Can You Prevent Your Divorce in Maine?
Alan R. Nye
I’m often asked by clients if they can stop their spouse from getting a divorce.
“I just won’t agree to it,” they sometimes say to me after being served a divorce complaint.
My response is always the same.
“You don’t have to agree,” I say. “In Maine, the divorce laws are set up so that even if you don’t want a divorce, your spouse can still get one.”
This conversation is especially troubling when one spouse still desperately loves the other person and wants to remain married. But if one spouse in a marriage is miserable, for whatever reason, should that person be forced to stay in the marriage against his or her will? What if the person is unhappy because his or her spouse is physically or verbally abusive, is an alcoholic or drug addict, is unfaithful, doesn’t help at all in raising the children, or engages in any number of other destructive behaviors? Should that couple remain married?
Since 1973, Maine has had a no-fault statute allowing divorces based upon irreconcilable marital differences. So although the law still allows divorces based upon fault (for example, adultery, impotence, desertion for three consecutive years; and cruel and abusive treatment), the vast majority of divorces are based upon allegations of irreconcilable marital differences.
The idea behind no-fault divorce was to free the process from being seen as morally right or wrong, where one party was guilty and the other innocent. Though seldom used, the court has the ability to order the parties to counseling when one spouse denies that there are irreconcilable differences. Sometimes filing a divorce complaint prompts both parties to agree to professional counseling which is ultimately successful in saving
their marriage. Other times the counseling shows the party not wanting the divorce the futility of trying to stay together.
The bottom line is that in Maine, if one person in a marriage wants a divorce, the court will eventually grant it.