Where do I File for Divorce in Maine?
Divorcing spouses may file a complaint for divorce in the Maine Superior Court or in the Maine District Court. If you file in Superior Court, it should be in the county where either you or your spouse live. If you file in the District Court, it should be in the judicial district where either you or your spouse live.
What are the Residency Requirements to File for Divorce in Maine?
Either spouse may file for divorce in Maine if at least one of the following is true:
- the filing spouse has resided in Maine for at least six months before beginning the divorce action
- the filing spouse is a resident of Maine, and the parties were married in Maine
- the filing spouse is a resident of Maine, and the parties lived in Maine when the cause of divorce arose (e.g., adultery), or
- the non-filing spouse is a resident of Maine.
These requirements, known as the "residency" or "jurisdictional requirements" for a divorce in Maine, can be found in the Maine statutes at 19-A M.R.S.A. § 901.
What do I Need to Show the Court in Order to get a Divorce in Maine?
The proof that you will need depends on the grounds for divorce. Maine recognizes several grounds for divorce (set forth in 19-A M.R.S.A. § 902), but the most common is the "no-fault" ground of "irreconcilable differences." This is just a fancy way of saying the couple can't get along anymore, and it requires testimony that the marriage is broken beyond repair. This can be done through testimony of the parties.
How Long will it Take to get a Divorce?
A divorce hearing cannot take place until at least 60 days from the date that the "defendant" (the spouse that has to respond to the initial divorce paperwork) is served with a summons and complaint for divorce. After that, the speed at which you get divorced depends upon whether or not you and your spouse have agreed on all of the issues in your case, or whether you will require a full-blown divorce trial.
What Issues Does a Divorce Court Decide as Part of a Divorce Action?
In addition to dissolving the bonds of matrimony, a divorce court may address any of the following issues:
- property division (both real estate and personal property)
- parental rights and responsibilities for minor children (including legal and physical custody, parenting plans, and child support)
- spousal support (also called alimony)
- any request that the other spouse pay for attorney's fees related to the divorce, and
- either spouse's request that a name be changed or a former name restored.
Should I Represent Myself or Hire a Divorce Attorney?
You always have the right to represent yourself in court. However, this may not be in your best interest. Family law can be rather complex, and if you miss some technical requirement or are unfamiliar with the law, you may unknowingly give up important rights. The legal costs of trying to straighten out mistakes in a divorce, may amount to well more than what you think you saved by representing yourself.
If you are unsure of your rights under the law or if any of the issues in your divorce are contested, you should contact an experienced family law attorney in your area for help.