend the hearing. At that time, the judge will make a ruling and issue a divorce decree.