Parental Rights and Responsibilities
In Maine, the term "Parental Rights and Responsibilities" is used to discuss "custody." Whether unmarried, separated, or divorced, you may ask the Court to establish your parental rights and responsibilities as to your child.
A court order of “Parental Rights and Responsibilities” will likely include a determination of the child’s residence, conditions of child support, terms of visitation, and decision-making responsibilities, such as for education and medical care. The Court may decide between allocated, shared, or sole parental rights and responsibilities:
- Allocated Parental Rights are responsibilities divided between the parents, with specific rights, such as decision-making for education or religious upbringing, assigned specifically to one parent, either exclusively or proportionately. While the parent with the allocated rights may be required to inform the other parent, a final decision rests with the parent to whom that right was allocated.
- Shared Parental Rights means that parents are to make important decisions together. Parents who share parental rights must keep each other informed of any major changes, and consult the other parent in advance wherever possible.
- Sole Parental Rights means that all parental rights and responsibilities regarding all aspects of a child’s welfare are granted to one parent, with the possible exception of the rights and responsibility of child support.
Unless the Court finds that it is not in the “best interest of the child,” Maine’s policy is to ensure that minor children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents, and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities involving in child rearing.
Although safety and the well-being of the child are the primary factors involved in the Court’s determination of “the best interest of the child,” the Court will also consider factors like the child’s age, preference (if old enough to express a preference), relationship with each parent, adequacy of current living arrangements, stability of proposed arrangements, the child’s ties to the community, and the parents’ ability to cooperate.
When the parents agree to shared parental rights, the court will honor that agreement, unless there is substantial evidence that it is not in the best interest of the child; for example, a finding of domestic abuse could cause a court to determine that shared parental rights is not in the best interest of a child.
If you need to establish or modify your parental rights and responsibilities, call us right away. We can help.
Domestic Violence / Protection from Abuse
If you are charged with Domestic Violence or are served with a Protection from Abuse Order, consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Read the Order carefully, and follow the restrictions exactly. The Order usually includes a blanket provision against contact with one or more people. If you violate the no-contact order, you could be arrested and charged with a new crime.
Note: You and the other person cannot agree to communicate, even if you both wish to reconcile, even if the other person does not want the case to go forward. Only the Court can remove a no-contact provision.
Appear at the Hearing. In addition to the no-contact provision, Protective Orders may include provisions regarding parental rights and responsibilities and child support orders, property allocation and monetary awards. Contact us so that we may advocate for your rights and interests.