The divorce process is riddled with legal minefields.
The problem is simple: You don’t know what you don’t know.
That’s why we put this Maine divorce guide together. It lays out the answers to the divorce questions swirling around in your head… and ones you didn’t even think to ask.
- What are the grounds for divorce in Maine?
- Legal Separation vs. Divorce
- Annulment vs. Divorce
- What are your Options for Getting a Divorce in Maine?
- What is the Process of Getting a Divorce in Maine?
- Can I File for Divorce in Maine Without an Attorney?
- Can I File for Divorce Online in Maine?
- Can I Mail Divorce Papers in Maine?
- Can I Refuse or Contest a Divorce?
- How Long Does a Divorce Take in Maine?
- What is the Waiting Period to Get Divorced in Maine?
- Can I Expedite my Divorce?
- What is the Cost of a Divorce in Maine?
- How Do I Cancel a Divorce?
- What is a Contested Divorce?
- What is an Uncontested Divorce?
- What is a Divorce Decree?
- What is Proof of Divorce?
- Can I Stop a Divorce?
- Can I Reverse a Divorce?
- What is a Bifurcated Divorce?
- What is a No-fault Divorce?
- How does infidelity affect divorce in Maine?
- Changing Your Name
- Bonus: Recommended Resources for a Better Divorce
What Are Grounds for Divorce in Maine?
Before you can file, one of the grounds you must meet is the state’s residency requirement needed to file for divorce.
Maine is both a no-fault and fault-based state for divorce.
To get a no-fault divorce, all you must do is cite irreconcilable differences in your marriage. No other explanation is necessary. This means you and your spouse no longer get along and there’s no chance you’re going to get back together.
Maine also allows fault-based divorces. The burden of proving a fault-based reason is higher, but it can work in the plaintiff’s favor in many cases. You may be able to gain certain advantages when it comes to alimony or child custody, for example.
The grounds that qualify for a fault-based divorce are:
- Impotence (if it existed at the time of the marriage)
- Extreme cruelty (intentional violence)
- Continued desertion for three consecutive years immediately prior to the filing of the divorce with no intention of ever returning
- Gross and confirmed habits of intoxication from the use of liquor or drugs
- Nonsupport, when one spouse has sufficient ability to provide for the other spouse and grossly, wantonly, or cruelly fails to provide suitable support for the spouse making the claim
- Cruel and abusive treatment (acts that cause physical or emotional trauma or that jeopardizes and spouse’s physical or mental health if they continue)
- A determination by a judge that one of the spouses is incapacitated, and a permanent guardian has been appointed for that spouse.
Legal Separation vs. Divorce
When one or both parties submit a petition for divorce to the court, the judge can enter a separation decree if the couple wants to live apart from each other for at least 60 continuous days.
The court in Maine may issue orders awarding parental rights and responsibilities regarding minor children of the marriage.
The court can also make provisions for spousal support and enter a decree for parental rights and responsibilities, including child support.
In a legal separation, the court may also order a division of the parties’ property according to Maine property distribution laws.
If spouses can’t reconcile during a legal separation, then they can divorce.
Couples sometimes choose legal separation for religious reasons, because divorce may be a conflict depending on their spiritual beliefs. At other times, legal separation may be a way to let a spouse keep health insurance and can provide tax benefits that only married couples can enjoy.
Annulment vs. Divorce
An annulment voids a marriage in Maine. It is as if their marriage never happened.
Annulments are rare in Maine but may be granted under certain conditions:
- Marriages between a man and his mother, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece; or aunt.
- Marriages between a woman and her father, grandfather, son, grandson, brother, nephew, or uncle.
- Marriages between a man and his first cousin or a woman and her first cousin are prohibited unless they provide a physician’s certificate of genetic counseling.
- One or both parties to the marriage is mentally impaired (by either illness or retardation) to the extent that he/she does not have the sufficient mental capacity to make, communicate or implement responsible decisions concerning his/her property or person.
- One or both parties to the marriage have a living spouse from whom he/she is not divorced.
- Parties to the marriage are the same sex.
- Both parties must be at least 18 to marry without parental consent. If the parties are under 16, parental and judicial consent are required.
- When one of the parties committed fraud by misrepresenting himself/herself to obtain consent to marriage.
- If a person cannot consummate a marriage due to impotency
What are your Options for Getting a Divorce in Maine?
How you go about the process of getting a divorce in Maine will be driven by your personal circumstances, and the amount of conflict you have with your spouse. There are several possible ways for you to proceed:
This is known as an uncontested divorce. If you and your spouse can agree on all the issues in advance, you can file paperwork with the court stating this fact, and you will usually be granted a divorce in a short amount of time, the least amount of emotional stress, and the lowest possible costs.
You may be able to go through the entire process without appearing in front of a judge, or appearing only briefly to answer a few questions.
This is similar to a DIY divorce, except that you rely a lot more on pre-printed forms and online services or attorneys to help you complete the required paperwork. The automated approach can save a lot of money, but you need to be careful about making costly mistakes if you go this route.
