Couples have rights to some property and assets, as well as debts, acquired by both or one spouse during the marriage. Generally, marital property is property from the marriage that isn’t separate property. It doesn’t matter how the home or car are titled (in one person’s name or as a joint tenancy, etc.). Separate property is what was owned separately by either spouse pre-marriage, gifts to an individual spouse, inheritance, property that’s excluded by any prenuptial or other agreements, or property received after legally separating.
Equitable Distribution vs. Community Property
The two main ways that states divide marital property are called equitable distribution and community property. Maine has an equitable distribution or common law system of marital property, which is true for the majority of states. Under this system, marital property isn’t automatically assumed to be owned by both spouses and therefore should be divided equally at divorce.
In Maine, marital property will be disposed of during a divorce proceeding by the court considering all relevant factors, including:
- The contribution of each spouse in acquiring the marital property, including the contribution of a homemaker spouse
- The value of the property set apart for each spouse
- The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the property division happens, such as considering awarding the family home or the right to live in the home for a reasonable period to the spouse having custody of the kids
Marital Property Laws in Maine
The following chart explains more about the marital property laws in Maine.
||Maine Code Revised Title 19-A, Section 953: Disposition of Property (in Divorce)
||Maine does NOT recognize community property and has NOT enacted the Uniform Disposition of Community Property Rights at Death Act to protect those who acquire community property rights while in a community property state and then move to an equitable distribution state (like Maine).
|Dower and Curtesy
||Like almost all states, Maine has abolished the traditional legal concepts of dower and curtesy. Dower was the life estate of a wife in her husband’s property that a wife was entitled to after his death. Curtesy was the same for men in their wives’ property, however, they could only claim it if they had a child capable of inheriting the property.
If you are going through a divorcing and have any assets or debts, you should consult with an experienced local divorce lawyer to discuss your rights and options. If your spouse has died and you want some help understanding your rights to marital property as a surviving spouse, you should speak with a Mainer estate administration attorney.
Note: State laws are updated regularly. Please contact a knowledgeable attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these state marital property laws.
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