Parents must come to an agreement on child custody when they separate. These arrangements include how they will make major decisions regarding their child moving forward (referred to as "legal custody") and how they will share time with their child (referred to as "parenting time," "timesharing," or "physical custody," depending on the state). Maine appropriately calls this “parental rights and responsibilities."
This article provides a brief overview of child custody laws in the state of Maine.
The Best Interests of the Child Standard in Maine
The standard that most states use to determine child custody is the “best interests of the child." In Maine, family court judges also use this standard to determine residence and parent-child contact, looking at factors such as:
- The age and preference of the child
- The relationship of the child with each parent and any other persons who could significantly affect the child's welfare
- The duration, adequacy, and stability of the child's current and proposed living arrangements and the desirability to maintain continuity
- The motivation and capacity to give the child love, affection, and guidance of each parent or other party involved
- The child's adjustment to the current home, school, and community
- The parent's ability to allow frequent contact with the other parent and the ability to cooperate with the other parent on childcare
- Any past or current domestic violence or child abuse by a parent and the effect on the child's safety and emotions
- Willful misuse of the protection order process by either parent to get an advantage in parenting
- A parent or person living with a parent's conviction of a sex crime
- Anything else that affects the child's safety and well-being
While no preference is given to either parent because of their own or the child's gender, one factor considered for custody of children under one is whether or not the child is breastfed.
Child Custody in Maine
The chart below details the basics of child custody laws in Maine.
|Tit. 19-A et seq. of the Maine Revised Code
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
Joint Custody an Option?
Grandparents' Visitation Rights Recognized?
|Yes, Tit. 19-A § 1803
Child's Wishes Considered?
|A child's wishes are considered if the child is old enough to express a meaningful preference
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Get Legal Help with Child Custody Today
If you and your child's other parent are separating, you might not agree on who gets custody of your child or what the custody arrangement should look like. There are many other factors to consider in these determinations, but the court's primary concern will be the child's own best interests. One of the best ways to get a handle on the process is to seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney.