How to File Divorce in Maine

How to File Divorce in Maine

Did you know that “Maine” is the only state name with just one syllable? If you live in Maine and your marriage is just not working out, here is what you need to know.  

Divorce residency requirements

You must have some very specific ties to the state if you want a Maine court to grant your divorce.  If you are a resident of Maine and were married in Maine, then Maine can grant you a divorce.  It also works if you moved to the state and have resided there for six months before filing for divorce.  The other option is for the other spouse to be a resident of Maine.

Grounds for divorce

Until recent decades, getting divorced in America required proving that your spouse did something wrong.  That is called a “fault” divorce. Today, every state in the union has created a “no-fault” divorce as well.  That just means the couple wants to split up and go their separate ways. In Maine, the fault ground for divorce is “irreconcilable marital differences.”  The couple just needs to tell the court their marriage is not working and the court will end their marriage.  

That said, Maine does still have fault grounds for divorce on the books.  Fault grounds include adultery, impotence, extreme cruelty, utter dissertation for three years, habits of intoxication, nonsupport, abuse, and incapacitation.  Most people will not go through the trouble of proving something like this, though. Irreconcilable differences will be enough.

Splitting the pie

The real fights in a divorce are over money and children.  When it comes to money, Maine is called an “equitable division” state.  That means that everything a couple owns is put together into one big pile, and then the judge decides how to divide it up.  In reality, most couples will come to an agreement on how their money should be split, and if not the court will typically divide the money equally.  

Maine judges are given very specific factors to consider when dividing the money.  This includes the contribution each spouse made to the couple’s assets, the value of the property each spouse has to themselves, and the economic circumstances that each spouse will have after the divorce.  These factors are mostly trying to get at protecting a homemaker wife from being suddenly destitute while her high-earning husband goes off and rebuilds his financial life with his income. Spousal support, also called alimony, can be awarded in this situation.  

The court has forms

Each divorce is different, but the legal elements are all often very similar.  The Maine court system has tried to simplify things by adopting specific forms for divorce, including those involving children and those without.  Arranging for custody and child support if necessary are particularly challenging issues because it requires the couple to continue dealing with each other and the legal process until the children are grown.  

Couples with a lot of money might want to have each spouse hire their own lawyer so each lawyer can fight for the best deal for the spouse they represent.  Hiring one lawyer to serve as a mediator to walk a couple through the process of coming to an agreement and then enshrining that agreement into law is a less expensive option.  That said, the forms do give non-lawyers the capability of handling their own divorce.

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