Divorce in Maine
Divorces can be hotly contested, emotional, and at times overwhelmingly complex. Therefore it is always a good idea to consult with and hire an attorney before venturing into the family courts. Even if you expect your divorce to be "amicable," it is still wise to hire a lawyer, as the issues may easily become complicated.
Hiring an attorney to represent you in a divorce matter is the best way to protect your rights. An experienced family law attorney will be able to act as your guide through the legal system and advocate for your interests. Divorces are high stakes matters that can affect your income, your property, and your parental rights.
Major Legal Issues
In the same way that no two people are alike, the same goes for divorces. Each case is different and presents its own challenges. On the grand scale, however, the legal issues relevant to a divorce fit into certain broad categories.
- Distribution of property (including real estate, cash, retirement accounts, vehicles, personal possessions, etc.)
- Parental Rights and Responsibilities;
- Primary Residence of Minor Children;
- Parent/child contact schedules;
- Child Support; and
- Spousal Support
Your case may even be further complicated by matters pertaining to domestic violence, sexual abuse, stalking, child alienation, or substance abuse.
Each case has its own complications, and without an attorney to support, advise, and advocate on your behalf, you are increasing the risk of an unjust outcome. It is highly recommend that you hire an attorney to assist you in your divorce. There is simply no replacement for the aid of a professional when something needs to be done right.
Divorces in Maine begin with filing a Complaint for Divorce and serving the complaint on the opposing party. Your lawyer can accomplish filing and service for you with minimal effort on your part. You will of course, however, first need to meet with your attorney to give him or her as much information about your situation as you cant. At your first intake meeting you can expect to discuss your situation in detail to include financial information (income, assets, debts, etc.), your children if you have any, the reason for your divorce, and any other details that your lawyer may feel is relevant in your scenario.
After filing and service is complete, a scheduling conference will be ordered when your attorney will work with the Court to identify the issues relevant to your case. Afterwards, the discovery phase will begin. During discovery, each party will serve documents on each other that essentially inquire into the person's finances relevant to the distribution of property, income, or supporting any minor children. Your attorney will help you to identify what information needs to be sought from the other side and how to answer the questions served on you by the other side. This portion of the process always has the potential for causing a great deal of conflict.
Next, you will proceed to mediation. With the help of your attorney, you will attempt to negotiate a settlement agreement with the opposing party. An experienced family attorney will be able to assess the fairness of any proposed deal, ensure you are not giving up any rights you are entitled to, and will aid you in attempting to find points of agreement between you and your soon to be ex-spouse. If you do not wish to see the opposing party at this time, then you don't have to. Your lawyer can handle dealing with the other side for you.
If a settlement is not reached, the next step is to proceed to a trial, which you may hear referred to just as a final hearing. In family court there is no jury and the trial happens before a judge or family law magistrate. Through your lawyer you may call witnesses, present exhibits, and make arguments for your position. The judge or magistrate will then decide what to do based on the evidence presented and issue a final order which will be binding on the parties. Trials are rare in comparison to settlements, but they do happen. They can be very complex and require a great deal of preparation, know-how, and hard work. It is highly recommend that you do not conduct a trial on your own.
Call for Representation
The attorneys at Conley & Wirick help Mainers seeking a divorce every day. We take matters that affect you and your family very seriously and we pride ourselves on our ability to help people. If your are looking to file for divorce or if your spouse has already filed for divorce feel free to give us a call and we would be happy to be of service to you.