Bourque Clegg Causey & Morin offers a wide variety of services in the field of Family Law. Our trial-experienced attorneys handle complex financial divorces, parental rights cases involving unmarried partners, grandparent's visitation rights, and contested matters of child support, alimony /spousal support and child custody.
Our attorneys understand that the goal of every domestic relations matter is amicable agreement. However, not all parties have a shared understanding of what is fair. For this reason, our representation always proceeds down two tracks simultaneously: 1) to negotiate and resolve the issues as efficiently and effectively as possible and 2) to prepare for a trial if necessary. Both are essential for divorce and family matters.
Complex Financial Divorces: Not all divorces are simple. Some involved family-owned businesses, multiple pieces of real estate, retirement and investment accounts and other complex asset pictures. We have handled multi-million-dollar divorces with business valuations, complex stock and compensation portfolios and retirement assets. We understand how to address military and civilian government retirement assets, including Thrift Savings Plans and pensions. Because our law firm has a real estate and title department, we also understand the nature of real estate ownership and division of ownership in a divorce. We routinely work with real estate appraisers, certified business value experts and certified public accountants. If you are looking for big-city experience (without the big-city price), contact us today.
Alimony / Spousal Support: Under several circumstances, Maine law allows a divorcing spouse to seek continued financial support from the other party. Maine recognizes different types of alimony or spousal support. These include “general” support when a spouse has much less income and needs help to maintain a reasonable standard of living. Parties can also seek “transitional” support to help a spouse move on from a marriage and create a stronger financial footing through education, job training, medical treatment or other short-term needs. Parties can also seek “reimbursement” support under certain circumstances, such as economic misconduct occurring during the marriage. Sometimes a court orders “nominal” spousal support, which is not actually paid, but it preserves the ability of the court to award support in the future. Spousal support may be paid periodically, or sometimes in a lump sum. Whether a court will award spousal support depends on many different factors. The court may consider the length of the marriage, a spouse's ability to pay, each spouse's financial and medical needs, the future earning capacities of the parties, the overall division of assets, and other factors allowed by law. There is no set formula for determining spousal support, only a series of presumptions and factors that the court must consider. Even after a divorce is final, spousal support may continue to be litigated in subsequent “modification” proceedings. Parties may seek to increase or reduce spousal support based on changed financial circumstances. Parties may seek to reduce or terminate spousal support based on a subsequent remarriage, or cohabitation that is the functional equivalent of marriage. If spousal support is an issue in your case, it is crucial to have an attorney who understands the law and can best advocate for your position in settlement talks or trial.
Child Support: In all family matters involving children, the court will consider the issue of child support. This requires an analysis of each parties' incomes, together with costs of health insurance for the children, and childcare expense. The court must then calculate the “presumptive” level of child support based on a set of guidelines. In certain circumstances, the courts will depart from those guidelines. Calculating income and child support can be complicated and the subject of litigation. An under-employed person may be “imputed” a certain earning capacity for child support purposes. In some cases, the deductions of a business owner may be scrutinized to establish a higher income figure for calculating child support. Some of the most contentious cases may involve claims of unpaid child support arrearages. It is important to have an attorney who is experienced in child support disputes.
Financial Misconduct: Maine is a “no fault” divorce state. However, if one spouse has committed financial misconduct, the injured spouse may recover in the form or spousal support or in a property division that is more favorable to him or her. Cases involving financial misconduct require attorneys with experience investigating the financial history of the marriage and sometimes the work or a forensic accountant and/or investigator. The attorneys at Bourque Clegg Causey & Morin have represented parties injured by the financial misconduct of his/her spouse and have produced favorable outcomes for them. Sometimes these cases require very fast action, that includes filing motions to freeze bank accounts and other assets. We have successfully brought such motions and frozen bank accounts and other assets, protecting our clients from great loss. Call us today at (207) 324-4422 for a divorce consultation.
