How Do I Start the Divorce Process in Maine?

Posted by William Bly | May 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

Start-divorce-process

You've tried to work things out and your differences are irreconcilable. As difficult as it may be, the best thing you can do for yourself and your children if you have them is to move on. No one benefits from a miserable and combative environment, and if you've given it your best and realize that remaining in your marriage is not an option, you should begin your divorce process immediately. Yes, this is intimidating, but, you can do it. Starting the divorce process in Maine isn't as complicated as it might seem; here's how to do it.

Decide Your Divorce Classification

Maine has two separate classifications under which you may file for divorce, “fault” and “no-fault.” As their names suggest, a fault divorce assesses blame against one of the partners as the reason for the divorce. Examples of reasons for fault in a divorce include adultery, cruelty, impotence, mental illness and substance abuse among others. A no-fault divorce does not assess blame on either party, and the reason for the separation is due to “irreconcilable differences.” There are benefits associated with filing either way, so think carefully over which type of divorce you choose to file.

Obtain the Proper Paperwork

Once you've decided on the type of divorce, you may either visit your district courthouse and obtain the paperwork from the district clerk, or download the paperwork online. You may also consider hiring counsel at this time to guide you through the paperwork, as the forms you will be filing are:

-- Complaint for Divorce: This is the official form initiating your divorce. You are notifying your spouse and the court of your intent for divorce and the reasons why.

-- Child Support Affidavit: If children are involved in the divorce, you will need to fill out a Child Support Affidavit. This form outlines your prior and expected income.

-- Family Matter Summons and Preliminary Injunction: Retrieve this form from the court's District Clerk, as you will be required to have an original on hand when it comes time to serve your spouse with the divorce papers.

-- Social Security Number Disclosure Form: You are required to provide the courts with your and your children's Social Security Numbers. Do not worry; the court keeps this information confidential.

Fill out all paperwork, sign it in front of a Notary Public and make a copy of all the paperwork, a copy for you and a copy for your spouse.

Serve Your Spouse

You must “serve” (provide) your spouse with his or her copies of the completed forms. You may do this by directly presenting them to your spouse yourself, by mail or by the Sheriff's Department. If you are not comfortable serving your spouse with the divorce papers yourself, or you feel your spouse may become combative and/or violent, it is likely best to pay the fee to have the Sheriff perform the service.

In all cases, you will be including your complaint, child support affidavit and the summons and preliminary injunction. If you decide to serve your spouse in person or by mail, you will also need to include two copies of an Acknowledgment of Receipt of Summons and Complaint (you can get this from the courthouse) and a self-addressed, stamped envelope. If you mail your divorce papers, you must do so certified, with a return receipt requested and under restricted delivery.

Your spouse has 20 days to sign the acknowledgment of receipt and mail it back to you. If he or she is served in person, they will sign the acknowledgment at that time. Once you've received the acknowledgment, you may proceed with filing your papers.

File Your Paperwork

Obtain or download the Family Matter Summary Sheet and complete it. Take it and your complaint, affidavit, summons, acknowledgment and certified mail return receipt (if applicable) to the courthouse and file your paperwork with the clerk. Be prepared to pay the necessary filing fees at that time, as this will be required, or to fill out an Application to Proceed Without Payment of Fees and Indigency Affidavit if you cannot afford them. You have now started the process of your divorce.

Now What…?

So, what does this mean? Although difficult, you've just taken a positive step toward your personal health and happiness. The road ahead of you will be tough; even if the divorce ends amicably, you'll still feel a sense of failure and significant change. Although this step will personally strengthen you, no one has ever said the process is easy. You are not alone, and you should not take this life-changing event lightly. Seek counsel, both legal and psychological if necessary, to guide and help you through this process. You've started your divorce; allow someone to traverse the path alongside you.

About the Author

William Bly

William T. Bly, Esq. is a graduate of Rutgers College where he majored in Political Science with a minor in U.S. History. Attorney Bly attended and graduated the University of Maine School of Law. During his time in law school, Attorney Bly focused on criminal defense.

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