The Basics

Should I get a lawyer?

We provide this information for low-income people who cannot afford to hire lawyers. We recommend that you consult a lawyer if you can afford one.

Also, you should try to get a lawyer if your divorce involves:

  • Property issues, such as pensions or real estate
  • Domestic violence

You may want to try to do it yourself if:

  • You and your spouse agree on all the legal issues,
  • You do not feel that your spouse is a threat, and
  • You have little property and few debts, which you can divide fairly.

People will low incomes can get some limited help from Courthouse Assistant Projects (available in many, but not all Maine District Courts). For example, they can help you if you have more questions about filling out the forms or “serving” the forms on your spouse. If you think you can pay something for a lawyer, or for limited legal advice, you may want to call the Maine State Bar Association's Information and Referral Services: 1-800-860-1460. They charge a small referral fee. Or search online for Maine lawyers who specialize in divorce.

If you are in a relationship with domestic violence, we recommend that you contact your local domestic violence program: 1-866-83-4HELP (1-866-834-4357).


How long will my court case take?

You cannot get divorced until at least 60 days after the complaint for divorce is served (delivered to your spouse). If you and your spouse agree on all or most of the issues, your case could be over in 60 days. If you disagree and the issues are complicated, your case could take much longer.


How much will it cost?

Here are some of the costs, which are subject to change:

Summons Form: $5

Filing fee: $120

Service fee: $8 - $50 (It varies depending on which method of service you use)

Mediation fee (only if you request mediation): $80 (per party; $160 total for two mediation sessions)

You can ask the court to waive the fees if you have a low income and cannot afford them. Ask the clerk for an "Application to Proceed Without Payment of Fees" and an "Indigency Affidavit." Or get these forms online.


Other important tips for using this guide

  • Sometimes lawyers and Judges speak in "legalese." If you come across a linked word you don't understand, click on it. This will take you to the Glossary and a plain English meaning for the word.
  • Consult a Courthouse Assistance Project for more help with forms and other legal questions.
  • For help in a domestic abuse situation, contact your nearest domestic violence advocate using their statewide helpline: 1-866-83-4HELP(44357)
  • Call Pine Tree Legal Assistance if you need help with:
    • Getting food or shelter
    • Paying for medical care
    • Public benefits/income supports (like SNAP, fuel assistance, or TANF)
    • Housing issues