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Traditional Divorce and Family Law in Maine: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know whether Maine is the proper venue for my divorce?

A person seeking a divorce may file a complaint for divorce in the District Court if:

  • A. The plaintiff has resided in good faith in Maine for 6 months prior to the commencement of the action;
  • B. The plaintiff is a resident of Maine and the parties were married in this State;
  • C. The plaintiff is a resident of Maine and the parties resided in this State when the cause of divorce accrued; or
  • D. The defendant is a resident of Maine. (19-A M.R.S.A. §901)
    The right to file a complaint or bring a petition under Maine’s family law statute cannot be denied to a person for failure to meet a residency requirement if the person is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States on active duty stationed in Maine or the spouse of that member or a parent of a child of that member. The member is deemed to be a resident either of the county in which the military installation, or other place at which the member has been stationed, is located or of the county in which the member has sojourned. (19-A M.R.S.A. §102) When residents of Maine go out of the State for the purpose of obtaining a divorce for causes that occurred here while the parties lived here or that do not authorize a divorce here, and a divorce is thus obtained, the divorce is void in Maine. In all other cases, a divorce decreed out of the State according to the law of the place, by a court having jurisdiction of the cause and of both parties, is valid here. (19-A M.R.S.A. §907)

Where do I file for divorce or unmarried parental rights and responsibilities in Maine?

In most cases the Maine District Court has original jurisdiction of all actions under the Maine family law statutes. A complaint for divorce may be filed in the District Court of the county of the town in which either party lives as long as the requirements set out above are met.

How much will it cost for me to get divorced in Maine?

The cost to file a complaint for divorce in Maine is $120. If the other party does not accept service of the complaint willingly, it is likely to cost an additional $25 to $50 to have the petition served upon the party by the Sherriff. If there are issues in dispute and mediation is ordered by the court, each party will be required to pay an $80 mediation fee (for each mediation attended). Parties whose income falls below a certain level can apply for a waiver of filing and mediation costs at the clerk’s office at the District Court.

Can I represent myself in a divorce in Maine?

A party, Maine resident or nonresident, always has the right to represent themselves in court. If you have any concerns about doing so, if you have questions regarding your rights under the law, or if any of the issues in your divorce are contested, it is recommended that you at least consult with a lawyer licensed to practice in Maine—preferably a lawyer experienced in Maine family law. Although some aspects of a divorce are subject to modification after a final judgment, that is not true for all aspects, and it is certainly easier (and less expensive) to simply get it right the first time. When you are dealing with the division of assets, once a division is made and a judgment is final, you cannot go back and have the court redistribute the property.

Do I need a Maine attorney?

Only an attorney licensed to practice law in Maine is able to represent you in court.

What issues will the Maine divorce court decide?

The District Court will enter a judgment that includes the following: division of the assets of the parties including real and personal property, whether or not any spousal support is awarded, attorney’s fees, parental rights and responsibilities with regards to any children of the marriage and child support, and a change of name of a party if so desired.

How long will it take to get divorced or establish parental rights and responsibilities in Maine?

Maine law requires that parties wait 60 days from the date of filing until a final divorce judgment can be entered. Only if the parties are in agreement on all issues from the outset is it likely a judgment will be entered soon after this 60 day period. If there are issues of property and children that are contested and a hearing is necessary, a divorce is likely to take anywhere from 6 to 18 months. When children are involved, it is not uncommon for a divorce to take more than 18 months before resolution.

Attorney Govan practices family law in the Counties of Cumberland, Kennebec, Sagadahoc, Southern Oxford, and York, Maine.

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