Divorce & Separation
When a couple gets married, the very last thing they’re thinking about is the possibility of divorce. Nonetheless, the State of Maine has some of the highest divorce rates in the nation, and whether the divorce is a mutual decision or final-straw, no-other-option situation, it is essential to acquire the representation of a compassionate, yet hard-working and diligent, Portland, Maine divorce and separation attorney.
At our family law office, we understand the massive emotional weight of a divorce or a separation, especially when children are involved. For this reason, among others, our principal goal is to ensure full-service representation for your divorce matters, giving you peace of mind so you can focus on yourself and on your next steps in life. We’ll always put your interests at the forefront of our litigation strategies, providing you the confident guidance that comes from years of experience while always keeping you in the loop.
If you’re getting divorced or you want a legal separation, call our Portland family law office today at (207) 210-6555. Meanwhile, you will find some general information about divorce below. To learn more about the divorce process in Maine, follow the “Divorce Process” link from the “Practice Areas” tab of our home page.
Difference Between Divorce and Judicial Separation
The issues resolved and the process involved in getting a judicial separation are almost identical to getting a divorce. The primary difference between divorce and judicial separation is legal status. If you have a decree of judicial separation, except in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, you are still married. According to the IRS, if you separated from your spouse pursuant to a divorce decree or decree of legal separation on the last day of the tax year, you are considered “unmarried”.
Some reasons for legal separation in Maine include:
- One or both spouses oppose divorce due to religious reasons.
- One spouse remains eligible for the other spouse’s health care or insurance benefits.
- One or both spouses are just not ready for the finality of divorce, but wish to separate themselves and their finances under terms that can be enforced by a court of law.
Grounds for Divorce
Maine permits divorces to be granted on the ground that there are “irreconcilable differences” between spouses. This is also referred to as “no fault divorce.” Simply stated, “irreconcilable differences” means that the marriage is beyond repair. Although other grounds for divorce such as “cruel and abusive treatment” and “adultery” still exist under Maine law, it is generally frowned upon to allege these grounds. States that adopt the “no fault” ground for divorce do so to reduce the bitterness and hostility between spouses that are often generated by the legal process. Alleging fault grounds adds unneeded fuel to the fire.
In order to be eligible to file for divorce in Maine, one of the parties must have resided in Maine for at least six (6) months prior to filing.
Issues Resolved in a Divorce
In addition to determining whether you and your spouse will be divorced, Maine courts have the power to resolve the following issues:
- Determination of future parental rights and responsibilities for the minor children of the marriage, including where the children reside, parenting and contact plans, decision-making, and child support;
- Spousal support, referred to in some states as “alimony”;
- Allocating marital and non-marital property;
- Determining whether an asset should be sold, how it should be sold, and by whom;
- Allocating responsibility for debt and expenses;
- Allocating responsibility for paying attorneys’ fees and court costs as a result of the divorce; and
- Effecting a name change.
Something you should bear in mind throughout this proceeding is that when you divide the assets that you and your spouse have accumulated during your marriage, you will each end up with less than what you had when you were together. No matter how ingenious your lawyer, he or she cannot make a whole pie out of two pieces. Similarly, the income that once supported one household must now support two separate households.
Where to File Within Maine
The divorce action must be brought in the Maine District Court serving the city or town in which one or both of the parties reside.
For Cumberland County residents from Cape Elizabeth, Cumberland, Falmouth, Gorham, Gray, New Gloucester, North Yarmouth, Portland, Pownal, Scarborough, South Portland, Westbrook, Windham, and Yarmouth, the action will proceed in Portland District Court located at:
205 Newbury Street, Ground Floor
Portland, ME 04101
Ph: (207) 822-4200
The court is open between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm. For directions to the Portland District Court, click on the map below and enter your starting point.
For Cumberland County residents from Brunswick, Freeport, and Harpswell, the action will proceed in West Bath District Court located at:
101 New Meadows Road
West Bath, ME 04530-9704
Ph: (207) 442-0204
For residents of Northern Cumberland County (all towns not mentioned above), the action will proceed in Bridgton District Court located at:
3 Chase Street, Suite 2
Bridgton, ME 04009
Ph: (207) 647-3535
Contact Susan M. Schultz, LLC, Portland’s Leading Divorce Attorney
Depending on the circumstances of your marriage and divorce, including the presence of minor children, the divorce proceedings can be either quick and relatively painless or lengthy and full of emotional and financial complexities. Whatever the circumstances of your case, our mission is to represent your interests to the fullest extent with comprehensive, compassionate and, when necessary, aggressive legal representation for your divorce. Call Portland’s best divorce attorney by dialing (207) 210-6555 today.