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Maine Child Custody Laws

Whether married or not, parents are responsible for the care and financial support of their children. When a couple splits up, they must continue to provide that support, even if they can’t stand the other parent. Generally, child custody covers where the child lives primarily and what visitation looks like (maybe for grandparents too), as well as who gets to make the important decisions about education, health care, and more for the child. Maine appropriately calls this “parental rights and responsibilities.”

Child support is related only in that parenting time is typically tied to the amount of money owed by the state’s guidelines. However, keep the issues separate because you can’t just prevent a parent form their legal visitation because they’re late on paying child support.

The Best Interests of the Child Standard

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 of maintaining 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 parents ability to allow frequent contact with the other parent and the ability to cooperate with the other parent on child care
  • 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 breastfeed.

Child Custody in Maine

The chart below details the basics on child custody laws in Maine.

Code Sections Maine Code Revised Title 19-A: Domestic Relations, Part 3: Parents and Children
Uniform Child Custody Act Maine enacted the first version of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act in 1979. In 1995, Maine enacted the updated Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act version or the UCCJEA.
Joint Custody Yes, parents can be granted joint custody. Maine law states that moms and dads are the “joint natural guardians” of their children. However, this may be modified due to the circumstances.
Grandparents Visitation Rights Maine does recognize grandparent visitation rights under certain circumstances. Maine has enacted a Grandparents Visitation Act that permits reasonable visitation if in the best interest of the child.

Grandparents may also be awarded parental rights and responsibilities with a child if custody to either or both parents would put the child in jeopardy.
Child’s Wishes A child’s wishes are considered by the judge, at least when the children are old or mature enough to have their own wishes.

If you’re needing to establish or modify a parenting plan or have any questions about child custody, then you should speak with an experienced Maine child custody lawyer about your legal options.

Note: State laws change regularly. Please contact a knowledgeable attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these state child custody laws.

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