When it comes to divorce, most states use one of two basic legal principles. Divorces are generally either fault-based, meaning that one spouse’s actions are the root cause of the divorce, or they are no-fault divorces, in which case no reason is required. While most states are trending toward completely no-fault systems, Maine is unique in that it is a mixed state – couples can file for divorce on both fault and no-fault grounds.
Are There Benefits to a Fault-Based Divorce?
If your spouse’s behavior or condition falls under one of Maine’s grounds for fault-based divorce, this may be the best option for you. While there aren’t any guaranteed benefits to choosing a fault-based divorce, this option may give you an advantage when negotiating child custody agreements or the division of marital property.
Pursuant to MRS 19-A § 902, the grounds for fault-based divorce include:
- Extreme cruelty
- Utter desertion for three consecutive years
- Gross and confirmed habits of alcoholism or drug addiction
- Gross and wanton or cruel nonsupport
- Cruel and abusive treatment
- Irreconcilable marital differences
- Incapacitation as determined by the court
Does Fault Impact Alimony or Child Support?
The answer to this question can vary dramatically depending on the unique circumstances of your case. Issues like adultery and impotence will generally not be considered by the court at all when it comes to support payments.
Issues like cruelty, drug addiction, or desertion of the family, however, can definitely impact child support payments. If a divorce is granted based on any of these grounds, it is very doubtful that the offending spouse will be chosen as the primary custodian. If they are not the primary custodian, they are more likely to be ordered to make child support payments or contribute a larger amount.
With all this being said, the courts will still often look at any economic misconduct when determining alimony. If you can prove that your spouse was wantonly irresponsible with marital funds, such as spending lots of money on an affair, the alimony ruling may be more in your favor.
Getting Divorced? Call (207) 209-2902 Today.
As you can see, divorce in Maine is not a simple process. The decision to file for fault or no-fault divorce should be made with the help of your attorney, and should be based on what’s best for you, not vilifying your ex in court. At Moncure & Barnicle, our experienced Topsham divorce attorneys can guide you through the process with care and compassion. When you retain our firm, we will put more than 170 years of collective legal experience to work for your case.
Let our Topsham divorce attorneys guide you through the process. Call us at (207) 209-2902 for your free initial consultation.