You meet with a neutral third party who helps you work through the areas of disagreement you have, such as property division, child custody and visitation, and related issues. When you strike an agreement, you draw up a proposal and submit it to the court for approval. This is a quicker, cheaper, and less contentious route for many couples than going through a full-blown trial.
This is an option for couples who still have a fair amount of cooperation and trust between them. Any disagreements are resolved respectfully and amicably using attorneys who are specially trained in collaborative law. That is less costly than other forms of divorce and leaves decisions with the couple, and not a judge.
If collaboration fails, you can move forward with other types of divorce, but you will need to retain a different attorney if you do.
Litigation is a traditional approach to divorce. You and your attorneys engage with your spouse and their attorneys in an attempt to negotiate a settlement before going to trial. About 95% of all litigated divorces end this way. If you can reach an agreement through a negotiated settlement or arbitration instead of a trial, then you can save some time and aggravation.
Similar to mediation, but instead of a third-party mediator, you will work with a third party, often a private judge, who will listen to both sides and then issue a binding ruling. People often choose this when there is a fair amount of conflict, but they don’t want the public exposure, cost, and attention that a full trial brings.
What is the Process of Getting a Divorce in Maine?
After you complete, file, and serve your paperwork, if you have minor children, your case will be handled initially by a Family Law Magistrate at a local district court. Your first meeting with the magistrate will take place shortly after your case is filed with the court.
The parties will try to establish temporary living arrangements for the children and determine the level of temporary support one parent may be required to pay. The magistrate can make rulings on things that must be decided immediately, but all parties have the right to have final decisions made by a judge.
Mediators are hired by the courts to try and reach settlements in advance of going to a trial. While mediation is often successful, parties are not obligated to agree to anything if they so choose.
If you can’t agree, then you may continue negotiations, but eventually you will go to court and a judge will hear testimony and review evidence as part of a trial. The judge will then rule on all outstanding issues and sign a final decree, completing the divorce.
Can I File for Divorce in Maine Without an Attorney?
Yes. You can file for divorce on your own and attempt to negotiate a fair settlement with your spouse. This works best when there’s a reasonably high level of agreement and trust between spouses.
However, if you have disagreements, you should seriously consider hiring an attorney to protect your interests.
Can I File for Divorce Online in Maine?
You can start the divorce process in Maine by working with any number of firms online who will help you complete paperwork. Private attorneys can assist you via email for cost and time savings as well.
Our favorite resource for a fast and effective online divorce is: 3 Step Divorce.
3 Step Divorce checks all the boxes that make an online divorce worthwhile.
They aim to make it easy – and they certainly deliver.
From step-by-step instructions to unlimited live support, here are just a few of the reasons why 3 Step is our #1 recommended online divorce resource:
- $299 flat-fee with no hidden charges
- Monthly payment options as low as $84/mo
- Initial questionnaire takes less than 1 hour
- Library of free tools and resources
- Unlimited access to support agents by phone or email
- Immediate access to completed forms
- Assurance of 100% court-approval (or your money back!)
3 Step Divorce also boasts the highest customer rating in the industry (4.6 stars based on 1,575 reviews).
You can learn more by reading our 3StepDivorce review.
Better yet, you can Start Your 3 Step Divorce NOW (as low as $84/month).
When your paperwork is complete, you will need to file it in person at your local court, typically in the county where you or your spouse live.
Can I Mail Divorce Papers in Maine?
After you file with the court, you can mail paperwork to your spouse through regular mail. The spouse has 20 days to mail back an acknowledgement of receipt or give it to you in person.
If the spouse does not reply, then you can send the paperwork by certified mail, return receipt requested, restricted delivery.
After the mailing is complete, you will need to submit an affidavit showing that the required papers were acknowledged and received by signature by your spouse.
Can I Refuse or Contest a Divorce?
You can’t refuse to get divorced but you can contest the terms under which the divorce takes place.
How Long Does a Divorce Take in Maine?
An uncontested divorce takes anywhere from a minimum of 60 to 90 days or more in Maine depending on the availability of a judge and the court’s backlog of cases.
When you can’t settle your differences, you may have to appear in front of a judge and make your case as part of a trial. Depending on the complexity and number of issues, this could take as long as a year before a final settlement
What is the Waiting Period to Get a Divorce in Maine?
There is a 60-day waiting period from the date the summons and complaint were served on the other party before a final divorce can be granted by the court.
However, most divorces take much longer, especially if there are unresolved issues that must be decided by the court. It’s not uncommon for cases to take several months, and even longer, when children are involved.
Part of the length of time also depends on court caseloads and the availability of judges to oversee issues and make rulings related to a divorce.
Can I Expedite my Divorce?
Yes. The best way to do this is to work cooperatively with your spouse to reach agreement on all your issues before you file for divorce. This minimizes time, costs, and frustrations, allowing you to move quickly to the next chapter of your life.
