Maine Maine

Child Custody Law

Child Custody General Information - What Is Child Custody?

Child custody is defined as the guardianship over a child, which covers both physical custody and legal custody. In a child custody dispute the court may award joint custody to both parents or sole custody to a single parent.

Child custody cases in Maine can be either contested and resolved by court order, or noncontested and defined in a child custody agreement between the parents. A custody agreement or order will legally determine, at minimum, the following things:

  • Where the child lives (physical custody)
  • Who is involved in making parenting decisions (legal custody)
  • How the visitation schedule with non-custodial parents or relatives is arranged

This page describes how a contested child custody case is handled in the Maine court system, and what factors are used to determine which parent gets custody.

Maine Child Custody Law Summary

After a breakup or divorce in Maine, couples with children must come to a child custody agreement that describes which parent the children will live with, how visitation will be scheduled, and how the non-custodial parent will pay child support.

Some of the factors considered by Maine in child custody cases include the child's wishes, willingness of the parent to cooperate with their partner and any history of domestic violence.

If any of the parents request shared primary residential care and the court does not grant shared primary residential care, the court will state the reasons why such a decision is not in the best interests of the child.

The following factors may be considered in the case of custody:

  • Conditions of parent-child contact in cases involving domestic abuse

  • A provision for child support as provided in subsection 8 or a statement of the reasons for not ordering child support

  • A statement that each parent must have access to records and information pertaining to the child, unless that access is found not to be in the best interest of the child or such access is sought for the purpose of causing detriment to the other party.

In an order of parental rights and responsibilities, the court can:

  • Order an exchange of a child to occur in a protected setting

  • Order contact to be supervised by another person or agency

  • Order the parent who has committed domestic abuse to attend and complete to the satisfaction of the court a domestic abuse intervention program or other designated counseling as a condition of the contact

  • Order either parent to abstain from possession or consumption of alcohol or controlled substances, or both, during the visitation and for 24 hours preceding the contact

  • Order the parent who has committed domestic abuse to pay a fee to defray the costs of supervised contact

  • Prohibit overnight parent-child contact

  • Impose any other condition that is determined necessary to provide for the safety of the child, the victim of domestic abuse or any other family or household member.

In an order of parental rights and responsibilities, a court may require that parent-child contact between a minor child and a person convicted of a child-related sexual offense may occur only if there is another person or agency present to supervise the contact.

Maine Child Custody Factors - How Is Child Custody Decided In Maine?

If the parents are on amicable terms they may agree to custody terms in a parenting agreement between themselves, or via a mediator. If child custody is disputed, however, they will have to receive a child custody order from a Maine judge, who will attempt to make a custody decision that is in the "best interests of the child".

In the state of Maine, a number of factors are taken into account by the courts when determining who gets child custody. This section describes Maine's custody factors, considerations, and presumptions when evaluating a custody order.

Is there a set list of statutory factors for calculating child custody in the state of Maine?

Maine has a list of statutory factors that are considered by the court when determining a custody order. This list may include factors such as the child's age, the living situation of each parent, any history of abuse or neglect from either parent, etc. Although there is a statutory list of factors, consider other factors at its discretion depending on the particular circumstances of the case.

Do judges in the state of Maine favor joint custody?

Judges in Maine are authorized to order either joint or single-parent custody of a child subject to a custody dispute.

Courts in Maine do not have a presumption in favor joint custody orders when evaluating child custody. The judge will evaluate the specifics of the custody dispute to determine what custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child.

Do Maine courts encourage parents to cooperate together to raise the child?

Maine courts favor awarding custody to a cooperative parent who is willing to work together with the other parent regarding child visitation, scheduling, child support, and other co-parenting matters. Maine law favors co-parenting as being in the best interests of the child, and the courts will favor a parent willing to cooperate over a parent who attempts to alienate their child from the other parent.

Are the child's wishes considered when determining custody in the state of Maine?

In Maine, the court does consider the child's reasonable wishes when determining which parent wins custody. The judge may take the child's age, maturity, and judgement into consideration when considering the child's custody preference.

Do Maine courts consider domestic violence when determining custody?

Maine has laws that explicitly permit the consideration of domestic violence in conjunction with child custody. This may mean that domestic violence is a statutory factor in custody determinations, that the court has a presumption against custody for abusers, or that special procedural considerations are imposed in cases involving domestic violence.

Do the courts in the state of Maine have the right to hire an attorney or Guardian Ad Litem to represent the child?

Maine has statutory authority for appointment of a guardian ad litem or attorney specifically to represent the child in a custody case. This person advocates for the best interest of the child, and is tasked with investigating the family situation and advising the court what custody situation would be in the best interests of the child.

| State Law Official Text

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