You cannot quantify the emotional cost of divorce; the process is painful no matter the circumstances leading up to the dissolution of the marriage. You can quantify the monetary cost of divorce, however, and those costs can skyrocket in contested dissolutions. When preparing to divorce, costs are part of what the separating couple must take into consideration, and it helps to review some basic guidelines of how much your divorce in Maine will set you back. Please note that the exact and estimated fees discussed in this article are subject to change and effective as of July 2015.
Your first step to divorcing in Maine is to fill out your divorce complaint. There are two types of Complaint for Divorce forms: one for a divorce with children and one for a divorce without children. Once you've obtained the correct form, you must fill it out, include the required supporting forms and documentation, and serve the paperwork upon your spouse. The paperwork is free and can generally be downloaded online, serving your spouse and filing the completed documentation is not, and your fees will include:
-- approximately $7 to $10 to serve your spouse via certified U.S. mail, return receipt requested;
-- approximately $25 to $50 if you opt to have the Sheriff Department serve your spouse with the petition for divorce;
-- $120 to file the paperwork with the court once your spouse has been served with the divorce petition.
Additional fees might be incurred if you require assistance in filling out the petition for divorce and related paperwork. You can save some money by serving your spouse yourself if you feel comfortable with doing so.
There's a lot to sort out prior to finalizing your divorce, especially if you have children, and Maine encourages couples to come to a divorce agreement on their own prior to their court appearance. Once the divorce paperwork is served and filed, you will be required to attend a Case Management Conference. If the final divorce arrangements cannot be settled there, you may be ordered to attend mediation. Mediation will cost you $160, and this cost is oftentimes divided between the divorcing couple.
Attorney's fees will come into play for contested divorces—ones where agreements cannot be reached amicably through mediation—or divorces where the couples prefer the support and guidance of legal counsel. Attorney's fees may vary widely, and the longer it takes to reach a final divorce settlement, the higher the attorney's fees. On average, family law attorneys charge anywhere from $100 to $400 per hour, and if your case is extremely complex, you might be charged for support staff. Paralegal and legal secretary staff is billed anywhere from $50 to $100 and $25 to $50 an hour on average, respectively.
You might also pay a flat rate for your divorce attorney if your divorce is uncontested and straightforward, and in most cases your attorney will require a retainer fee, which is a lump sum deposit to begin working on your case. Once the retainer is gone, the attorney will begin billing you hourly for any additional costs.
Loss of Assets
Aside from these costs, you will also lose a portion of your assets in your divorce. If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have purchased a home, a family car, recreational vehicles, set aside financial savings, invested in stocks and bonds, have retirement plans, etc., all of these joint holdings are going to be divided and you are going to lose half of what you had at the very least.
There is naturally no way to quantify how much of your assets you will lose from your divorce, as everyone's financial situation and final divorce agreement is different. For example, you might keep the house and your ex-spouse might keep the car and recreational vehicles. Asset loss really depends on what the divorcing couple has to divide and how it is divided. Either way, there will be financial rearranging and upset that you must endure, including the possibility of incurring new obligations via spousal and child support.
Does divorce cost less when you "do it yourself" without an attorney? Yes. Is it wise to do it yourself without an attorney? No. Divorce is complex, particularly when children are involved, and the division of your family and marital property should be done under the guidance of a knowledgeable family law attorney. Doing it right the first time saves you divorce costs over the long haul and makes the process easier on everyone involved.