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Basic Steps of a Divorce Case

Following is a general guide we hope will help you as you go through your divorce case.  Of course, there is no substitute for real legal advice, so call us today!

Grounds for Divorce

Maine permits divorces to be granted on the ground that there are "irreconcilable differences" between spouses. This is often referred to as no-fault divorce. We hope to avoid bitterness and hostility in this action and therefore we will request the court grant the divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences.

Issues Resolved in Divorce

The law addresses property in two different categories: marital and non-marital. The non-marital property is set aside to each party and the marital property is equitably divided. We have asked the Court to so divide the property belonging to you and your wife. Our negotiations with Vicki will focus on the proper characterization of property and means for distribution. Hopefully, we will be able to agree to an equitable distribution and present our agreement to the Court for approval.

Steps of a Divorce

The divorce process begins with service of a summons and complaint. 

There are several court forms that we will be required to file throughout the divorce process. Maine is an equitable distribution state, which means that property is divided upon divorce in a manner which is equitable to both parties under all the circumstances. This process begins with completion of a Financial Statement. Once all property and debt is identified, the parties usually negotiate to determine what is fair and equitable for them. 

You should also begin to gather the following:

  1. Tax Returns for the past 5 years;
  2. Current statements showing balance of any and all debt, including credit cards and loans;
  3. Current statement showing balance of any and all assets, including but not limited to savings accounts, checking accounts, stocks, and retirement funds;
  4. Deed for your home; and
  5. Statement showing current balance of your mortgage.

The minimum period of time before a divorce hearing can be held in Maine is sixty (60) days from the day the divorce complaint and summons is served. Most divorces take longer when there are disputes over one or more issues.

Temporary Orders Pending Divorce

If necessary, Maine law permits us or your spouse to seek a temporary court order which will govern your marital affairs until the conclusion of your divorce. Temporary orders usually address use of the marital home, responsibility for marital bills and debts, temporary support and alimony, and issues involving children. Please keep me informed of your status during the divorce process so that we can file a motion for a temporary order if one becomes necessary.

Discovery

Maine Law provides us with the opportunity to conduct extensive discovery regarding the financial issues related to your divorce. It is possible for us to send out interrogatories and requests for production of documents in addition to being able to take depositions of the parties or other relevant individuals. Many parties prefer to proceed with a less cumbersome and less costly informal discovery. This informal discovery involves completion of the financial affidavits required by the Court and production of any other information informally requested by either party.

Final Hearing

If an agreement is reached on the final issues of divorce through informal discussions or attorney negotiations, a written settlement will be prepared and presented to the Judge for approval at the final hearing. If the Judge approves the agreement, it becomes a part of the final divorce judgment and you have, in effect, written your own divorce order. If an agreement is not reached, the final hearing will be a trial at which witnesses will testify and the Judge will decide all issues in dispute.

For more information about our services, please call 207-228-1139 to speak directly with a Portland, Maine family lawyer, or contact us by using our online form.       

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Awards

Timothy E. ZerilloClients’ ChoiceAward 2017
Timothy E. ZerilloClients’ ChoiceAward 2014
10.0Timothy E. Zerillo
The National Trial Lawyers

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