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  • Does it matter who files for divorce?
    No. The Court does not consider who began the divorce in its’ review of the matter. The party beginning the divorce will be called the Plaintiff and the party against whom the divorce was begun is called the Defendant. The Plaintiff will have to pay a filing fee, and perhaps, service of the Complaint. The Defendant will not.
  • Do I need a lawyer for divorce?
    You do not need a lawyer for divorce. However, it is very clear to me after over 25 years of practice that you will do better with an effective advocate than if you represented yourself. It is not only the result, but an understanding of the process that is necessary to protect yourself during a divorce.
  • How many days do I have to appeal a code enforcement office decision?
    It is very typical for there to be a 30-day deadline for appealing the decisions of the code enforcement officers, but it very important to look at the Ordinance of the Town in question for your appeal. Make sure you are careful with the date of the notice from the Town because the 30-day period may run from the date of the notice as opposed to the date you receive it or are made aware of it.
  • How is child support calculated?
    Child Support is calculated using the Child Support Guidelines and a Child Support Worksheet designed to assist the parties in the calculation. Child Support is based upon the income of the parties and the costs of any health insurance and child care associated with the minor child. In the event the parties provide “substantially equal care” for the minor child, there is an additional worksheet that is used to account for this residential situation. When child support is calculated using these Guidelines, there is a strong presumption that the calculated amount is appropriate for the child in question. The parent paying child support (obligor) and the parent receiving support (oblige) each have the right to ask for a change to the amount of child support, but the burden is on the party requesting any such deviation from the Child Support Guidelines.
  • How do I plead at an arraignment?
    Typically, you will want to plead “not guilty” at the criminal arraignment and “deny” at the civil arraignment. Doing this will allow you to discuss the matter with the District Attorney’s Office for a possible resolution. If you plead guilty right away, there is the possibility of being sentenced right away, which could include time in jail.
  • How do I know which board I need to appear before?
    Due to recent changes in zoning law, it is very important to understand which Board is the appropriate one to hear your application. On a typical project, the Code Enforcement Office or the Planning Board would do the initial review of a project. The Zoning Board of Appeals typically only gets involved if there is a decision that you would want to appeal. In very rare instances, one may apply directly to the Zoning Board of Appeals for certain forms of relief. I would recommend contacting an attorney or your local Code Officer to discuss the appropriate process to follow for your application.
  • How old do kids have to be to determine with whom they want to live?
    In the State of Maine, there is no identified age at which a child would be able to determine with whom they want to live. The preference of the child is one of several factors considered by courts in determining what decision would be in the child’s best interest. The preference of the child shall only be considered if it is a “meaningful” preference. This analysis would likely take into effect the age of the child, the maturity of the child, and the reasons articulated by the child for the preference. As a practical matter, the older the child is, the more likely the court would take into account the child’s wishes.
  • What should I do if I am served with a summons and complaint (family or civil)?
    If you are served with a summons, you should read the entire summons carefully as it will identify important rights and obligations. Do not ignore it or its timeframes as they are critical to protecting your rights. Typically, you will have 20 days from the date of service to file an answer to the complaint. If you do not file an answer within that timeframe, the court may default you, which would result in the loss of your ability to defend the case. In a divorce, you will also be bound by a preliminary injunction, which would limit your right to dispose of your property.
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