How Can I Prepare For An Impending Divorce In Maine?
If an individual discovers that their spouse is planning to file for divorce, the most important financial step you can take is to preserve (to the extent possible) financial records, including bank account statements, tax returns, pensions and 401(k) statements. This financial information will be needed in order to resolve the case, therefore, if it is readily available, it will save the party the expense of engaging in an extensive discovery process.
If there are minor children involved, the most important consideration is taking steps to insulate the children from the potential conflict that may occur. The focus should on placing the needs of the children first when making any decision. The concept is to prioritize the needs of the children, even if doing so results in personal sacrifices. Above all else, the courts will recognize the importance of keeping the children at the forefront and minimize litigation.
What Is The Process Of A Typical Divorce In Maine?
Divorces in Maine can be broken down into two broad categories: matters that involve minor children and matters without minor children. Divorces that do not involve minor children deal with issues pertaining to property division, spousal support or alimony, and attorney fees. When minor children are involved, additional matters must be considered, including parental rights and responsibilities, residence, contact, and child support.
Matters not involving minor children are commenced by the filing and service of a complaint for divorce. Once commenced, the court will assign a docket number. Next, the court will issue a pre-trial scheduling order specifying dates by which certain steps in the case must be completed. The pre-trial order will include a deadline for the parties to exchange discovery, , set deadlines for the designation of expert witnesses, and deadlines for the parties to specify other witnesses and exhibits that would potentially be used in the event that there is a trial. Typically, three or four months are allotted for these events to take place before your case is set for a trial management conference in front of a judge.
The trial management conference is intended to address any pre-trial issues and determine when your case can be set for a final hearing.
In matters in which children are involved, the first step requires the parties participate in a case management conference. At family Magistrate will preside over this Case Management Conference. The Magistrate has authority to issue court orders on a temporary basis while your case is pending. At this conference, the family magistrate’s goal is to identify the issues and determine if there are other matter affecting the family such as criminal cases pending between the parties or protection from abuse orders between the parties. In addition, the family magistrate will identify the issues that need to be resolved in the case. The issues identified will include parental rights and responsibilities, primary residence, contact, and child support. The family magistrate will typically determine whether there is a need for a hearing to address temporary arrangements involving the children as well as matters related to possession of property and responsibility for debts. This may be necessary if one parent is preventing the other parent from gaining access to a child and controlling the family finances.
Absent good cause, the court will require that the parties participate in a court sponsored mediation process. Mediation is intended to aid the parties in achieving resolution of the issues generated by the divorce. Most cases resolve through the mediation process, but those that do not will be scheduled for a hearing in front of a judge. The trial process is a technical presentation of evidence a judge will rely upon in rendering a decision. A judge’s decision is final and binding on both parties unless one or both parties appeal. The appeal process is very technical and beyond the scope.
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