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Does Adultery affect Alimony During Separation and Divorce in Maine?

Nov 5, 2021

Does Adultery affect Alimony During Separation and Divorce in Maine?

Adultery affects on Alimony During Separation and Divorce in Maine

You may be considering divorce, or your partner has now suggested separation.  Regardless of circumstance, understanding the bigger picture of divorce in Maine can work to your benefit—especially if you have questions about the faithfulness of your spouse.

Divorce is the process of dissolving a legally recognized relationship.  Each couple who divorces must come to agreement about aspects of their life together such as division of assets and debt, spousal support, child support and child custody.  If you are divorcing with minor children, the course of your divorce will include important agreements around parenting decisions and where your child will reside.

In Maine, the reasons you give for getting divorced can be based on fault or no-fault.  A couple can state they have irreconcilable differences which have caused the marital relationship to break down.  Adultery is just one of several fault-based grounds for divorce.  Others include cruelty, desertion, substance abuse, among others.

In terms of time, once you initiate a divorce filing in Maine, there is a minimum 60-day waiting period before a final order will be issued, assuming the paperwork is in order.

Divorce basics in Maine

Let’s take a closer look at the fundamental agreements that must be made during divorce:

Dividing the marital estate:  Whether or not you have children, you and your partner must come to agreement about how you will divide wealth, property, and debt accumulated during the course of your marriage.  In terms of dividing your assets, Maine is an equitable distribution state.

This means that the Court looks favorably on agreements that split wealth and property fairly, but not always on a clean 50/50 split. If you have considerable or complicated assets, speaking with an experienced divorce attorney is important—especially if you and your spouse are not able to come to agreement.

Even if you and your partner are able to sit down at the kitchen table and draw out a plan for division of your wealth and debt, seek legal guidance before you sign any agreement.

Child support and child custody:  Making good agreements around parenting rights and responsibilities is crucial to the well-being of your children.  Research repeats itself that children who are not subjected to high conflict during the divorce of their parents fare better in the long term than children who are subjected to protracted, litigated custody battles.

While it takes two people to agree to marry, it takes only one spouse to make a very difficult divorce.  The State of Maine expects both parents, married or unmarried, to financially support their children. Child support is calculated through analysis of the income capabilities of each parent.

If you find negotiation and mediation are not effective tools for coming to terms with your partner, an experienced child custody attorney can provide guidance and strategies to assist you throughout the process.

Spousal support:  In Maine, spousal support, or alimony, is financial assistance provided to one or the other spouse during separation and divorce. Alimony is often a difficult topic to agree upon during divorce.  Despite years spent together tending a marriage and family, the payment or award of financial support can provoke bitter arguments.

There are different types of alimony that can be awarded in Maine, which include:

  • General support: Courts may provide general alimony for a period of time to assist a spouse with lower income.  This type of alimony applies to couples married over ten years and can be time limited by the court.
  • Transitional support: This type of alimony is provided to a partner to assist them “get back on their feet,” through job training or education.
  • Reimbursement support: Less commonly provided than other types of alimony, reimbursement support may be awarded to one partner due to extraordinary circumstances. This might include a spouse who worked to allow their partner to gain higher education or career advancement, or to compensate for a partner who was economically abused by their spouse.
  • Interim support: During the pendency of a divorce, the Court may award one spouse financial support.

When determining an alimony award, the Court takes into account many factors.  Some of those factors include the length of the marriage, the physical and mental health of the parties, contributions made by each party to the marriage—whether working inside or outside the home—and the earning and career capabilities of each spouse, among other factors.

Unlike child support, which is calculated by formula, alimony is determined by the Court.  When entered as part of a divorce decree, unpaid alimony accrues and is subject to garnishment and other collection efforts.  Spousal support awards terminate when the partner receiving support remarries or commences living with another partner.

What’s adultery got to do with it?

In Maine, adultery is a ground for a fault-based divorce.  This means that if you or your partner was unfaithful during marriage, that fact can be used to press a petition for divorce.

A divorce that is fault-based, such as for adultery or desertion, is not treated significantly different by the courts than a divorce that is brought for irreconcilable differences.  During a divorce proceeding, adultery is not considered by the Court when making a spousal support award or child support.  As well, adultery, even if admitted, does not impact the parental rights or responsibilities of either spouse.

If one partner commits “economic abuse,” such as running up credit cards, or spending significant money while pursuing an adulterous affair—the Court can compensate the financially disadvantaged party with reimbursement alimony.

Knowledge of the law and the process around divorce in Maine can help you adjust expectations and understand what is ahead.  When you have questions about alimony, separation, or child custody—speak with a trusted divorce attorney to answer questions about your individual circumstances.

Experienced divorce lawyer helps you with alimony in Maine

With almost two decades of successful experience with divorce and family law, the Maine Divorce Group is an established law firm that will fight for the best interests of you and your family.

Whether you are interested in the collaborative divorce process or believe your divorce could be contested, we provide seasoned representation with separation, child custody, and all facets of divorce.

Reach out to us online or contact us today at 207-618-6220.

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