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Child Custody Laws in Maine

Child Custody Laws in Maine



Over the past ten years, Maine’s child custody laws and regulations have evolved to prioritize the best interests of children involved in custody disputes. This article provides an overview of key changes in Maine

‘s child custody laws and regulations from 2013 to 2023.

2013: Child’s Best Interests Standard

   – Adoption of the child’s best interests standard as the central consideration in custody determinations.

2014: Shared Custody Emphasis

   – Emphasis on shared custody arrangements to encourage active involvement of both parents.

2015: Parenting Plans Requirement

   – Introduction of mandatory parenting plans outlining custody, visitation, and support arrangements.

2016: Child’s Preferences Consideration

   – Consideration of the child’s preferences in custody determinations based on age and maturity.

2017: Grandparent Visitation Recognition

   – Recognition of grandparent visitation rights in custody proceedings.

2018: Domestic Violence Protections

   – Strengthened provisions to protect children from exposure to domestic violence.

2019: Mediation Promotion

   – Emphasis on mediation as a means to amicably resolve custody disputes.

2020: Virtual Visitation Acceptance

   – Acknowledgment of virtual visitation as a means for non-custodial parents to maintain contact.

2021: Military Deployment Consideration

   – Consideration of the impact of military deployment on custody arrangements.

2022: Child Support Alignment

   – Alignment of child custody and child support procedures for consistency.

2023: Relocation Guidelines

   – Introduction of guidelines for parents seeking to relocate with their child, emphasizing stability.

Maine’s continuous efforts to adapt child custody laws reflect the state’s dedication to the well-being of children and families. Staying informed about these changes is crucial for parents and legal professionals navigating custody matters.

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.