Should You Hire a Maine Divorce Lawyer?
Most divorces have many complexities and nuances. Even if you are facing the simplest of divorces, it is highly likely that you could benefit from the services of a skilled lawyer. Hiring an attorney to protect your interests should be your first step if your divorce involves any of the following:
Before You File for Divorce in Maine
Divorce is not a decision to be taken lightly, nor is it something you should jump into if you are not legally prepared.
When you meet with one of our attorneys at the Maine Divorce Group, we can help you prepare for filing a divorcee petition and ensure that you meet all the requirements for filing a divorce in this state.
With the assistance of a qualified attorney, your preparation can increase the chances of outcomes in your favor. Depending on your specific circumstances, your attorney may recommend the following before you file for divorce:
- Collect essential records such as financial statements, tax returns, your prenuptial agreement, and insurance policies
- Inventory your physical, real, and investment property to help identify property that is part of the marital estate and property that is not
- Remain in your family home or if you intend to leave, discuss your plans with your Maine family law attorney first
- Think about the needs of your children
- Secure your digital accounts and information so that your spouse cannot find incriminating evidence to use against you
- Open your own financial accounts, however, talk to your lawyer before moving money around from joint accounts
The Divorce Process in Maine
1. Making a Decision to Divorce
No one, not even an attorney, should tell you whether divorce is the right decision or not. Divorce is a personal decision, one that many choose to discuss with their friends, family, mentors, religious leaders, and therapists.
If and when you do conclude that divorce is the right step, you or you and your spouse will need to make a decision.Will you utilize the collaborative divorce process or proceed with a contested divorce case? If you choose the latter, continue to the next step.
2. Find an Attorney
When the decision to get divorced is made, you should contact a Maine family law attorney as soon as possible. You may have questions such as if a divorce makes legal sense in your situation, and your lawyer can inform you of any steps you need to take before filing.
Choosing the right lawyer is a decision that will determine how your divorce ends. Do your research and make sure you ultimately hire a lawyer that you feel comfortable with.
After all, you will be working with them for some time, and they will know many personal details of your life.
3. Begin the Divorce
Once you retain an attorney, they will collect information and enlist your help to prepare the initial filings. Your divorce case officially begins once your Maine family law attorney files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Your spouse will then be served with divorce papers.
4. File Financial Paperwork/Child Support Affidavits
You and your attorney will need to complete a financial affidavit, as well as a child support affidavit, in cases involving children.
The court cannot rule on any financial issues within the divorce, such as spousal maintenance and child support until these have been submitted, nor can the parties engage in the financial discovery process until those forms have been submitted.
We will also receive the same from your spouse. At which point, we can begin to assess many of the financial issues in your divorce.
5. Case Management Conference
A case management conference is a hearing involving the judge, attorneys, and you and your spouse.
Getting your case moving forward is the purpose of such a conference. The judge will want to know what you and your spouse agree and disagree about and if there is any possibility of quickly settling the case.
The court will then issue a scheduling order with deadlines for important case milestones such as conducting discovery, noticing of expert witnesses, depositions, etc.
6. Attend Mediation
In Maine, the law mandates that if you have children under 18, both you and your spouse must attempt mediation. If there are no children involved, mediation can still take place if both parties request it.
Court-hired mediators do not provide legal advice. Instead, they help spouses compromise and resolve disputes on specific issues.
Mediation is a great way to keep down the costs of divorce, which can increase when one or both parties want to litigate every issue at trial.
7. Trial or Settlement
Your divorce will likely either end with a settlement or a court-ordered solution. Most of the time, it is better to settle as you will have more control over the outcome. However, you should discuss this at length with your Maine family lawyer.
Settlements should not be agreed upon if one spouse is giving into everything the other spouse wants. Your attorney can help you understand the benefits and drawbacks of going to trial.
8. The Final Divorce Decision
By state law, the minimum amount of time before the court can grant a final divorce is sixty days from the day the summons and complaint were served on the other party. It is not uncommon for the divorce process to last many months, especially if children are involved.
Once you and your spouse have resolved your disputes in mediation or the judge has ruled on your case, your final divorce decree will be issued.
The Maine Divorce Group Can Help
When one or both parties during the divorce process have unrealistic goals, or they haven’t worked through the emotional issues surrounding the initial separation, such as feelings of betrayal, disloyalty, anger, and resentment, it prevents them from reaching the ultimate goal – to break free from an unhappy marriage and move on with their life.
Perhaps there are children involved that you’ll both need to co-parent effectively. We can help.
When both parties want to separate amicably, we can help resolve your case efficiently. If this is not the situation, rest assured, you are hiring a law firm that can handle the litigation aspect as well as the negotiation aspect.
We can see you in our Kennebunk or Portland offices and work with clients throughout the state of Maine. Contact us today to schedule a private, one on one meeting via phone, video or in person.
Contact The Maine Divorce Group today to schedule your consultation.