Maine Divorce Law

Divorce – State Law Summary – Maine

Notes: This summary is not intended to be an all-inclusive summary of the laws of divorce in the State of Maine, but does contain basic and other procedures.

Grounds for Divorce
A divorce may be granted in the State of Maine based upon the following grounds:

1. Adultery
2. Impotence
3. Extreme cruelty
4. Utter desertion for a period of three consecutive years immediately prior to the commencement of the action
5. Nonsupport
6. Cruel and abusive treatment
7. Mental illness and confinement to a mental institution for a period of seven years.
8. Irreconcilable differences.  Irreconcilable differences is the no-fault grounds for divorce in the State of Maine.  MRSA 19A-902

Residency Requirements
Maine requires that at least one of the parties to the action for divorce be a resident of the state or, the plaintiff must have in good faith resided in Maine for a period of at least six months prior to the filing of the complaint.   MRSA 19A-901

Name of court and title of action/parties
An action for divorce filed in the State of Maine is filed in the District Court. The title of the action initiating the divorce is a Complaint for Divorce, while the title of the action granting the divorce is referred to as the Judgment of Divorce. The party who is filing the action for divorce is called the Plaintiff, while the other spouse is referred to as the Defendant. MRSA 19A-902

Legal Separation
A judgment of legal separation may be granted upon the petition of one of the parties to a marriage, or upon a joint petition filed by both spouses when the party or parties live or desire to live separate and apart from their spouse for a period of at least sixty consecutive days.  MRSA 19A-851

There are several types of alimony that may be awarded in Maine. Among them are:

General support- General support may be awarded to provide financial assistance to a spouse who has substantially less income than the other spouse so that both spouses may maintain a reasonable standard of living after the divorce.  There is a rebuttable presumption that general support may not be awarded if the spouses were married for less than ten years as of the date of filing for divorce.

Transitional support- Transitional support is typically awarded to provide for a spouse’s transitional needs, such as the short-term needs resulting from financial setbacks resulting from the divorce or for re-entry into the work force.

Reimbursement support- Reimbursement support is awarded to achieve an equitable result in the dissolution of the parties’ financial relationship.

Nominal support- Nominal support is awarded to preserve the court’s authority to grant support in the future.

Interim support- Interim support may be awarded to provide for a spouse’s separate needs pending the action for divorce.

Some of the factors the court will consider in determining an award of support include:

1. The length of the marriage
2. The ability of each party to pay
3. The age of each party
4. The employment history of each spouse
5. The income history and income potential of each spouse
6. The education and training of each spouse
7. Any other factor the court considers appropriate.

The court may order that a support award be paid in either lump sum or in installments, and an award of support will terminate upon the death of either the payor or payee spouse unless provided for otherwise in the judgment of divorce.  MRSA 19A-951

Distribution of Property
The State of Maine is an equitable distribution state. In the absence of a valid property settlement agreement, upon entry of the final decree of divorce the court shall set aside to each spouse that party’s separate property and distribute all other property between the parties in a manner that the court determines is equitable, just and reasonable after considering the following factors:

1. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker.
2. The value of the property set aside to each spouse.
3. The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to take effect.  MRSA 19A-953

Child Custody
The court shall determine custody of minor children of the marriage based upon the best interests of the child. Some of the factors used to determine the best interests of the child include:

1. The age of the child
2. The relationship of the child with the child’s parents and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s welfare
3. The preference of the child, if old enough to express one
4. The duration and adequacy of the child’s current living arrangements and the desirability of maintaining continuity
5. The stability of any proposed living arrangement
6. The motivation of the parties involved and their capacity to give the child love, affection and guidance
7. The child’s adjustment to the present home, school and community
8. The capacity of each parent to allow and encourage frequent and continuing contact between the child and other parent
9. The capacity of each parent to cooperate of to learn to cooperate in child care
10. Any other relevant factor.

The court shall not apply a preference for one parent over the other based upon gender or age of the parties. In any custody proceeding, the court may order each parent to submit a parenting plan detailing each parent’s proposals regarding issues such as the child’s residence, support, visitation, education and medical and dental care, among others.  MRSA 19A-1501

If the divorce action is contested, the court shall require the parties to attend parenting classes. In addition, if one spouse denies that there are irreconcilable differences in the marriage, the court may require that both parties receive counseling. Furthermore, the court on its own motion may order mediation at any time.  MRSA 19A-251, 902

Child Support
The State of Maine has established child support guidelines which establish a presumptively correct amount of child support to be paid. The court may deviate form these guidelines upon a finding that the application of the guidelines would result in an inequitable or unjust result. Some of the criteria that the court may use to justify a deviation form the child support guidelines include:

1. The non-primary parent is in fact providing residential care for the child for more than 30% of the time on an annual basis
2. The number of children for whom support is due is greater than six
3. The interrelationship between the child support award, the division of property, and alimony
4. The financial resources of each child
5. The financial resources and needs of each party
6. The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the relationship continued
7. The physical and emotional needs of each child
8. The educational needs of each child
9. Inflation
10. Available income

Any proposed agreement which deviates from the guidelines must be reviewed by the court to determine whether the proposal is in substantial compliance with the guidelines and whether it is justified and appropriate. MRSA 19A-2001-2009

Name Change
Upon request of either spouse, the court may change that person’s name to a former name or any other name requested.  MRSA 19A-1051

Inside Maine Divorce Law