Custody Disputes/ Parental Rights and Responsibilities: Many divorces involve children. Sometimes unmarried couples with children decide they can no longer live together. In either case, your parental rights will be decided with a judgment or Final Order. These Judgments or Orders can be negotiated between the parties. This becomes the document that governs your parenting relationship after you split up. For that reason, the language in the document is very important to your child's well-being and your own future. Our experienced attorneys know how to craft the document with precise language to protect your child and you. If negotiation fails, we also specialize in trying cases before the Courts with your best interest and your child's best interest in mind. As with any other break-up, many of these can be amicable. Others will require a court-appointed Guardian Ad Litem to testify to what is in your child's best interest. Some cases can even involve psychological evaluations of one or both parents regarding their fitness to be a parent. Over the past 40 years, our law firm has handled all of these types of cases, from the simplest and most amicable, to the most complicated and contentious. We look forward to helping you through this difficult transition regardless of the complexity or simplicity of your case.
Protection From Abuse/Protection from Harassment: In those matters involving Protection From Abuse or Protection from Harassment, we represent both plaintiffs and defendants. These cases involve restraining orders, and they are among the most contentious in Family Law. The stakes are extremely high on both sides. Plaintiffs often need to obtain important protections from domestic violence (spousal abuse or child abuse). Plaintiffs can also obtain emergency orders dealing with child custody, finances and possession of the home. Defendants must often litigate these cases vigorously in order to preserve their relationships with their children, and maintain access to money and property. Defendants also need to be aware that restraining orders may carry negative collateral consequences for employment and firearms possession. Restraining orders are not limited to Family Law. The State of Maine provides “Protection from Harassment” orders, which can arise in a variety of situations when persons are threatened with violence or harassing behavior. See our civil litigation page for more details.
Non-biological parents in Family Law (Adoptions, Step-Parents, Same-Sex Parents, Grandparents, De Facto Parents): Most child custody cases still involve a biological mother and father. However, new law is constantly being developed around the issues involving adults who function as parents, without being biological parents. Step-parents or same-sex couples may choose to cement a parental role through adoptions. Even when a formal adoption does not occur, a break-up may still cause huge rifts and disputes in child custody. Under certain circumstances, three persons may claim parental rights for the same child. Courts sometimes find that a child would be harmed if a relationship with another adult were severed upon divorce or breakup. In that situation, the courts may regard the adult as a de facto parent (Latin for parent “in fact”). The same laws sometimes apply to grandparents who raised children for long periods of time because the biological parents were absent or neglectful. Our attorneys have experience litigating these complex cases, which may involve multiple parties and attorneys.
Guardians of Minors: Unfortunately, children are not always safe or happy in the traditional home. When a child is abused or neglected, the State may intervene. In other cases, a request for guardianship is brought by a private individual. These two types of proceedings may occur together at the same time. Under certain circumstances, the probate and family courts are allowed to appoint a legal guardian for a child. Guardians may be appointed on a temporary basis, or for an indefinite period of time. Our attorneys have experience bringing these cases on behalf of grandparents or other adults who seek legal authority to raise another's child (or protect the child from abuse or neglect). We also have experience defending parents who are wrongfully sued with guardianship proceedings, and wish to protect their parental rights.
Unmarried partners and division of assets: Many people choose to live together in committed relationships without being married. They may purchase real estate or run a business together. What are their rights when those relationships break down? Maine does not recognize common-law marriages, and instead relies on a body of case law involving partnerships and rights of co-owners of real estate. (These are often referred to as “partition” cases). Our attorneys are experienced in litigating these cases, which sometimes requires appraisals and legal proceedings to force a sale or “buy-out” of property.
Pre-Nuptial Agreements, Post-Nuptial Agreements, Judicial Separations: Our firm assists clients in drafting pre-nuptial agreements to protect assets in the event of divorce. These documents may also be needed in connection with an estate plan, to limit the claims of a new spouse and preserve certain bequests to children. Clients often seek these documents to ensure that a family business or family real estate is able to be passed down to the next generation. Even after a marriage, some clients seek to negotiate similar “post-nuptial” agreements. Maine law also allows couples to obtain legal separations, which divide assets while leaving the couple legally married. These topics are complex, and require the assistance of experienced family law counsel. Our firm can provide that experience to meet your needs.