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How to Find a Divorce Record in Maine

Maine divorce records are official documents that provide essential details about divorces finalized in the state. Divorce records contain the names of the divorced parties as well as when and where the divorces occurred. Some divorce records also spell out the terms of divorce settlements. Divorce records serve as proof of dissolution of marriages.

Divorce records are considered court records. They may therefore be searched on third-party public record websites. Divorce records can offer personal information on minors, finances, and sensitive criminal information like domestic abuse. Because of this, divorce record, certificate, and decree availability is usually much lower than other types of public records because of the personal nature of divorces. Simply put, divorce records are significantly harder to obtain and search for than other types of public records.

  • What is a Divorce Certificate?

    A divorce certificate is a document that serves as a vital record of the dissolution of a marriage. This document contains primary information about the divorce including the names of the divorced parties and the place and time of the divorce. A divorce certificate is needed when applying for a name change. Maine also requires divorce certificates when previously married individuals are applying for new marriage licenses.

    Maine divorce certificates are either certified or non-certified/plain documents. A certified copy of a divorce certificate is printed on security paper and bears a raised seal. This copy can be used for legal, tax, and identification purposes. A plain copy of a divorce certificate is used strictly for informational purposes. It is a photocopy of the original document and clearly marked as “not a legal copy.” Both types of divorce certificates contain the same information.

  • What is a Divorce Decree?

    A divorce decree contains a court’s final divorce judgment. This document provides the information found on a divorce certificate and also spells out the terms of settlement of the divorce. The terms in a divorce decree include the responsibilities of the divorced parties and how they may share assets and liabilities. If they have children who are still minors, the divorce decree will also include details on custody, visitation schedules, and child support. The document also includes the court’s decision on alimony payments as well as the case number for the divorce.

    In cases where the couple does not agree on the divorce terms, the divorce decree is only issued after a hearing. The hearing is necessary to settle the divorce terms and binds the parties to the responsibilities set by the court when the hearing is concluded.

    A divorce decree is issued by the court and carries the presiding judge’s signature.

  • What is a Divorce Record?

    A divorce record comprises all documents introduced and produced during a divorce proceeding. This includes everything issued in the divorce process including the divorce decree. A divorce record is a comprehensive case file that can be used for future reference when reviewing the divorce case or appealing the judge’s decisions.

Are Divorce Records Available to the Public in Maine?

Access to divorce records in Maine is strictly limited, as Maine is a closed-records state. This means that by law, divorce records are confidential. However, divorce records become accessible to the public after 50 years. People who have access to divorce records before they become public records include the:

  • Divorced parties named on the records
  • Registered domestic partners or spouses of the persons named on the records
  • Parents or guardians named of the parties named on the records
  • Legal representatives of the persons named on the records
  • Descendants of the persons named on the records

How to Obtain Maine Divorce Court Records

The Maine Judicial Branch is the authority in charge of divorce court records in the state. A requester may send an application for a record search to the Maine Judicial Branch, or visit the court that finalized the divorce. Maine does not accept requests submitted via phone, fax, or email.

To obtain copies of a Maine divorce case file, download and complete the Record Search Request Form. Maine charges a record search fee of $20 per name per court location. This means that a search for one name in three courts costs $60 and a search for two names in three locations costs $120. The search fee is not applicable for parties searching for their own divorce records. Copies of divorce records cost $2 for the first page, and $1 for each additional page. A certified copy with the court seal costs another $5 per document.

The Judicial Branch accepts payments via check, money order, credit card, and cash. When paying with a check or money order, make it out to “Treasurer, State of Maine.” To use a credit card, fill the Record Search Request Form with the card details including the card number, expiration date, CVV, and the name on the card. Accepted credit cards include Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. The Judicial Branch only accepts cash if the request is hand-delivered.

Send the completed form along with a self-addressed and stamped envelope to:

Judicial Branch Service Center
P.O. Box 266
Lewiston, ME 04243

Government public record search portals and third-party public record websites both may provide court records search tools, which can help find divorce records, though record availability usually varies widely. Divorce records in particular may simply not be available through either source.

How to Obtain Maine Divorce Certificates

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Maine State Archives are responsible for issuing copies of divorce records. A certified copy costs $15 and additional copies of the same record cost $6 each. A plain copy costs $10 and is clearly marked as a non-legal copy.

Copies of divorce records can be requested online or by mail.

Mail

To apply for a certified copy of a divorce record via mail, download and complete a Vital Record Application Form with the full names of the divorced parties including maiden name. A requester would also need the divorce date and the county where the divorce was completed. Enclose the completed form with the following documents:

  1. Government-issued ID e.g. Driver’s License, Passport, Social Security Card.
  2. Self-addressed and stamped envelope
  3. Check or money order made out to “Treasurer – State of Maine”
  4. Proof of direct lineage e.g. birth certificate, military records, court records, baptismal record.

For divorce records before 1892, send the request to:

Maine State Archives
State House Complex, Station 84
Augusta, ME 04333-0084

For divorce records from 1892 to present, send the request to:

Vital Records
Maine Department of Health and Human Services
220 Capitol Street
11 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0011

A requester can also order a copy of a divorce certificate online. An additional fee may apply. The online service accepts payments via credit cards, including MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and American Express.

Does Maine Recognize Common-Law Marriages?

Maine common-law marriages are not considered valid. As such, residents of Maine are not privy to benefits that couples in other states that Recognize Common-Law Marriage would access. If unmarried partners cohabit but want to dissolve their relationship, they do not require a divorce. This also means property sharing among such couples would be tasking and end up uneven.

Common law marriages are a kind of marriage in which the couples do not go through the legal process of becoming married or a solemnization ceremony but parade themselves as a married couple, share the same last name, and participate in duties that married couples share. This setup brings with it some benefits of marriage without the responsibility of being legally married.