What Are The Best Options For Proceeding With A Divorce In Maine?
I recommend that parties experiencing divorce make a good faith effort to resolve issues through a collaborative or mediated process. A collaborative process involves the assistance of professionals with expertise in particular areas. If there are substantial financial assets, it is beneficial to obtain the services of an individual with a financial background to assist in the division of assets to minimize tax consequences and other issues that are raised by the transfer of assets from one spouse to the other. The specialized knowledge of the collaborator can be invaluable in achieving an equitable division of the marital assets.
The mediation process is somewhat similar to the collaborative process, but does not employ the assistance of a specialized collaborator. Mediation can be very effective when there are no complex issues related to the distribution of assets. The issues centered around the children can be resolved with the assistance of a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem is a specifically trained individual appointed to provide the court with an opinion of what would be in the best interests of the children in terms of residence and contact.
Utilizing collaborative or mediation processes is the best opportunity for the parties to participate in crafting the final terms of their divorce. The alternative is to allow a trial judge make the decision. , Allowing the judge to determine the terms of the divorce can be nerve-wracking for most people because it requires letting a virtual stranger dictate matters that will affect their daily life. My recommendation is to engage in a good faith effort to achieve a satisfactory resolution so that the terms of the final divorce can be consistent with the best interests of the parties.
How Is Parenting Time Determined In Maine When The Parents Are Divorcing Or Not Married?
Maine law recognizes that both parents have equal rights to their children. The law mandates that no preference be given to a parent based on gender. The only way a parent can be granted more rights to their child is through a court order. The standard used by the courts in determining parental rights and contact is called the best interests of children. In employing this standard, the court considers several factors specified in Title 19-A § 1653. These factors aid provide direction to the court in determining the children’s residence and contact allocated to each parent. One parent might be granted primary residence, or parents might share primary residence. Paramount is the safety and well-being of the children. Other factors identified in the statute include, but are not limited to, the ability of the parents to get along in co-parenting arrangements, the ability of a parent to allow and encourage frequent and continual contact, and the relationship that a child or children have with other folks involved in the family unit. There are many other factors.
All things being equal, children deserve the right to have a loving and caring relationship with both parents. An impediment to shared residential situations might be logistical in nature. For example, if one parent is geographically separated from the other, then certain parenting plans might be impossible to implement or otherwise not in the best interests of the children. Some children do not do well with schedules that require multiple exchanges between parents during the course of a week.
Once residency has been established, the non-custodial parents contact must be established. In making this determination, the best interests of the children controls in terms of providing meaningful contact for the non-residential parent. The final question relates to child support. Child support is governed by the Maine child support guidelines which create a legal presumption on the amount paid. The mandated guideline support factors the parties respective gross incomes, the cost for health insurance and the costs for daycare., This information is used to determine a child support entitlement figure. Each party is assigned responsibility for the entitlement based upon their proportion share of the combined gross income. If either party is interested in a child support plan that deviates from the formula-based determination, they would be required to explain their reasoning to the court. If the reasons are appropriate, the court could grant the request for deviation.
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