Governor Mills Signs New Economic Abuse Protections Into Law

Governor Mills Signs New Economic Abuse Protections Into Law

On Thursday, June 8th, Governor Mills signed into law LD 947: An Act to Address the Long-Term Impact of Economic Abuse by a Spouse. MCEDV is proud to have worked with Representative Laura Supica of Bangor and Pine Tree Legal Assistance to put forward this legislation that further responds to the call of survivors across Maine for more effective relief to address economic abuse.

The passage of LD 947 means Maine’s family courts will now explicitly consider the impact of economic abuse when dividing property and making spousal support decisions in divorce and separation cases. It adds economic abuse to the specific list of factors a court should consider when determining what distribution of marital property is “equitable,” as well as when determining whether to order spousal support and what form that support should take. As survivor Kerry Bowman testified, “Judges should be empowered to be able to right economic wrongs done to us by our abusers if deemed appropriate, and not be bound to a 50-50 division of assets as the gold standard of fairness.”

Representative Supica noted to the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary in April, “[T]he impacts of economic abuse can dramatically derail a survivor’s economic, emotional and physical well-being for years to come, even after the abuse has stopped. It is imperative that these lasting consequences are considered when evaluating spousal support payments or asset division in legal separations.”

More information about the impact of economic abuse on survivors in Maine can be found in our 2019 report. This newest effort builds upon legislation passed in 2019, which defined economic abuse in Maine law and provided protections through the Protection from Abuse process.

MCEDV extends our gratitude to Representative Supica for partnering with us on this important legislation, to the survivors who testified in support of the bill, and to the full Maine Legislature for their unanimous support. This legislation is one more important step forward in advancing economic justice for survivors of domestic abuse in our state.