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Maine Child Custody
Child Custody in Maine

Based on the Maine Revised Statutes Title 19-A, Section 1653, "[t]he court, in making an award of parental rights and responsibilities with respect to a child, shall apply the standard of the best interest of the child. In making decisions regarding the child's residence and parent-child contact, the court shall consider as primary the safety and well-being of the child. "

Maine child custody laws protect and promote the best interests of the child. Maine family courts encourage divorcing parents to cooperate about child rearing after divorce. The court intervenes and decides custody based on the best interests of the child when the parents are unable to do it.

Child custody laws identify factors that help the court reach a feasible custody arrangement that can be either sole or joint custody. In most cases, joint custody is plausible unless one parent poses a risk to the child. The best interests of the child are the paramount in awarding custody. The court considers the parents' parenting plan as well as the wishes of parents and child. However, there are cases where custody is awarded to a third-party custodian like the child's grandparent. This happens, with the court's discretion, when neither parent is capable of caring for the child.

Maine's child custody laws prohibit the court from granting custody without considering:

  • the child's age, wishes or preferences, provided he or she is mature enough to make such declarations;
  • the child's relationship with his or her parents, siblings, and other individuals that may affect his or her welfare;
  • the child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  • the parents' willingness to allow and encourage regular and continuing interaction between the other parent and the child;
  • the parent-child relationship;
  • any history of domestic violence or child abuse, if any;
  • the mental and physical health of all the parties involved in the proceedings; and
  • the extent in which one parent with sole authority affects the child's upbringing.

Joint Custody Preference

Maine's child custody law expresses a preference for parents to share as equally as possible in the custody of a child in a divorce case.

Third Party Custody

In some cases, a third party, or someone other than a child's biological parents, tries to gain custody of a child. Custody is typically given to a single parent or both parents, but when neither of them is capable of serving the best interests of the child, the court awards custody to a qualified third-party custodian.

Parental Conduct

In addition to finding a parent unfit because of substance abuse or abuse or neglect towards a child, the courts also consider the conduct of both parents during the course of the marriage, and the impact of parental behavior on the child. A violent parent is not likely to receive custody in Maine, and the victim parent must be able to meet the child's basic needs such as daily meals, clothing, acceptable living conditions and access to proper medical treatment.

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