File for Divorce in Washington County, Maine (ME) | Divorce in Washington County
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Divorce in Washington County

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Online Divorce in Washington County

divorce in Washington County

Please note: OnlineDivorce.com in Washington County, Maine, is a divorce document preparation service, not a law firm. Online Divorce is not eligible to provide legal advice. All the information below is for informational purposes only.

Those spouses who want to have a quicker and cheaper divorce in Washington County can do it independently without hiring a family attorney for each litigant. Nowadays, the divorce process is so simple that anyone can have a Do-It-Yourself Divorce, avoiding courtroom battles and trials. A couple only needs to submit their divorce documents at a local courthouse and resolve all divorce-related issues within a 60-day waiting period or longer. To get divorced in the fastest and easiest way in Washington County, a couple must file for an uncontested divorce where they agree on child custody, support issues, and property division.

The beauty of an uncontested divorce is that the other spouse can fully participate, which results in a divorce by agreement. Or the other spouse can remain inactive yet cooperative, which results in a divorce by default. One can have both types of uncontested divorce without a lawyer. However, if either spouse contests any issues, such as custody and visitation or property division, legal representation is required. And the cost of divorce starts rising.

If this is your first civil action in the Washington County court, you may feel unsure about completing the paperwork correctly and not making any mistakes that will prompt the court to reject your divorce case. OnlineDivorce.com is here to help you by preparing your divorce documents and informing you of the necessary steps in divorce proceedings, Family Law in general, and local rules in particular. After you complete a questionnaire on the OnlineDivorce website, you will obtain state-specific divorce forms and step-by-step filing instructions.

Following our clear, detailed instructions, you will get the assistance and confidence you need to quickly finish the documents preparation stage and move to the filing stage. Thus, you will initiate your divorce in a controlled and stress-free manner, being aware of the divorce timeline, and filing all paperwork on time.

The advantages of using OnlineDivorce.com include an easy-to-use document preparation service, affordable initiation of a DIY divorce, and helpful information on divorce in Washington County.

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Valid grounds to get divorce in Washington County

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A divorce in Washington County starts with a valid reason (or grounds) for the court to grant it. A divorce can be based on a fault (where one spouse claims that the other spouse is to blame for breaking the marriage) or just on “irreconcilable differences” where no one is guilty of causing the relationship to fall apart. The latter is called a no-fault ground for divorce. The former is a fault-based ground.

According to Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 19-A §902. Grounds, Maine suggests divorcing spouses choose from a list of adultery, impotence, abandonment, cruelty, alcoholism, and hospitalization because of mental illness. However, fault-based grounds contradict the no-conflict nature of an uncontested divorce and are used mostly in custodial battles. The court will require evidence and proof to support the spouse’s fault.

Therefore, ‘irreconcilable differences’ is the most common ground for getting a DIY divorce in Washington County.

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Custody of the child in Washington County

Custody of the child in Washington County

Each divorcing couple has a right to suggest their vision of child custody in a Parenting Plan. The Washington County court reviews the submitted Parenting Plan, ensuring that the child’s rights are not violated, and parenting responsibilities are split reasonably and fairly.

If the parents fail to write their child-related arrangements in one document, the court will do it for them, holding the child’s best interests as its primary principle (Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 19-A §1653. Parental rights and responsibilities). Both the parents and the court intend to develop the best combination of legal and physical custody. Seeing joint custody as the most beneficial outcome, the court will consider each parent’s willingness, wishes, age, health, living conditions, income, relationships with other family members, and contributions in the past.

When determining custody, Washington County judges aim to disrupt the child’s life due to the parents’ divorce as little as possible. For this reason, if there is an opportunity for the child to remain in the same school and around the same people (friends, relatives, etc.), the court will express a preference for this outcome.

Therefore, a common share of parenting responsibilities is for the custodial parent to reside with the child for more than 50% of the time while the non-custodial parent pays a higher child support amount to compensate. It refers to physical custody. As for decision-making responsibilities concerning education, medical care, vacation, religion, and other critical child-related issues, both parents commonly share legal custody 50/50.

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Rules for child support in Washington County

In Washington County, parents have the right to submit their variant of child support, following the child’s best interests. Absent an agreement; the court will do it for them, relying on the corresponding rules and guidelines.

In Washington County, the court determines support with the help of Maine’s child support guidelines and the Income Shares Model. By examining the family’s existing level of living and each parent’s income demonstrated in a Child Support Affidavit and Child Support Worksheet, the court calculates the total support obligation and divides it proportionally to each parent’s share.

