What Are Maine's Alimony Laws?
When a couple divorces, one party may be entitled to receive support from the other party even if children are not involved. This is called alimony or spousal support. In Maine, spousal support laws are covered in subchapter 2 of Maine's divorce law (Chapter 29) for spousal support and property rights. The general purpose of spousal support is to make sure that, when a divorce is granted, one party is not left in financial disrepair. Often in marriages, one spouse will choose to work less or stay home while the other earns income. When they separate, lawmakers do not always feel that the party who gave up their career for the marriage should suffer all the financial consequences.
Under Maine law section 951-A.5, the court will consider all of the following factors when determining whether or not to award spousal support:
- How long the couple was married
- Each spouse's ability to pay spousal support
- The age of each spouse
- Each spouse's employment history and career potential
- The income history and earnings potential of each spouse
- Each spouse's education and training level
- The provisions for retirement and health insurance benefits for each spouse
- The tax consequences each spouse will face given their share of marital property
- Whether either spouse has health problems or disabilities
- The tax consequences of receiving or paying spousal support
- Either spouse's contribution as a homemaker
- Either spouse's contribution towards the education or earning potential of the other
- "Economic misconduct" that either spouse committed resulting in financial loss during the marriage
- The standard of living of the couple during their marriage
- Whether or not the spouse receiving support will be able to become self-supporting within "a reasonable period of time"
Additionally, the court will also look at factors such as income received from property that was not involved in the divorce or child support. If there any other additional factors that the court finds appropriate, these will be considered as well. In order to make sure that you get the results you want regarding spousal support, make sure that you have an experienced divorce attorney on your side regardless of what method you decide to settle your divorce.
Types of Spousal Support in Maine
When the court takes into consideration all of the above factors, they will issue an order denying or granting support. This order must include:
- Whether support is awarded, and if so, what type
- The method for paying the support order, if the order is approved
- If the order may be subject to future modifications
- What factors were considered and ultimately lead to the order being approved or denied
There are several types of support that they can award. The purpose of spousal support is not to punish or reward one party but rather to help everyone involved live a productive and stable life. For this reason, the court has options to determine what kind of spousal support would be most beneficial to all parties. Under Maine law section 951-A .2, the types of spousal support are listed as the following:
General support – This type of support is financial assistance paid from one spouse to another to help the spouse with a lower earning potential maintain a reasonable standard of living after the couple divorces. In some cases, the court may rule that only couples who have been married 10 years or more are entitled general support. Additionally, couples that are married at least 10 years but not more than 20 years may only be subject to a period of general support less than half the length of the marriage. This means that couples who are married 20 years or more are the only ones that are subject to ongoing general support orders.
Transitional support – This type of support occurs when the court rules that one party should provide financial assistance for the other's transitional needs including short-term needs that occur immediately after the divorce and financial assistance for reentering or advancing in their career such as vocational training or school.
Reimbursement support – This type of support is more of a way for one party to repay debts to the other party. It can include repayment for any economic misconduct committed by one spouse or reimbursement for "substantial contributions" the other spouse made towards their education or career advancements.
Nominal support – When the court sees a need to order spousal support, but the party does not currently have the funds to afford to pay, they can award a nominal amount of support. This is a way to establish a support order that can be changed in the future.
Intern support – This is temporary support while a divorce or separation is pending.
Modifying or Enforcing a Maine Spousal Support Order
Under Maine law, section §951-A.4, spousal support awarded before October 1, 2013 is “subject to modification when it appears that justice requires unless and to the extent the order awarding or modifying spousal support expressly states that the award, in whole or in part, is not subject to future modification.” After this date, awards do not contain this phrase and will be subject to modification as needed.
Maine Spousal Support Lawyer
The laws regarding spousal support in Maine are very strict. Once a final judgment has been made to end or deny spousal support, an order can never be brought again. This means that once spousal support payments are ordered to stop, financial support will not be available again even if circumstances change. Additionally, support can be terminated when it is shown that that recipient and another party have entered into a marriage or a "supportive relationship that is the functional equivalent of marriage” for at least 12 months.
The spousal support process can be confusing and, at times, overwhelming. A Maine divorce attorney can help you with all of your spousal support and alimony needs. Whether you are looking to receive support, modifying an existing support order or are being petitioned for spousal support, we can help you.