Maine Uncontested Divorce

This information is an overview of the uncontested Maine divorce filing process and a summary of the divorce papers that are typically filed with the family law or domestic relations clerk. This overview is not intended to be an exact step-by-step guide for those "do it yourself divorce" filers, due to the fact that many cases are unique and the overview presented here is often not the only method of obtaining an uncontested divorce in Maine.

To file for a divorce in Maine, either spouse must be a resident of the state, or the grounds for the action must have happened in Maine. If not, the filing spouse must be a resident of Maine for six months immediately prior to filing. The action may be filed in the District Court in the county where either spouse resides; however, the defendant spouse has the right to move the action to the state Superior Court.

Grounds for divorce are No-Fault, which means "[i]rreconcilable marital difficulties"; and general grounds that include 1) impotence, 2) adultery, 3) alcoholism and/or drug addiction, 4) confinement for incurable insanity for seven years, 5) desertion for three years, 6) cruelty or abuse, 7) nonsupport "whereby a spouse is able to provide support but grossly, wantonly and cruelly neglects to provide suitable maintenance for the complaining spouse."

Actions are filed in the District Court of the county or the Superior Court. The filing spouse is called the Plaintiff; the responding spouse is called the Defendant.

Legal separations are granted if the spouses are or desire to live apart with just cause for more than 60 days, but when minor children are involved, the court may order mediation between the spouses.

When a divorce is not contested, corroborating testimony is not required in divorce actions.

Indigent Plaintiffs or Defendants may file a CV-067, Application to Proceed Without Payment of Fees, and a CR-032, Indigency Affidavit, which may exempt him or her from payment of some or all fees associated with the action.

To file for divorce in a marriage with no children, the Plaintiff must file the following forms:

> FM-002, Confidential Family Matter Sheet, which identifies the parties and the type of action;

> FM-005, Complaint for Divorce (no minor children), which lists the ground for the action and the type of relief sought;

> CV-038, a Family Matter Summons and Preliminary Injunction, which must be obtained in person from the clerk at the time of the filing and which informs the Defendant that the action has begun, enjoins him or her from dissipating marital assets, and gives him or her 20 days to file an Answer;

> CV-036, Acknowledgement of Receipt of Summons and Complaint or Post-Judgment Motion, which acknowledges the Defendant’s receipt of service and establishes that he or she will participate in the case;

> FM-052, Federal Affidavit, which attests to the fact that the Defendant is not in the military and protected by the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act, and which must be filed if he or she fails to file an answer or enter an appearance;

> FM-043, Financial Statement, which is completed by both parties and details the finances of each. This form is used when the spouses disagree about the division and distribution of the marital estate or alimony. If either party owns real estate, the spouses must complete a CV-056, Certificate Regarding Real Estate, so that the title to the land will be clear after the divorce.

The Defendant must be served a copy of the Complaint and Summons. This can be done in one of three ways:

> By Mail, in which case he or she signs the Acknowledgement of Receipt of Summons and Complaint within 20 days and returns it to the Plaintiff, or if this does not work;

> By Certified Mail, Return Receipt, Restricted Delivery, in which case he or she signs the green card certifying delivery; or

> By Sheriff, in which case he or she completes the second page of the Summons and thus certifies Proof of Service.

If the Defendant cannot be located or will not accept Service of Process, the Plaintiff may serve him or her by publication. To do this, the Plaintiff must prepare these forms: > CV-072, Motion for Service by Publication and Affidavit, which describes the Plaintiff’s effort to located the missing spouse;

> CV-144, Order for Service by Publication, which is signed by the judge and permits the Plaintiff to advertise the legal action in a newspaper;

> A cover letter to the newspaper selected to publish the notice of the action;

> A CV-73, Verification, completed by the newspaper attesting to the publication.

Publication must begin within 20 days of the date of the order. The notice is published once a week for three consecutive weeks. The verification of publication is returned to the Plaintiff. The Defendant has 21 days to answer the notice, after which a hearing on the action is held, usually 60 days later on a default decree.

To file for divorce in a marriage with children, the Plaintiff must file the following:

> FM-004, Complaint for Divorce (with children);

> FM-040, Child Support Worksheet, which shows the calculations by which child support is determined;

> FM-050, Child Support Affidavit, which stipulates the terms and conditions of child support.

The Defendant is served in the same way as in a marriage without children except that he or she also receives a copy of the Child Support Affidavit along with the Compliant and the Summons and Preliminary Injunction.

Upon receiving the divorce papers, the Defendant may file the following:

> FM-020, Entry of an Appearance, by which he or she states his or her claims in issues including parental rights and responsibilities, alimony, child support, attorney’s fees and division and distribution of marital property; or

> An Answer and Counterclaim for Divorce, by which he or she agrees or disagrees with all or some of the allegations in the Complaint.

If there are no disputes about the marital estate, the Defendant may file an FM-042, Certificate in Lieu of Financial Statement, which attests that neither party is seeking alimony, attorney’s fees; that neither owns real estate and that all personal property has been divided to the satisfaction of both parties, and action may move along in a uncontested way.

If there are issues involving minor children involved, the Defendant may instead file the following: > An Answer and Counterclaim for Parental Rights and Responsibilities, in which he or she asserts his or her claims about his or her rights and responsibilities in regard to the children.

About two weeks after the Defendant has been served and the papers have been filed, the court schedules a Case Management Conference before a Family Law Magistrate.

Normally, when children are involved, the Case Management Conference involves the following:

> Interim arrangements for children, including residence, parent/child visitation, insurance, child support, interims responsibility for debt and interim spousal support;

> Issues in dispute;

> Deadlines for moving the case to resolution, including any discovery and mediation;

> Payment of fees, including mediation fees.

Normally, in cases of divorces without children, the action moves forward without any steps involving the Family Law Magistrate. If the couple come to an agreement, the spouses can file an FM-054, Certificate in Lieu of Case Management Conference, and the action can move along toward a final hearing.

If the parties have not reached agreement, the court may order mediation, after which it may hold a status conference, followed by a second round of mediation, after which the case can move a number of trajectories. If after mediation, the couple comes to an agreement on all issues, a magistrate’s hearing is scheduled and after a few questions and a review of the agreement a final divorce order is decreed. Or this may be followed by a pretrial conference and a final hearing, which is the last step in the action unless either party files an appeal within 21 days of the judge’s or magistrate’s order in the case.