Divorce FAQ’s

How long will it take to get Divorced?

Before a divorce hearing can take place, the spouse who is not initiating the Divorce must be served with a summons and complaint for divorce at least 60 days prior to any hearing. Once the other party has been served, how long it will take to get divorced depends upon whether or not you and your spouse have agreed on all of the issues involved in your Divorce, or whether you and your spouse cannot agree on the issues involved. 

What issues will a Divorce Court decide?

A Divorce Court dissolves the bonds of matrimony. Further, a Divorce Court may address any of the following issues as well:

  • Property Division, including personal property and real estate;
  • Parental Rights and Responsibilities for minor children, including legal and physical custody, visitation schedules, and child support;
  • Spousal Support;
  • Requests that the other spouse pay for attorney’s fee’s relating to the Divorce; and
  • Either spouse’s request for a name to be changed or for a former name to be restored.

How does a Judge determine Parental Rights and Responsibilities?

Parental Rights and Responsibilities will be determined based on the best interests of the children. Maine law requires that the Court consider numerous factors in determining the best interests. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The age of the child;
  • The relationship of the child with the child’s parents and any other persons who may significantly affect the child’s welfare;
  • The preference of the child, if old enough to express a meaningful preference;
  • The stability of any proposed living arrangements for the child;
  • The child’s adjustment of the child’s present home, school and community;
  • The capacity of each parent to allow and encourage frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other parent, including physical access;
  • The capacity of each parent to cooperate or to learn to cooperate in child care;
  • All factors having a reasonable bearing on the physical and psychological well-being of the child;
  • Whether allocation of some or all parental rights and responsibilities would best support the child’s safety and well-being

How does a Judge determine Child Support?

Child support is governed by Guidelines found in 19-A M.R.S. §§ 2001 – 2012, which is issued by the State of Maine. These Guidelines take into account certain factors such as: each parent’s income, the number of children and their ages, health insurance costs, extraordinary medical expenses, and day care expenses. Depending on the specific facts of your case, there may be other factors that would need to be acknowledged as well.

How is Property Divided when you get Divorced?

Maine is an “equitable distribution” state. This means that property and debts should be divided fairly and reasonably between the divorcing parties, but not necessarily equal. The Court will consider each spouses contribution to the martial property, the value of the property that is set aside to each spouse, and the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time of the Divorce.

What is a Case Management Conference?

When there is no agreement between the parties of the Divorce, the parties and their lawyers are required to attend a half-hour conference. Within a few weeks of filing divorce papers with the Court, both parties will usually receive Notice for a Case Management Conference. This Notice will tell the parties the date and time for this Conference. Divorcing parties who have children under the age of 18 must participate in Case Management Conferences. Issues in dispute will be discussed, and deadlines will be established for the exchange of information between the parties and mediation. If no complete, final agreement is reached at the conference, the parties will usually be required to go to mediation.

What is Mediation?

When the parties are unable to come to an amicable agreement on every issues in dispute, the parties will attend Mediation. The parties, their attorneys, and a mediator will meet in private, where the unresolved issues are discussed. Mediators are hired by the Court, but they cannot provide legal advice. Mediators are impartial. A mediator’s job is to try and help the parties come to reasonable agreements concerning the issues involved in the parties divorce.

Can a Temporary Order be issued by the Court before the Divorce is finalized?

Maine law allows you or your spouse to request an Interim Court Order. An Interim Court Order will govern your marital affairs until the Divorce is finalized. Interim Orders generally contain information such as, but not limited to: which spouse will have the use of the marital home, who is responsible for which marital debts, temporary support and/or spousal support, and parental rights and responsibilities for minor children. 

What is a Final Hearing?

When the parties come to an agreement either through attorney negotiations or mediation, a proposed divorce judgment will be prepared. The proposed divorce judgment will be presented to the Judge for their approval. During a Final Hearing the proposed divorce judgment is approved, and it becomes final.

When an agreement is not reached between the parties, the Final Hearing is a Trial. Witnesses can testify and the Judge will decide on all issues remaining. 

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