Among all of the issues that divorcing couples must deal with, alimony is one of the most volatile ones.
If you are the spouse who stayed at home or only worked occasionally to help raise your family, you likely need this type of support to start a new life. If you are the bread winning spouse in the home, you don’t want to pay more than you have to pay.
No matter which spouse you can relate to, the team at The Maine Divorce Group can help.
Types of spousal support in Maine
Under the Maine statutes, five basic types of spousal support can be awarded by a judge in the family court system:
Of the five types detailed above, transitional support is the most common in Maine and general support is the least common.
Some divorcing partners may be awarded interim or nominal support during the divorce proceedings, followed by general, transitional or reimbursement support when the final divorce decree is issued.
Learn More → Alimony Guide for Spousal Support in Maine
Who qualifies for spousal support in Maine?
Either a husband or a wife can request spousal support in Maine. The qualifying factor is not the gender of the individual but whether that individual can demonstrate a need for support and the other spouse can afford to pay it.
Judges in Maine do not simply punch numbers into an alimony formula. Before deciding on the type, duration, and amount of spousal support, they may consider the following factors:
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s ability to pay
- The spouses’ ages and employment history/prospects
- Each spouse’s income history/potential
- Each spouse’s education, training, retirement provisions, and health insurance benefits
- Whether marital/nonmarital property division during the divorce or child support has impacted the need for support
- The tax consequences for each spouse
- Each spouse’s contributions as a homemaker during the marriage
- Contributions by either spouse to the other’s education or earning potential
- Any financial misconduct during the marriage by either spouse
- The potential for the supported spouse to become self-supporting within a reasonable timeframe
Spouses are free to negotiate the terms of support out of court during the separation process. Providing it is fair to both spouses, the judge will then only need to approve it to make it legally enforceable.
How are spousal support payments made?
When spousal support orders are issued in Maine, they must specify not only the amount to be paid but the frequency, method, and duration of payments.
Alimony is typically paid by installments (monthly) but in some cases, such as when the paying spouse does not receive a regular paycheck, a lump-sum payment is more appropriate. A single, lump-sum payment may come from the paying spouse’s share of marital assets (property division).
When installments are ordered, the judge may also include an income withholding order so that payments are made automatically from the paying spouse’s paycheck.
Learn More → An Overview of Property Division in Maine
How long must alimony be paid in Maine?
The judge who reviews your spousal support case will specify the duration of alimony payments in the support order.
The most important factor when determining the duration of support is the length of the marriage.
While it varies according to the specific circumstances of each case, one year of support for every three years of marriage is frequently used as a guideline. Permanent alimony is rare.
If the recipient spouse remarries or cohabits with another partner, support may be terminated by a judge.
Can you modify a spousal support order in Maine?
Once a support order has been issued by the Maine courts, both parties are expected to abide by it.
However, situations do change. If there is a substantial change to the financial circumstances of either spouse (or both of them), an application can be made to modify the support order.
This is only granted in the case of a major change of circumstances, such as the loss of a job or a serious health problem. The Maine courts are reluctant to spend time reviewing cases that have already been adjudicated.
Spousal support and taxes in Maine
The federal tax laws concerning spousal support were recently reviewed. For divorces finalized after January 1, 2019, spousal support payments are not tax-deductible to the paying spouse or reportable income to the recipient
For divorces finalized before that date, the paying spouse can deduct payments and the recipient spouse must report and pay taxes on the income.
What happens if alimony isn’t paid?
Various enforcement measures can be applied in Maine if court-ordered payments of spousal support are not met.
Alimony arrears may be collected using the following measures:
- Filing a motion to Enforce
- Filing a motion for Contempt
In many cases, filing one of these motions is enough to get the non-paying party back on track. However, if not, the Court will conduct a hearing and determine if there were good grounds (or not) for the spouse to stop making payments.
Keep in mind that failure to comply with a court-issued spousal support order can result in a contempt of court charge against the payor. This may result in fines, payment of attorney fees, a lien being placed on property/bank accounts or in the most extreme of cases, even jail time.
What is alimony mediation?
Spouses can enter alimony mediation either to negotiate an alimony agreement during a divorce or to resolve issues with payments after a divorce.
Mediation is often preferable to taking the matter to a judge as the Maine courts are busy and contested issues like alimony and property division take up a considerable amount of court time.
Can alimony be waived by a prenuptial agreement?
A prenup agreement is a contract signed before marriage to set out the financial matters between two spouses.
Clauses that limit or waive rights to spousal support are commonly inserted in prenuptial agreements in Maine. However, they only stand up in the family court system if the prenup is drafted in accordance with Maine law.
Can alimony be collected if you’re not married?
Generally speaking, spousal support may be awarded when a legal marriage ends in Maine.
Common-law marriages, while recognized in other states as marriages, are not recognized in Maine. Unmarried partners are, therefore, considered unrelated individuals under Maine law and spousal support payments are not generally awarded by the courts.
Contact a spousal support lawyer at The Maine Divorce Group
At The Maine Divorce Group, many of our lawyers are skilled at uncovering assets and investigating during divorce cases.
We can ensure maximum fairness when it comes to spousal support. Whether you will be on the paying or receiving end of alimony, our attorneys know how stressful this determination can be.
When you hire one of our attorneys, we go to work, ensuring fairness in every aspect of your case.
We can help you negotiate alimony, or if necessary, we can take it before the judge and let the court make a ruling. Learn more about how we can help by contacting us today and scheduling your case review.