Family Legal Separation
Lawyers in Maine

Family Legal Separation in Maine

Unfortunately, not all marriages work. And that’s okay. However, couples should understand that divorce is not the only option on the table. At The Main Divorce Group, we help spouses part ways on their terms — whether through traditional divorce or legal separation.

Our compassionate attorneys explain the advantages of each method, guiding you towards a new future at every turn.

If you are considering a divorce or separation in Maine, the following information can help you make an informed decision.

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What is the difference between divorce and legal separation in Maine?

When marriages fail, many couples are quick to choose divorce. However, for some families, legal separation may be the better option.

The divorce process begins when one spouse files a petition for divorce with their local court. You and your spouse must then resolve issues such as child custody, property division, and spousal support. Should you fail to agree on these issues, the judge will step in and resolve any contested matters in accordance with Maine’s divorce laws. Once your divorce is finalized, the court terminates your marriage, and you are legally free to remarry.

Legal separation is like divorce in many ways. First, the process begins with a petition for judicial separation. Additionally, you and your spouse must determine how you plan on resolving the same issues listed above.

You are even free to live separate lives — you can date, relocate, and buy/sell property as an unmarried individual. However, ultimately, you and your spouse are still legally married. If either spouse wishes to remarry, they must petition the court to convert the legal separation into a divorce. Alternatively, couples looking to reconcile their differences can also reverse their separation.

Why do couples choose to separate rather than to divorce in Maine?

Family Separation Services in MaineMarriages are complicated affairs. A legal separation provides a limbo environment where a couple can determine if their relationship is salvageable. Spouses can live apart to gain space and clarity. Further, many couples use legal separations to seek counseling or advice from family and friends.

And, depending on a couple’s health insurance policy, a legal separation can maintain medical coverage that would cease after divorce.

Some of the most common reasons that couples in Maine choose legal separation over divorce, include:

  • Divorce is wrong for your family, but you and your spouse want to live separate lives under a legal separation agreement.
  • Your religious beliefs prohibit you from divorcing.
  • You want a test-run for divorce.
  • You or your spouse has accrued federal tax or other benefits that a divorce would terminate.

Every marriage has its own challenges. If you think legal separation may be right for you, contact The Maine Divorce Group today for more information.

Legal separations, otherwise known as judicial separations in Maine, can be filed if you’ve lived apart from your spouse for at least 60 continuous days.

You or your spouse can request separation alone, or you may file together. To decide the terms of your agreement, the court may require you to attend mediation — an informal session with a third-party mediator where you resolve issues like child custody, alimony, and property division.

Also, according to 19-A M.R.S.A. § 851, the court can delegate parental responsibilities and rights, order child support, and/or spousal support, and divide marital property and debt.

Before filing for legal separation, ensure you meet the residency requirements below:

  • You or your spouse must have lived in Maine for at least 6 months before filing.
  • You live in and were married in Maine.
  • You live in Maine, and you and your spouse lived in the state when you separated, or
  • Your spouse resides in Maine. (19-A M.R.S.A. § 901.).

Lastly, you must list a legal reason for your separation. Fortunately, Maine is a no-fault divorce state which allows you to cite irreconcilable differences to file for divorce or judicial separation.

What is a trial separation?

In Maine, a judicial separation, while not a divorce, is a still a formal legal action. For struggling couples that do not want to involve the courts, a trial separation may be the answer.

Basically, you and your spouse live apart for a set time to determine if your marriage is beyond repair. You can consult an attorney about drafting an informal agreement.

Then, if you and your spouse wish to separate or divorce, the document can be converted to suit your needs.

How will separation affect child custody?

The primary concern of the family court is the best interests of children. Thus, no matter what type of legal action you seek — judicial separation or divorce — if you have children, the court may request an investigation to determine the best parenting plan for your family.

In determining whether one or both parents should have custody of and visitation with the children, the court will consider numerous factors:

  • The child’s age
  • The child’s relationship with each parent and anyone else who may affect the child’s welfare
  • The duration and stability of the child’s current living situation
  • The stability of any proposed living arrangements
  • Each parent’s ability to give the child love, affection, and guidance
  • The child’s adjustment to his or her present home, school, and community
  • Each parent’s willingness to encourage frequent contact between the child and the other parent
  • Each parent’s ability to cooperate or learn to cooperate in child care
  • Each parent’s methods for parental cooperation and resolving disputes, and willingness to use those methods
  • The effect on the child if one parent has sole authority over the child’s upbringing
  • Whether either parent has a history of domestic abuse or child abuse
  • Whether either parent has lied about abuse to gain an advantage in the custody proceedings
  • If the child is under one year of age, whether one parent is breastfeeding the child
  • Whether either parent or a person living in either parent’s household has been convicted of a sex offense
  • The child’s custodial preference, if the child is old enough to have a meaningful opinion, and
  • Any other factors the court deems relevant to custody. (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 19-A, § 1653 (3).)

Whether you are considering a divorce or separation, consulting with an experienced attorney can help you plan for your family’s future.

Contact The Maine Divorce Group today

Our team of experienced divorce lawyers is here to provide you with personalized legal guidance every step of the way.

Call 207-230-6597 or contact us online to schedule a consult with one of our highly skilled family law attorneys today.

Call 207-230-6884 or contact us online to schedule a consult with one of our highly skilled family law attorneys today.

We serve many clients, just like you, across Maine in Cumberland, York, Sagadahoc, & Lincoln Counties.


Contact The Maine Divorce Group today


Divorce is a highly emotional and stressful experience for most people. But you don’t have to face this challenge alone. Having a strong divorce attorney in your corner can help ensure that you and your children walk away from this process with the best opportunities available for future success and happiness.