Does Maine Recognize Alimony Or Spousal Support Awards In A Divorce?
Maine’s spousal support statute creates certain legal presumptions governing an award of spousal support. The statute provides for several factors a court is required to take into consideration. The primary fundamental question is whether or not there is a substantial difference in the parties’ respective earning capacities. If there is no substantial difference in the parties’ earning capacities, then there would be no spousal support awarded to either party. If there is a substantial difference, then the court would look at other factors to determine whether or not spousal support is appropriate.
In general, spousal support will not be awarded if a marriage is less than 10 years, regardless of how substantial the difference between incomes. The law presumes that if the parties were married for 10 to 20 years, then spousal support will be awarded for a term of half the length of the marriage. If the parties were married for 20 years or more, then the law would provide for general spousal support for an undetermined period of time.
Maine law also recognizes transitional spousal support, which may be available in a particular case even if the parties were married for fewer than 10 years. For example, if one parent had by agreement to stay at home for the purposes of raising the children while the other parent pursued their career, then the stay at home parent may need financial support for a fixed period of time in order to transition into the workforce. The length of time that transitional spousal support would be awarded would be up to the discretion of the court.
Another form of spousal support is reimbursement spousal support Reimbursement support might be awarded if one spouse has made financial sacrifices for the other spouse so that they could pursue advanced training or education which gave them superior earning potential.
Maine is a no-fault state, which means that in the determining spousal support, the court will not consider which spouse caused the demise of the marriage. One exception involves economic misconduct. An example of economic misconduct would be a situation where one spouse had a gambling problem and diminished the marital estate through that process at the expense of the other spouse. Another example would be a situation where one spouse disposed of property in contemplation of the divorce prior to any filing with the idea of minimizing the value of the marital estate at the expense of the other. If proper proof of misconduct is presented to the court, the court could penalize that spouse in a final divorce proceeding on the issues of support and property division. Any award of spousal support is subject to future modification if the order so provides.
It is possible for a court to award spousal support for a fixed period of time and restrict the ability of the spouses to modify the order during that period. Absent a restriction, the spousal support awards are modifiable provided that there has been a change in circumstances of a financial nature. Such a change in circumstances may come about if one party experienced a substantial increase or decrease in income. A party who has been ordered to pay spousal support may choose to provide the support in a lump sum as opposed to making monthly payments, but this would require an agreement between the obligor and oblige. In lieu of periodic spousal support, the court can award a spouse a lump sum if the circumstances call for it. In some cases, this is done in order to assist a parent in obtaining housing and other necessities during the post-divorce period.
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