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Southern Maine Family Law Blog

How are parental rights and responsibilities handled in Maine?

If you’re going through a divorce and have children, you know that deciding parental rights and responsibilities can be one of the more contentious aspects between soon-to-be-ex-spouses. You’ve also likely heard the phrase “best interest of the child”.

Best interest refers to the factors a court will look at to determine parental rights and responsibilities between parents.

Avoid financial issues after divorce by getting informed

After a divorce, there is no surprise that your finances may have to change. You no longer have two incomes to work with, and you have to support yourself on your own. Your home may be twice as expensive without the support of a spouse, and you still have to cover all your own bills.

Before you go through a divorce, it's important to think about how a divorce will affect you financially once it's through. When you know how it will affect you, it's easier to make decisions during the divorce that will help you maintain balanced finances.

A fault-based divorce could be the right choice for you

Divorces are different in every state, and Maine is no exception. Maine has residency requirements, no-fault grounds for divorces and other grounds you can choose.

When a divorce places you in a negative position, you might want to opt for a fault-based divorce, especially if you've been wronged by your spouse. Some faults for divorce are simple, like adultery or cruelty. You should be able to prove these things with collected documents or photographs, for example.

What are the requirements to get divorced in Maine?

Much like any other state in the country, anyone wanting to divorce in Maine must meet certain eligibility requirements in order to file. These are outlined in the Maine Code Revised Title 19-A, Chapter 29: Divorce.

In order to be eligible to file for divorce in Maine, the plaintiff or defendant must actually reside within the state and have done so for a period of at least six months prior to filing their petition. The plaintiff or defendant must also have been married in the state or have lived in Maine when they decided to either separate from their spouse or initiate divorce proceedings.

Preparing your finances for an unexpected divorce isn't hard

There are two life events that can ruin your finances: a spouse's death and divorce. Unless you take steps to prepare for these, then you may find yourself grieving your loss while you're trying to find a way to get back on your feet financially once again. There are steps you can take to better prepare for events such as these though.

By the time one of these events occurs, it's too late to ask about what accounts exist and how to access them. This is why it's important for you to take an inventory of that information every six months while your relationship is going strong. If you keep track of the account numbers, online logins and passwords along the way, then you'll have ready access to them should your spouse file for divorce or pass away.

Many factors influence how custody is awarded in Maine

In Maine, family law judges are responsible for making decisions that they determine to be in a child's best interests. While state laws are written where it shouldn't matter whether the child's gender is aligned with that of the parent requesting custody, there are other factors that shape custody decisions.

A judge may consider the strength of the relationship that exists between parent and child. If they're 12 or older, a judge may even ask them about their own preferences with respect to with whom they want to reside.

How is credit-card debt handled during a divorce?

Oftentimes, conversations about property division during a divorce center around how couples will split up their home, car and other valuable assets. These conversations rarely center around how liabilities, such as credit-card debt, will be handled once the two of you go your separate ways. It's a discussion that the two of you will want to have, though, if you're planning to maintain your creditworthiness.

While many pieces of property can be split up in a divorce decree, credit card companies couldn't care less about what it says. All they care about is holding the cardholder accountable for paying back the debt that they owe.

Joint custody: Children’s best interests and parental duties

Divorces involving child custody may prove confusing to both parents and children. In Maine, a standard exists that unless one spouse’s circumstances harm the health or safety of children involved, a court will determine that the awarding of joint custody lies in the best interest of children of separating parents.

After determining the best interests of the individual children, a judge will decide the duties and responsibilities that each parent must maintain if awarded joint custody. Doing so, a court can establish a schedule of allowed contact, so that each parent can refer to the court-ordered document if disputes arise. When dealing with child custody, even if a judge leans toward awarding you and your ex-spouse joint custody, you want to hire an experienced family law attorney to help you in filing all necessary documents and receiving maximum custody allowances by the court.

How to foster a good relationship between your child and your ex

As a custodial parent, it's partially your job to foster a good relationship between your child and your ex-spouse -- even if you can't stand your ex.

Believe it or not, the court expects custodial parents to go out of their way to make it possible for non-custodial parents to have a good relationship with their children. If you don't make the effort, you could end up finding yourself on the losing end of a custody battle.

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