If you aren’t able to go through an uncontested divorce and you have disagreements to be resolved, you can speed the process by being attentive to requests for information, appearing on time at all court dates, negotiating in good faith, and deciding early on what is most important to you in the divorce and what parts you are willing to give up.
What is the Cost of a Divorce in Maine?
The cost to file for divorce in Maine is $120. If the other party is not agreeable to accepting service of paperwork, then you will also need to hire the sheriff or a process server at an additional cost of $25 to $50.
When mediation is ordered by the court, each party must pay an $80 mediation fee for each session they attend.
If your income falls below certain levels, you can apply for a fee waiver at the clerk’s office at the District Court.
How Do I Cancel a Divorce?
In Maine, if you are the plaintiff in a divorce and you have filed your paperwork, you can file a Motion to Dismiss and this will effectively end your case. You can’t file a motion if you are the defendant.
Once your divorce has been finalized by a judge, there is no way to cancel it. If you want to get back together with the same person, you will have to get married again.
What is a Contested Divorce?
A contested divorce means that you and your spouse do not agree on all the issues related to ending your marriage.
You will have to negotiate or litigate the issues between you, costing you time, money and aggravation.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
In Maine, an uncontested divorce is the quickest and least costly divorce to go through. It essentially means that you and your spouse have agreed on all the issues between you before going to court.
A judge will need to review your proposed settlement, and if all is in order, the final decree will be issued in the shortest amount of time possible.
What is a Divorce Decree?
A Divorce Decree is the final settlement document approved by a judge that details the rights and responsibilities of each party in a divorce. It has details about alimony, child support and custody, a division of property and debts, and other pertinent issues.
court’s final order granting you a divorce. It contains detailed information about the court’s final decision regarding the legalities of your divorce in Hawaii.
It is a legal document and both parties are expected to follow the terms it lays out or risk penalties if the other spouse must return to court to force compliance.
What is Proof of Divorce?
A proof of divorce document is much less detailed than a divorce decree.
A certificate will show only that two people were divorced, as well as when and where the divorce took place. In some cases, a proof of divorce certificate is often required when a person wants to get remarried.
All of the state’s records of birth, death, fetal death, marriage, divorce and domestic partnership are housed at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC), Data, Research, and Vital Statistics (DRVS) office and most all municipal offices statewide.
To order a proof of divorce (or any other vital record) in Maine you will need to pay a $15 fee for the first copy and $6 for additional certified copy. The cost for a non-certified copy of a vital record is $10.00 and is stamped “not for legal purposes.”
You can mail a written request with payment by check or money order. Along with your request be sure to enclose a copy of your photo ID and a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your request. Go here for applications for a vital record.
You can also place your order by credit card. the state has partnered with VitalChek Network, Inc. to provide this service.
Visit VitalChek online, or by contact them by phone at 1-877-523-2659.
VitalChek may charge an additional fee to expedite using this service.
You can have the copy of the vital record sent by mail or by UPS. All major credit cards are accepted, including American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa.
Can I Stop a Divorce?
No. If a spouse wants to divorce you, there is no way to stop the process if that’s what they really want.
Can I Reverse a Divorce?
No. Once the divorce is finalized, the action is final. You can’t reverse a divorce at that point.
What is a Bifurcated Divorce?
When spouses can reach agreement on some, but not all, issues in a divorce, it may be possible to separate the legal actions into two separate cases known as a bifurcated divorce. This is allowed in rare cases in Maine.
What is a No-fault Divorce?
A no-fault divorce simply means that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences and there is no chance to get back together.
You don’t need to give any specific reasons why you want to get divorced, streamlining the process immeasurably.
How Does Infidelity Affect Divorce in Maine?
Adultery is one of the fault-based reasons you can get a divorce in Maine. It can affect alimony, a division of assets and in some cases, child custody and visitation.
Changing Your Name
You will be presented either an option to restore your former name or request a court order for changing names when preparing your divorce forms.
The name change will be granted as part of your divorce. You may either receive a separate court order making your name change official, or else have your name change recorded on the final divorce decree. Either of these documents are accepted with all US agencies and organizations as evidence of your name change.
Just because you have a court order does not mean your name change has taken effect. You need to contact all your organizations to request your records are updated.
It’s time-consuming to contact each company and figure out what to send where, so we recommend using an Easy Name Change kit to cut out the 10+ hours of research and paperwork that follows.
Recommended Divorce Resources
There are a ton of divorce resources that make big claims. We’ve personally tested a bunch of them. Most don’t make our cut. A few stand above the rest.
We’re very excited to share these tools and resources with you because we know that they will make your life better before, during, and after your divorce.
If you’re looking for recommendations in any of the following areas, we’ve got you covered:
- Online divorce
- QDRO preparation to divide retirement plans and pensions
- Masterclass on ninja tricks to negotiating with a narcissist
- Co-parenting apps
- Personal finance and budgeting apps
- Best place to sell your engagement ring
- Online dating
- And a whole lot more