If you've decided to divorce, but aren't familiar with the process, you probably have no idea where to begin. This article will cover the basics of filing for divorce in Maine. If you have specific questions, you should contact a local family law attorney for advice.
A "complaint" is the court document that starts the divorce. The spouse that files (submits) the complaint is the "plaintiff," and the other spouse is the "defendant."
In Maine, divorces are handled by the family division of the district court. The State of Maine Judicial Branch website matches each county in Maine and its district court. The county in which you live will determine where you can file for divorce.
The divorce process begins with a "Complaint for Divorce with Children" if there are children as a result of the marriage who are:
The complaint for divorce is a self-explanatory, fill-in form. Maine's Judicial Branch website also provides an overview of the divorce process. Once you've completed the complaint, you also should complete:
You must sign the complaint and the affidavit of child support before a notary public or licensed Maine attorney. By doing so, you're stating that the information you provided is true to the best of your knowledge. These documents will help a judge determine child support in your case.
At your local courthouse, request a blank "Summons and Preliminary Injunction" form. Complete the summons caption, which is the name of your case. For example if Paul Public wants to divorce his wife, Petunia Public, the case caption is "Paul Public v. Petunia Public." There is a small fee for the blank summons. Call the district court to ask what forms of payment are acceptable.
There is a separate complaint form when no minor children are involved. Maine's Judicial Branch website provides an overview of other issues that may come up in divorces without children. In addition, you should complete:
If you truly believe that you and your spouse have no disagreements and will have an uncontested divorce, you can avoid detailing your financial information by filing the Certificate in Lieu of Financial Statement.
Just as in a case involving children, you need a blank summons from the court.
Maine law has specific methods of notifying or "serving" the other spouse. You may choose one of these methods:
Use this if your spouse doesn't send you the acknowledgment within 20 days. Again, mail your spouse:
When you receive the green card back, deliver it to the court to prove that your spouse received a copy of the divorce complaint.
If the above methods don't work, contact the civil process office for sheriff in the county where your spouse resides or works. The sheriff charges a fee for this service. Provide the sheriff's office:
The sheriff will give your spouse copies of the complaint, the summons and child support affidavit. The sheriff will give you the original summons plus a proof of service, which you should return to the court to prove that your spouse has received a copy of the divorce complaint.
Once you have proof that your spouse received a copy of the divorce complaint, complete the family matter summary sheet, which is online. Bring or mail the summary sheet with the following to the district court:
As the defendant in a divorce, you may file an answer and counter-complaint for divorce. The court website has fill-in- the-blank forms for completion. The answer and counter-complaint need to be given to the plaintiff in the same manner as the initial divorce complaint.
Take the time to get informed on the divorce process and related legal issues in our section on Maine Divorce and Family Laws.
For more information on legal aid resources in Maine, visit the Legal Resources section of the Maine Judicial Branch website.
In addition, the Pine Tree Legal Assistance website has further information including forms you can fill in online.