If you and your ex-spouse part ways on good terms, there is a better chance that your divorce will escape a court battle.
All divorces in Maine require some court intervention – a judge needs to sign the divorce decree. However, if you and your spouse agree on all the main issues and proceed as an uncontested divorce, the expense, stress levels and time it takes to complete should all be on your side.
A popular misconception is that uncontested divorces do not require lawyers. While that may be the case, sometimes even uncontested divorces benefit from expert legal guidance.
An uncontested divorce happens in one of two ways in Maine:
In most cases with uncontested divorces, papers are not “served” and the parties file the paperwork jointly. Two spouses agree on all the main aspects of the separation and are prepared to sign an agreement to that effect.
To reach this stage, you must agree on the following issues:
These are big topics and many divorces hit major road-bumps when addressing them.
In an uncontested divorce, these issues are all resolved between the spouses so that the only requirement of the courts is for a judge to approve the separation agreement or settlement and issue the final decree.
If you can accomplish this, congratulations! Your divorce will go through relatively quickly and you can both move on with your lives separately.
The judge may schedule a final uncontested divorce hearing to finalize the case – but not necessarily. You may not even need to appear in court.
However, many couples discover that what was agreed around the kitchen table is another matter when it comes to signing the agreement. This can create delays and difficulties and sometimes the intervention of lawyers or mediators is required to create a fair and legally enforceable settlement.
Also, while DIY and online divorces have become more popular, the stakes in divorces are usually very high – for one’s finances as well as one’s relationships.
If you cannot be sure that your interests are looked after in the agreement and that the judge will approve it, a lawyer can assist.
Many couples find that drafting a fair divorce agreement that the judge will approve is not as straightforward as they first thought. The guidance, expertise and advice of one of our experienced Maine divorce lawyers can help in this situation.
There are several basic requirements before your divorce application can proceed in Maine.
Firstly, you must have valid grounds (a legal reason) for divorce. In most uncontested divorce cases, “irreconcilable differences” are cited, meaning the marriage cannot be repaired and it is nobody’s fault.
However, there are other fault-based grounds for divorce in Maine frequently cited in contested divorces, such as:
You or your spouse must also meet one of the following residency requirements before filing for divorce in Maine. The filing spouse is called the plaintiff and the responding spouse is called the defendant.
The Maine court system follows a well-defined process with divorces.
Firstly, you need to file your divorce paperwork in the family division of the district court in the county where you or your spouse live. Filing in the wrong place may mean you have to start all over again.
To avoid delays, it’s important to file the correct paperwork with the court. The following forms are required in Maine for a divorce with no children:
Other forms are required if you have children:
You will need to have the following information ready to complete the paperwork:
If you have most of this at hand, you should be in a good position to complete most of the paperwork required – your lawyer can help you.
Once you have filed the papers and paid the fees, the divorce process starts through the Maine courts.
With an uncontested divorce (where papers are filed together rather than a plaintiff filing against a defendant), a judge may be able to grant the divorce relatively quickly. This only applies if you have filed the correct forms and demonstrated that you and your spouse meet the requirements and agree on all the main issues.
Sometimes, an uncontested divorce hearing is required before the decree can be signed but this is up to the judge’s discretion.
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The attorneys at The Maine Divorce Group understand how emotional and complex the divorce process can be and we are here to help.
Call to speak with a member of our team today, who can discuss your case and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys.
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