Divorce Laws on Alimony in the State of Maine
By Heather Frances J.D.
If your marriage ends, you may ask the court for alimony, or spousal support, as part of your Maine divorce decree, but alimony is not automatically awarded. Unlike child support, there is no calculation method for alimony. So, your divorce judge has wide discretion when deciding whether to award alimony and, if so, how much to award.
Types of Alimony
Maine’s alimony laws are located in section 951-A of Maine Revised Statutes, which permit a court to award several types of alimony: general support, transitional support, reimbursement support, nominal support and interim support. General support is given to help a spouse that has substantially less income potential than the other spouse. Transitional support is intended for spouses who need help temporarily to reestablish their household after divorce or to obtain training or education to increase their earning potential. Reimbursement support may be ordered when one spouse has substantially contributed to the education or career advancement of the other spouse or because of one spouse’s economic misconduct. Nominal support simply preserves the court’s authority to increase spousal support in the future. Interim support is awarded to cover expenses while the divorce is pending.
Methods of Payment and Limitations
In Maine, the court’s alimony award must state how the alimony is to be paid. The court can order payment by lump sum, installment or any other method the court feels is appropriate. The court may also place limitations on the award, such as limits on the way an award can be paid, future modifications to the amount of the award and modifications to the length of the term of payment.
When a Maine court considers alimony, it must consider the factors listed in state law. These factors include the duration of the marriage, ability of each spouse to pay alimony, employment potential of the spouses, spouses’ ages and contributions each spouse made as homemaker or to the earning potential of the other spouse. The court is not limited to consider only the factors listed in the statutes since one of the factors allows the court to consider any other factors the court feels is appropriate.
Length of Marriage Presumptions
When a spouse asks for general support, Maine law contains rebuttable presumptions about whether such support should be awarded based on the length of the marriage. If spouses are married for less than 10 years, the law presumes general support should not be awarded. If spouses are married for 10 to 20 years, the law presumes general support should not be awarded for any period longer than half the length of the marriage. However, the spouse asking for alimony may rebut these presumptions by proving that the presumption would be unjust in her situation.
Heather Frances has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in law reviews, local newspapers and online. Frances holds a Bachelor of Arts in social studies education from the University of Wyoming and a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School.