Maine Divorce Basics

Learn the basics of a divorce, or dissolution of marriage, in Maine.

This article explains how to get a divorce in Maine.

Grounds for Divorce

You may file for divorce if you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences, meaning there is no hope for reconciliation or repair of the marriage. This is considered a no-fault divorce. Alternatively, you may file for divorce based on fault if you can prove your spouse was guilty of adultery, cruelty, drug or alcohol abuse, or neglect.

Residency Requirement and Waiting Period

You may file for divorce in Maine if one of the following applies:

  • you have lived in the state for at least six months
  • you live in the state and were married in the state
  • you live in the state and both parties lived in the state when the cause for divorce occurred, or
  • your spouse is a resident of the state.

The court will wait at least sixty days after the divorce complaint is filed to enter a judgment for divorce.        

Property Division in Maine

Maine uses a system of equitable distribution to divide marital property and debts between spouses. Marital property includes any property or income that was acquired by you or your spouse during the marriage.    Equitable distributions means that the court may award all or any part of the marital estate to either spouse based on what is fair and equitable. The judge may consider the length of the marriage, each spouse's contributions to the marriage, economic circumstances, and the value of the marital property. Property acquired by either spouse before marriage or after separation will remain the property of the acquiring spouse.  

To learn more, see our article on Dividing Property in a Maine Divorce.

Alimony

Maine courts may order one spouse to pay general or transitional spousal support to a spouse who is in financial need. Courts don’t usually award general support if the marriage lasted less than ten years. A judge may award transitional support temporarily if one spouse is reentering the work force or relocating after the divorce. To determine whether to make a spousal support order the judge will consider factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse's ability to pay support, earning potential, age, health, and the standard of living during the marriage. The court's goal is that both spouses will be self-supporting within a reasonable amount of time.

For more detail, see Maine Alimony Laws.

Child Support

Maine determines child support based on the combined incomes of both parents and is generally paid by the noncustodial parent to the primary custodial parent. A child support order continues until the child graduates high school or turns 19, whichever happens first. The court may also order one parent to pay health insurance, medical expenses, and child care costs for the child. You can  estimate  how much you may be obligated to pay.    Support orders usually cannot be modified unless one or both parents' financial situation changes. The  Maine Division of Support Enforcement & Recovery  ensures that child support obligations are met.      

Child Custody

If the parents cannot agree on a custody and visitation schedule for their child, the judge will make orders based on what is in the child's best interest. Custody orders are made without taking the parents' age or sex into consideration, and the court may order joint custody to both parents or sole custody to one parent. Before making an order, the judge will consider the child's age and relationship with each parent, the child's past, current, and future living arrangements, and the child's adjustment to home, school, and community. The judge may also consider the parents' ability to provide the children with mental, physical, and emotional support. Once an order is in place, it can only be modified if both parents agree or if there is a significant change in circumstances.

Learn more about Child Custody Laws in Maine.

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