Child Custody Laws in Maine

Child Custody Laws in Maine

Child Custody Laws in Maine


Guide to Child Custody Laws in Maine



The state of Maine has stopped using the term “child custody” in its laws, but it still uses many of the same concepts.  If you are a parent who is in a custody dispute, you need to understand the child custody laws in Maine.  This guide will explain these laws and how they might affect your divorce or custody dispute.



Developing a Parenting Plan



Child custody laws in Maine, like those in every state, focus on the best interest of the child as their standard.  Because children are served best when their parents are communicating and voluntarily sharing information and responsibilities, many parents choose to avoid the heartache of a custody hearing and instead develop a parenting plan.



Parenting plans may be developed by the parents themselves, or they may be worked on in conjunction with divorce lawyers or mediators.  Hiring a mediator can cut down costs of working out a parenting plan.  In some cases, child custody laws in Maine allow the court to order families into mediation to develop a parenting plan.



Parental Rights and Responsibilities



One of the terms that child custody laws in Maine now use rather than “custody” is “parental rights and responsibilities.”  Parental rights and responsibilities include child support, education, healthcare, religious instruction, and even simple things like food, shelter, and clothing.  The court has three ways to divide these rights and responsibilities:



ñ Sole parental rights and responsibilities can be granted to one parent according to child custody laws in Maine.  If this occurs, the other parent's parental rights and responsibilities will be terminated except for child support.



ñ Shared parental rights and responsibilities mean that both parents will need to work together to make major decisions for their child.  Generally, courts will do this if they feel the parents can work together well.  Parents who have a parenting plan asking for shared parental rights and responsibilities will usually see their plan approved unless there is substantial evidence that it should not be.



ñ Allocated parental rights and responsibilities are also allowed by child custody laws in Maine.  This means that some rights and responsibilities are given to one parent, and some to the other. 






Residency is considered by child custody laws in Maine to be another parental responsibility.  Residency can be split by both parents or divided into just about any configuration the court deems in the best interest of the child.  In some circumstances, a non-parent adult may also be given residency rights for a child, particularly if both parents are seen as unfit by the court or if the non-parent has developed a close relationship with the child.






If you choose to move out of the state of Maine, the family court will consider this a change in your circumstances.  You must notify the court and the child's other parent about the move, so that the court can examine whether your parental rights and responsibilities should be altered as a result of the move.






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