Maine Real Estate Divorce Law
One of the most common types of property that a couple has to divide in a divorce or legal separation is real estate. Real estate includes any land, homes or buildings that a couple owns. This can also include property that one party owns that was acquired during the marriage. Maine is an equitable division state which means that both parties have a right to an equal amount of their marital property in a divorce.
The first step in dividing real estate is determining what real estate is “marital property”. Under Maine law, all property that is obtained during a marriage is considered “marital property” that is subject to disposition of property laws unless it was:
- Received as a gift or inherited
- Acquired in exchange for property that was received as a gift or inherited
- Obtained after the legal separation was decreed
- Listed as an exception by a “valid agreement of the parties”
Also not considered when dividing real estate is any increase in value of land that was acquired before the marriage. This includes appreciation in value of land or property due to “market forces”.
Real estate divorce laws can be very confusing. If you are filing for divorce or legal separation of marriage that involves real estate, call our office and speak to a Maine divorce attorney first. It is important to understand your rights and how a divorce can affect your property.
Division of Real Estate in Maine
Determining what real estate property is marital property can be quite difficult. For example, even though one party possesses the title of a piece of real estate in their name only, it can still be considered joint property if certain criteria apply. According to Maine's disposition of property law, if real estate is owned by one party and was acquired during the marriage, it can be considered marital property if:
- It does not fit any of the circumstance listed above or under section 953.2 of Maine's Revised Statutes
- The non-owner spouse files any of the following:
- A copy of the divorce complaint as it is filed with the court
- The clerk's certificate of the divorce complaint
- A degree or abstract of the decree
This decree must be filed in the registry of deeds in the county or district in which the real estate is located and must include the following minimum requirements as defined under section 953.7:
A. The caption of the case, including the names of the parties, and any changes to the parties' names after the decree;
B. The date the judgment is final and the court that issued the decree;
C. An adequate description of the real estate, such as by reference to the volume and page number of an instrument recorded in the registry of deeds or the probate court record, or an adequate description by metes and bounds or by reference to the volume and page number of the registry of deeds' records of a survey plan of the property;
D. Any provision of the decree intended by the court to constitute an encumbrance against real estate, including any conditions pertaining to the encumbrance, in the verbatim language used by the court. If the abstract does not contain the provision required by this paragraph, an encumbrance may not be considered effective against a 3rd party unless the encumbrance has been memorialized in a separate, duly recorded instrument; and
E. A clear statement of the ownership interest of the parties in the real estate intended by the court to result from that decree.
In most marriages, the greatest real estate asset is the marital home. The equity for the home as well as other real estate is determined by finding the market value of the property minus any debts or liens that are in place against it. The couple can then choose to sell the home and divide the proceeds, award the home to one spouse and other property or cash to the other or continue to own the home jointly for a given period of time. This third choice is usually only used when a child is involved so that they can be raised in the same home until a certain age.
Maine Divorce Attorney
At WTB Law, we understand that a divorce or separation can be one fo the most difficult times in your life. That is why our lawyers strive to help our clients get through the process as easily as possible and make informed decisions about their future. Regardless of the type of divorce process you plan on using, a divorce lawyer is essential to make sure that your best interests are being looked after. To find out more, contact our office at (207) 571-8146.