Maine Grandparent Visitation Laws
Under Maine Law, Title 19-A, Chapter 59, grandparents are given some rights when it comes to visitation. This is known as the Grandparents Visitation Act. Maine has very specific grandparent visitation laws. “Grandparents” are limited to the following stated under section §1802 of Maine's Revised Statutes:
A biological or adoptive parent of a child's biological or adoptive parent. "Grandparent" includes a biological or adoptive parent of a child's biological or adoptive parent whose parental rights have been terminated pursuant to Title 18-A, section 9-204 or Title 22, chapter 1071, subchapter VI, but only until the child's adoption.
Additionally, unlike other states that only require the lack of a nuclear family, grandparents in Maine can only petition for visitation if a death has occurred. In fact, under Maine Law, the grandparents of a child that is still a minor can only petition the court for visitation if the following conditions are met:
- One or both of the child's parents or legal guardians have passed away
- The grandparent and child have an established relationship OR
- The grandparent has made a good effort to establish a relationship with the child in the past
If you would like to know more about grandparent's rights in Maine, contact a family law attorney right now.
The Maine Grandparent Visitation Legal Process
Before the process of seeking grandparent visitation begins, the court will often refer all parties to mediation to see if a solution can be amicably decided upon. Mediation involves all parties meeting with an impartial third party or mediator who will work with them to reach a compromise.
A decision that is reached by the parties through the mediation process can be written and presented to the court for approval and a court order can be issued. This is often a faster, less expensive process that will produce a resolution that everyone is happy with. If a solution cannot be made during mediation, the court will hear all evidence and make a decision to determine what is best for the child.
Defined under section 1803.2, the procedure for petitioning the court for the right to grandparent visitation is as follows:
- The grandparent must file an affidavit that states their request for visitation as well as a statement that a relationship with the child exists or that the grandparent had attempted to establish a relationship with the child in the past. A copy of both must also be served to at least one of the child's parents or guardians.
The parent or legal guardian may file a response to the petition stating reasons why visitation should be denied or any other information that is pertinent to the case. A copy of this response must also be delivered to the grandparent.
The court will consider all information and determine whether they feel a relationship between child and grandparent has been established or that “sufficient effort” was used to attempt to establish one.
Based on this decision and any other relevant information, the court will rule whether or not visitation should be granted to the grandparent.
As with most issues regarding child custody in Maine, the court will look to act in the best interest of the child. Any visitation that the court feels will "significantly interfere with the parent-child relationship" may be denied. In order to ultimately determine whether visitation with a grandparent should be granted, the court will look at factors such as the following:
- The child's age
- The relationship between child and grandparent
- The preference of the child, if they are mature enough to present one
- The stability of the child's current living situation
- The ability of the parents and grandparents to cooperate with each other
- The parents and grandparents ability to resolve conflicts
Additionally, anything that the court feels may negatively affect the child's physical or emotional well-being will be looked at. The court will examine every factor including whether the grandparent has ever been convicted with a sex offense or sexually violent offense. In cases where a grandparent does have sex offense convictions, visitation may still be granted but will require the visits to be monitored or .supervised.
Maine Grandparent Visitation Lawyer
If you are a grandparent seeking visitation rights to your minor grandchild, call WTB Law to find out more about your rights. Child visitation law can be confusing and the entire process can be difficult. Let us help you get the results you want as quickly as possible. Call (207) 571-8146 now to get started.