Maine Parental Rights and Responsibilities
During a divorce or legal separation, there are many issues that need to be resolved. Some of the most common issues involve parental rights and responsibilities. According to Maine Revised Statutes, Title 29-A, section 1501.1, parental rights and responsibilities refer to “the various aspects of a child's welfare” that parents are responsible for. This includes:
- Primary physical residence
- Parent-child contact
- Medical and dental care
- Religious upbringing
- Travel boundaries and expenses
In cases involving children, Maine courts will most often require couples to seek mediation to resolve their issues. If an agreement cannot be reached with the aid of a mediator, a judge will rule based on what is determined to be in the best interest of the child. Many factors will be considered to determine what is best for the child including looking at their relationships with their parents, their current living situation, the age of the child, the stability of each parents' home, the parents relationship with each other, any other adults living in each parents' house and even the child's own preferences.
Types of Child Issues in Maine
Divorce Law In a divorce involving children, there are many issues that can arise. Divorce can be very hard on a child and parents are encouraged to reach decisions on their own regarding issues of child welfare. Legally, both parents have an equal right and responsibility to care for their child. However, not all aspects of a child's welfare can be evenly split. Usually, parental rights and responsibilities will be divided in a way that is believed to be fair.
One of the biggest parental rights and responsibilities issues that couples face during a divorce is child custody. Legally, both parents have an equal right to custody of the child. In some situations, this means that parents can share custody of the child an equal amount. In other situations, one parent may have primary residence meaning that theirs is the residence from which the child registers for school and considers to be their home.
Maine law always looks to determine the best interest of the child. If there is a reason that one parent should have more custody or sole custody of the child, it will be because of the negative effect the relationship would have on the child.
When two people have a child together, Maine law states that they are both equally responsible for the financial support of that child. Calculating child support to be paid can be difficult and depends on many factors including the needs of the child, their medical expenses, the income of both parents, and more.
Each parent is responsible for the portion of their child's financially needs proportionate to the percentage of total income of the couple. This means that if one parent earns significantly more than the other, their financial burden will be greater. Generally, one parent is granted primary residence of the child and assumed to be spending their portion of support on day to day needs while the other parent is responsible for paying their portion of child support to that parent.
Other than child support and custody, parents must also decide who will be responsible for making the important decisions in their child's life. This includes the aspects of parental rights and responsibilities that dealt with issues like education and religious upbringing. Often, parents will choose to split these responsibilities based on what is more important to each. For example, one parent may be tasked with the education and medical decisions regarding the child while the other parent is in charge of decisions regarding the child's religion and travel boundaries.
Call a Maine Divorce Lawyer
Though litigation through the courts is the most common way to reach a divorce agreement in Maine, there are many other options available to couples divorcing with children. In addition to court mandated mediation, some couples opt for arbitration, collaborative divorce or lawyer negations. Whatever option you choose, make sure you have a knowledgeable divorce attorney on your side helping you make informed decisions.
If you are dealing with any type of child custody or divorce issue, contact WTB Law to get the assistance that you need. Call us at (207) 571-8146 to find out more about your parental rights.