MAINE DIVORCE PROCESS
To legally end a marriage in Maine, a married couple must go before a Maine divorce court. In addition to determining whether the couple will be divorced, Maine divorce courts have broad powers to resolve all other issues related to the divorce.
The final step in the divorce process comes when a judge or magistrate signs a formal decree of divorce which grants the divorce and sets forth the terms of the divorce. There are a number of options that are available to divorcing couples for getting to that final step. The following is a brief description of two processes which can lead to that final stage of a divorce.
Compared with adversarial litigation, mediation often results in significant cost savings for divorcing couples. When both spouses meet with one divorce mediator, they typically share the cost, which is commonly between $3,000 and $6,000. If the spouses were to retain separate attorneys to represent them in the divorce, each would be paying a retainer of about $3,000 to $6,000 - or more - just to get started.
In the divorce context, agreements reached as a result of the mediation process form the basis of a written settlement agreement prepared by the mediator. That draft agreement, after signature by each spouse, is a legal contract that provides the terms of their divorce decree. The mediator does not provide legal or tax advice in the mediation - or any other legal assistance for either spouse in the future.
We at Lotane Mediation facilitate obtaining a divorce by preparing all court documents and even appearing with the parties at their final hearing. This may be of value to the many people who try to do their own divorces, but run into difficulty trying to understand the laws and the complex paperwork involved.
At Lotane Mediation, we practice within the transformative model of mediation in all divorce cases. We feel that the transformative approach is most valuable in divorce cases where the parties will have an ongoing relationship long after the mediation – especially when children are involved. In these cases, it is critically important for the parties to be able to co-parent effectively.
By helping the parties gain strength through empowerment and appreciate the views and feelings of the other party through recognition - hallmarks of transformative mediation - the hope is that the relationship itself will be transformed, allowing the parties to deal with each other more effectively in the future when conflicts arise
What if mediation doesn't work
Litigating a divorce, with each party represented by an attorney, is an adversarial process that can be quite lengthy. It is said that a litigated divorce in Maine - even when the parties are in agreement on all issues - will take at least a year from start to finish. As mentioned previously, a litigated divorce can be expensive, with each party paying an up-front retainer of $3,000 to $6,000 - or more - just to start the process. When that retainer is exhausted, it must be replenished.
If not settled prior to trial, a litigated divorce will be decided by a judge or magistrate who has a very limited exposure to the parties (and their children, if any) and their family situation. This often results in one, or both, parties being profoundly disappointed with the result. Essentially, in a litigated divorce, you surrender all power and control over the outcome of your divorce to a stranger. Lastly, studies show that compliance with a divorce judgment is much more likely if the parties have an agreed upon settlement of their issues, rather than if dictated by a judge or magistrate.
As specialists in preventative law, we at Lotane & Associates believe that divorcing couples are best served if they can resolve the issues at play in their divorce through mediation. Our preference is to resolve matters cooperatively because mediation produces faster, less costly, and better results, particularly if there are relationships that need to be protected or healed. However: it takes two to mediate.
In order to protect our clients, we proceed according to the principle of reciprocity: if the other party wishes to engage in a cooperative, interest-based mediation, that is our preference. However, not all people are willing - or able - to set aside their differences to participate in such a manner. If, after exploring the mediation process in an initial complimentary informational meeting, the parties may determine that it is necessary for them to proceed through the courts in a traditional manner. In those rare cases, we are able to refer our clients to outside practitioners who specialize in the litigated divorce process – if we have to – in order to serve and protect their interests.