For example, a lower-earning parent may be responsible for 40% of the support amount, while the higher-earning parent for 60% of the support amount. At that, the non-custodial parent typically pays more because the custodial parent automatically bears more child-related expenses. However, it is common for Washington County custody decisions to determine the custodial parent not to pay child support because he or she is already fully invested in raising the child. If the parents decide to share their parenting responsibilities equally, time-sharing calculations are possible. In this case, the child support amount is higher because one child requires two residences.

The amount of child support may vary depending on the number of children being cared for by one parent and the child’s age. Older children typically require more in child support as their expenses for education and childcare may be higher. Calculate child support for your family situation here.

In Washington County, whether alimony is paid to one parent is also considered. When calculating each parent’s gross income, the court considers not only their incomes, employability, real estate, expenses, and other financial factors but also the amount of spousal support.

Rules for spousal support in Washington County

Rules for spousal support in Washington County

Called alimony in Maine, the award of spousal support is linked to property division and child support. Traditionally, spouses can deal with alimony on their own. If they are unable to agree, the court will intervene. In determining the need for alimony, the court considers each party’s age, health, ability to pay, employment potential, income, education and training, contribution as homemaker or contribution to the education or earning potential of the other party, as well as the provisions for retirement and health insurance benefits of each party, the tax consequences of a spousal support award, and the standards of living of the parties during the marriage according to Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 19-A §951-A. Spousal support.

Also, the length of the marriage is an important factor in awarding alimony in Washington County. Marriages of less than 10 years are rarely considered for spousal support. Although there is an option of permanent spousal support, the Washington County court only orders it in rare cases of lengthy marriages (over 20 years) when one spouse’s age and health prevent them from getting training and education to become fully independent financially.

In Washington County, the court ensures spousal support payments by including an income withholding order to require the paying spouse’s employer to transfer the necessary amount from a paycheck to the support enforcement agency.

Starting January 1, 2019, alimony payments are no longer included as taxable income in Maine.

Use an alimony calculator and learn how much you may pay or receive in spousal support.

Uncontested Washington County divorce with children

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Property division in Washington County

Property division in Washington County

Unless divorcing spouses submit their variant of property division in their marital settlement agreement, the court divides the marital assets of a couple using equitable distribution. The principles of equitable distribution require the court to distinguish separate property (acquired by each spouse independently before the marriage or after the separation or via gift/inheritance) from the marital property (acquired by the spouses during the marriage). The marital property is then split equitably between the spouses according to each spouse’s contribution to the acquisition of the marital property, including the spouse’s contribution as a homemaker.

Under Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 19-A §953. Disposition of property, after a Washington County court considers “the value of the property set apart to each spouse” and “the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live in the home for reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of the children,” the marital property is divided between the spouses “in proportions the court considers just.”

Marital property includes real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, jewelry, and pensions. If spouses own expensive marital property and have trouble splitting it equally, they can hire appraisers and planners to help deal with these issues. In particular, retirement plans and pensions can be tricky because they are more complicated to value accurately due to their vested and unvested nature, with different terms of maturation and other long-term conditions. Couples commonly negotiate to trade their pensions for some financial assets or their share of ownership in a home.

Mediation support in Washington County

In Washington County, the court shall mandate mediation only in case of contested issues and custody battles. In all other cases, mediation can be ordered at the court’s discretion.

Mediation is an excellent option for couples who want to have an uncontested divorce but cannot resolve custody or visitation or property division on their own. Hiring an attorney for each spouse can be too expensive. Meanwhile, one skilled mediator can assist a couple in negotiating their difficulties without taking either side. Spouses can attend mediation together or individually.

How to file for divorce in Washington County | Step-by-Step

1

Meet the residency requirements. At least one spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months and is currently a resident. More specifically, Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 19-A § 901 (2020) requires the plaintiff (the spouse who files for divorce) and the defendant (the spouse who is served with the divorce papers) to meet one of the following requirements:

-  A. The plaintiff has resided in Maine for six months before filing for divorce;

-  B. The plaintiff is a resident of Maine, and the spouses were married in this State;

-  C. The plaintiff is a resident of Maine, and the spouses lived in this State when they decided to divorce; or

-  D. The defendant is a resident of Maine.

2

Find out where to file. In Washington County, divorces are handled in district courts. Find a local district court in the area where either you or your spouse live through a court locator on the Maine Judicial Branch website.

3

File the court forms. Fill out the correct set of divorce forms. Make two copies of the forms and notarize the documents. File the originals with the county clerk’s office and get stamps for the copies. After you pay a filing fee and file the paperwork, it is time to serve your spouse.

4

Serve the spouse. If you have an amicable divorce and the spouse has no objection to being served, he or she must sign a waiver of service that you will file with the court. Alternatively, you can hire a sheriff or a process server who will deliver the divorce documents to your spouse’s home address and bring a proof of service that you will file with the court.

