Maine Divorce

Residency Requirements

In general, to file for divorce in Maine, one of the parties must have been a resident in the state for 6 months prior to filing.


Grounds for Divorce

In Maine, a divorce may be granted for one of the following causes:
A. Adultery;
B. Impotence;
C. Extreme cruelty;
D. Utter desertion continued for 3 consecutive years prior to the commencement of the action;
E. Gross and confirmed habits of intoxication from the use of liquor or drugs;
F. Nonsupport, when one spouse has sufficient ability to provide for the other spouse and grossly, wantonly or cruelly refuses or neglects to provide suitable maintenance for the complaining spouse;
G. Cruel and abusive treatment;
H. Irreconcilable marital differences; or
I. A judicial determination has been made that one of the parties is an incapacitated person.


Division of Property

All property acquired by either spouse subsequent to the marriage and prior to a decree of legal separation, with a few exceptions including gifts, is presumed to be marital property regardless of whether title is held individually or by both of the spouses together.

The court will then divide the marital property in proportions the court considers just after considering all relevant factors, including:
A. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
B. The value of the property set apart to each spouse; and
C. The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live in the home for reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of the children.


Spousal Support

There are several different types of spousal support that can be awarded in a Maine divorce case. General support may be awarded to provide financial assistance to a spouse with substantially less income potential than the other spouse. Transitional support may be awarded to provide for a spouse’s transitional needs, such as gaining education to re-enter the work force, if applicable. Reimbursement support may be awarded to achieve an equitable result in the overall dissolution of the parties’ financial relationship. Interim support may be awarded to provide for a spouse during the pendency of the divorce action.

The court will consider the following factors when determining an award of spousal support:
A. The length of the marriage;
B. The ability of each party to pay;
C. The age of each party;
D. The employment history and employment potential of each party;
E. The income history and income potential of each party;
F. The education and training of each party;
G. The provisions for retirement and health insurance benefits of each party;
H. The tax consequences of the division of marital property, including the tax consequences of the sale of the marital home, if applicable;
I. The health and disabilities of each party;
J. The tax consequences of a spousal support award;
K. The contributions of either party as homemaker;
L. The contributions of either party to the education or earning potential of the other party;
M. Economic misconduct by either party resulting in the diminution of marital property or income;
N. The standard of living of the parties during the marriage;
O. The ability of the party seeking support to become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time;
P. The effect of the following on a party’s need for spousal support or a party’s ability to pay spousal support; and
Q. Any other factors the court considers appropriate.


Child Custody

Courts in Maine will generally accept agreements parents have made in regards to custody unless there is substantial evidence that the agreement should not be ordered.

When the court rules on child custody, it applies the best interest of the child standard. The court will focus primarily on the safety and well-being of the child, but will also consider the following factors:
A. The age of the child;
B. The relationship of the child with the child’s parents and any other persons who may significantly affect the child’s welfare;
C. The preference of the child, if old enough to express a meaningful preference;
D. The duration and adequacy of the child’s current living arrangements and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
E. The stability of any proposed living arrangements for the child;
F. The motivation of the parties involved and their capacities to give the child love, affection and guidance;
G. The child’s adjustment to the child’s present home, school and community;
H. The capacity of each parent to allow and encourage frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other parent, including physical access;
I. The capacity of each parent to cooperate or to learn to cooperate in child care;
J. Methods for assisting parental cooperation and resolving disputes and each parent’s willingness to use those methods;
K. The effect on the child if one parent has sole authority over the child’s upbringing;
L. The existence of domestic abuse between the parents, in the past or currently, and how that abuse affects the child emotionally and the safety of the child;
M. The existence of any history of child abuse by a parent;
N. All other factors having a reasonable bearing on the physical and psychological well-being of the child;
O. A parent’s prior willful misuse of the protection from abuse process in order to gain tactical advantage in a proceeding involving the determination of parental rights and responsibilities of a minor child;
P. If the child is under one year of age, whether the child is being breast-fed;
Q. The existence of a parent’s conviction for a sex offense or a sexually violent offense;
R. If there is a person residing with a parent, whether that person, has been convicted of certain crimes; and
S. Whether allocation of some or all parental rights and responsibilities would best support the child’s safety and well-being.


Child Support

The total basic child support obligation must be divided between the parties in proportion to their respective gross incomes. The court or hearing officer shall order the party not providing primary residential care to pay child support to the party providing primary residential care. The primary residential care provider is presumed to spend the primary care provider’s share directly on each child.

Visit Maine’s child support calculator to get a rough estimate of monthly child support costs.


Sources (Maine Legislature website)


Maine Resources


Laws & Courts:

Maine Law – state statutes, Title 19A “Domestic Relations”, Parts 2 and 3.
Judicial Branch – site includes a court directory, opinions, court publications, and legal news.

Additional Resources:

Pine Tree Legal Assistance – a non-profit corporation providing legal assistance to people in the State of Maine whose income is one hundred twenty-five percent of the federal income poverty guidelines or less.
Maine State Bar Association – online legal information pamphlets, legal forms, and news for attorneys and the public.
Children’s Rights Council – national nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC that works to assure children meaningful and continuing contact with both their parents and extended family regardless of the parents’ marital status.

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Additional Links

The State Resource pages are provided for informational purposes only. Do not take any actions based upon the information contained within the State Resource pages without first consulting an attorney licensed in your state. We at strive to keep our information up-to-date; however state laws are not static and subject to change without notice.