Legal Information: Maine

Divorce

Updated: 
October 22, 2021

Can I get alimony?

Alimony (also called spousal support or maintenance) is financial support paid by or to your spouse and can be awarded when a divorce is granted. You can receive alimony if the judge finds that it is appropriate. An order allowing, denying, or changing spousal support must state:

  • the type of support awarded, if it is awarded;
  • the payment method and any terms or limitations, if support is awarded, including:
    • a limit on the increase or decrease in the amount of support;
    • a limit on any increases or decreases in the term (length) of support;
    • a limit on the method of payment of support;
    • a limit on the payment of support if you remarry; and
    • a limit on the payment of support if you move in with someone;1
  • if the support cannot be changed in the future; and
  • the factors that the judge relied upon to make her/his decision to award or deny spousal support, if the other spouse did not agree to pay support.2

1 ME ST T. 19 § 951-A(3)
2 ME ST T. 19 § 951-A(1)

What types of alimony are there?

There are five types of alimony in Maine: interim, general, transitional, reimbursement, and nominal.

1) The judge may award you interim support to help you during your pending divorce action.1

2) You may receive general support to help you financially if you make substantially less money and have less potential to make money than your spouse so that you can have a reasonable standard of living after your divorce. The judge will presume that s/he should not grant general support if you and your spouse were married for less than ten years. The judge will also presume that s/he should not grant you general support for a period of time that is more than half of the length of your marriage if you and your spouse were married for 1 - 20 years. If the judge decides the spousal support award based on these considerations would be unjust, s/he can overrule the presumptions (make a different decision).2

3) You may receive transitional support to help you adjust to life after divorce. Your transitional needs may include:

  • short-term financial needs due to divorce; or
  • help to reenter or advance in the workforce, including physical or emotional rehabilitation services (to address disabilities or barriers to employment), vocational training, and education.3

4) The judge will only consider reimbursement support if your financial situation does not allow the judge to order a fair and equitable financial outcome through dividing marital property. You may receive reimbursement support to help make your and your spouse’s finances become equal if there are “exceptional circumstances,” which include but are not limited to:

5) The judge may grant you nominal support (a small amount) so that s/he has the ability to grant you support in the future. In other words, granting nominal support allows the judge the right to revisit the question of spousal support later.5

1 ME ST T. 19-A § 951-A(2)(E)
2 ME ST T. 19-A § 951-A(2)(A)
3 ME ST T. 19-A § 951-A(2)(B)
4 ME ST T. 19-A § 951-A(2)(C)
5 ME ST T. 19-A § 951-A(2)(D)

What factors will the judge consider when deciding whether to award alimony?

To decide whether to grant you alimony, the judge will consider the length of marriage, the ability of the spouse requesting support to become self-supporting in a reasonable amount of time, and both spouses’:

  • ability to pay support;
  • age;
  • employment history and job potential;
  • income history and income potential;
  • education and training;
  • retirement provisions and health insurance benefits;
  • tax consequences for the sale of your marital property or home;
  • health and any disabilities;
  • tax consequences because of a spousal support award;
  • contributions as a homemaker;
  • contributions to the education or earning potential of the other;
  • economic misconduct that caused the loss or reduction of value of property or income;
  • standard of living during the marriage;
  • actual or potential income from property awarded as part of the court’s distributive order;
  • child support orders; and
  • any other factors that the judge thinks is appropriate.1

1 ME ST T. 19-A § 951-A(5)

Can my alimony be changed?

If you were awarded spousal support before October 1, 2013, the judge may change (modify) the order if:

  • the judge believes that fairness requires it to be changed; and
  • there is nothing specifically written into the order that says it cannot be changed or modified.1

If you were awarded spousal support on or after October 1, 2013, the judge can change the award if:

  • the judge believes that fairness requires it to be changed; and
  • there is a substantial change in financial circumstances.1

The judge can make, modify, or enforce a spousal support award while a divorce action is pending or even while a divorce order is being appealed.2

1 ME ST T. 19-A § 951-A(4)
2 ME ST T. 19-A § 951-A(11)

Can the judge end my alimony award?

Yes. A judge can stop your spousal support award if you and another person enter into a relationship where you and that person support each other and the relationship is basically the same as a marriage for at least 12 months out of an 18-month period.1

Although an order awarding, denying, or modifying spousal support may allow the award to continue after the death of you and/or your spouse, if it does not say that in the order, the obligation to pay spousal support stops when you and/or your spouse dies.2

1 ME ST T. 19-A § 951-A(12)
2 ME ST T. 19-A § 951-A(8)

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