5

Participate in a case management conference. Maine has a 60-day waiting period after serving the defendant with the divorce papers. In the meantime, couples with minor children are required to attend a case management conference where a family law magistrate examines any agreement between the spouses up to this point and orders mediation if necessary. With the assistance of a family law magistrate, divorcing spouses can meet as many times as necessary to resolve their issues and expedite the divorce proceedings.

6

Resolve all your issues. If the family law magistrate reviews your divorce documents and finds all the divorce-related problems resolved, they may schedule a final hearing where the divorce decree will be signed. The hearing will occur after the mandatory waiting period or right away if the 60 days have already passed.

7

Attend a final hearing. Those couples who cannot agree on some issues must attend several hearings and conferences until all matters are resolved and memorialized in writing. Depending on how well you prepared the required paperwork, you may get divorced right after one case management conference. If a final hearing is scheduled, make sure all issues are settled. Then the final order is signed, and you are officially divorced.

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Filing fees for divorce in Washington County

Filing of a Divorce Complaint will cost you $120 to $175.00 in Washington County. Serving the defendant ranges from $25 to $50 when done through the Sheriff or a professional service server.

How long will it take?

Because of the 60-day waiting period before a final divorce hearing, a divorce in Washington County cannot take less than two months from the day the defendant receives the divorce papers. If divorcing spouses manage to file all the required paperwork and resolve all issues in the meantime, the rest will depend on the court’s workload. Having no contest and keeping all the paperwork in order, a Washington County couple can get divorced within three months.

Couples struggling with some divorce-related issues must attend several mediation sessions, interim hearings, and conferences. It may take up to a year, depending on the issues. As soon as custody, support, and property division are sorted out, the judge will sign the final order.

Filing for divorce in Washington County | Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a divorce cost in Washington County?
Compared with other US states, the average divorce filing fee in Maine is quite low, around $120 for Washington County. Whether a couple will have to pay any additional expenses depends on their situation.
Typically divorces with children are more expensive if the parents need to hire experts to help them deal with custody and visitation time through mediation and legal means. Dividing assets also may require hiring appraisers, real estate agents, pension planners, etc. Meanwhile, attorney fees are by far the most expensive divorce-related service. If a litigant can avoid hiring counsel, the price of a divorce can be radically lower.

How to file for divorce in Washington County without a lawyer?
Each US state provides free information on DIY divorces. Usually, lawyers are hired to file divorce paperwork with the court and explain the litigant’s rights and obligations. Using the services of document preparation companies and free self-help resources, you can learn all necessary information on divorce and complete the divorce forms without any help. If needed, free consultations are provided by law clinics and legal aid programs.
To start a divorce, go to your local district court and submit the completed divorce forms. The court’s clerk will file the documents and give your divorce case a file number. After you arrange the service of the divorce papers on your spouse, your divorce is on its way.

What are the required forms for an uncontested divorce in Washington County?
A divorce form package can vary for couples with and without children. Typically, it will include:

  • Complaint for Divorce
  • Confidential Family Matter Sheet
  • Family Matter Summons and Preliminary Injunction
  • Acknowledgment of Receipt of Summons and Complaint or Post-Judgment Motion
  • Federal Affidavit
  • Answer and Counterclaim or Answer and Counterclaim For Parental Rights and Responsibilities
  • Financial Statement
  • Certificate Regarding Real Estate
  • Motion for Service by Publication and Affidavit
  • Order for Service by Publication
  • Verification
  • Child Support Worksheet
  • Child Support Affidavit
  • Entry of Appearance
  • Certificate in Lieu of Financial Statement
  • Certificate in Lieu of Case Management Conference

Can I file for legal separation in Washington County, ME?
Yes, Maine allows couples to file for legal separation. After the petitioners file the paperwork and the spouses resolve divorce-like issues of custody, support, and property division, the judge issues a Judgment for Separate Maintenance. Maine does not mandate spouses to reconcile. In Washington County, legal separation can be either dismissed or turned into divorce at any time.

When is it allowed to remarry after a divorce?
Anytime. Maine has no restrictions for ex-spouses regarding remarriage.

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Divorce Courts in Washington County, Maine

Maine District Court - Machias
Clerk Name:
Pam McPherson
Court Address:
85 Court, Machias, Maine 04654
Phone:
207-255-3044
Fax:
207-255-0501
Clerk Hours:
8am-4pm
Parking information:
Parking lot in back of courthouse, additional parking on side of Sheriff's Dept., and municipal lots on Main Street.
Maine District Court - Calais
Clerk Name:
Karen Moraisey
Court Address:
382 South, Calais, Maine 04619
Phone:
207-454-2055
Fax:
207-454-0085
Clerk Hours:
8am-4pm
Parking information:
Parking available in public lot.