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Preparing the Documents
In Maine, divorce papers come in packets for couples with children and for couples without children.
The plaintiff, who is the party desiring the divorce, completes the divorce paperwork; the defendant, who is the other spouse, accepts the paperwork and responds to the complaint.
The divorce paperwork includes:
Filing the Paperwork with the Court
Divorcing spouses file a complaint for divorce in the Maine Superior Court or in the Maine District Court in the county where either spouse lives.
A person filing for divorce must be a resident for the six months immediately prior to the filing. These requirements, known as the residency or jurisdictional requirements, can be found in the Maine statutes at 19-A M.R.S.A. 901.
Serving the Documents
The plaintiff must give the defendant copies of the divorce papers, including one copy of the Complaint, one copy of the Summons and Preliminary Injunction, one copy of the Child Support Affidavit, two copies of the Acknowledgment of Receipt of Summons and Complaint (after completion of the caption), and a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
Service of process can be accomplished in one of three ways:
The Acknowledgment of Receipt form asks the other spouse to sign it, showing he or she got the papers, and to return the form within 20 days.
Disclosing Financial Information
If the spouses disagree about spousal support or how to divide the marital estate, each must complete a financial disclosure form. The original is filed with the clerk and a copy is provided to the other spouse. This must be done by the date listed in the Scheduling Order. The other spouse must also file one of these forms and give the plaintiff a copy. If there is no dispute about personal property, real estate, spousal support or attorney's fees, the plaintiff files a Certificate in Lieu of Financial Statement. The original is filed with the clerk and a copy is sent to other spouse.
If either spouse owns real estate, he or she must provide the court with information about it in order to make sure that the title to the real estate will be clear after the divorce. The party, or parties, use the Certificate Regarding Real Estate (FM-056). He or she, or both, complete the form and return it to the court clerk before the court hearing.
Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce
Within two weeks after the filing, the Court notifies the spouse of a case management conference at the Court. The parties should read all of the papers from the Court, including Important Information Regarding Case Management Conference.
If it is an uncontested divorce, and both spouses agree on temporary arrangements for the children, such as where they will stay, visits with the other parent, and how they will be supported, they may complete and file a form called Certificate in Lieu of Case Management Conference. The court clerk provides this form, and both spouses must both sign the certificate. The parties may not have to go to the case management conference if they file the certificate before the conference date. The Court sends a notice in the mail if they do not need to go to the conference.
Finalizing the Divorce
The divorce hearing cannot take place until at least 60 days from the date that the defendant - the spouse that has to respond to the initial divorce paperwork - is served with a summons and complaint for divorce. After that, the speed of the action through the courts depends upon whether or not the spouses agree on the issues, or whether they battle it out in a full-blown divorce trial.
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Maine distributes property equitably, but this does not necessarily mean equally. The court takes several factors into account including the length of the marriage, each spouse's contribution to the property and economic circumstances among other things. Property acquired after a legal separation, gifted or inherited property, and any property a spouse may have had provisions for beforehand, is not included.
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