Child Decision Making Rights in Maine
When a couple with children separates, they have to divide their parental rights and responsibilities as well. This not only includes where the child will live and who will pay expense but also issues like education, medical care and religious upbringing. Parents need to agree on how these responsibilities will be allocated. Under Maine Revised Statutes, Title 19-A, Chapter 51, parents can divide their rights and responsibilities three different ways. They are as follows:
Allocated – When responsibilities are allocated, parents divide aspects of the child's welfare between them however they see fit. This could mean one parent is granted the majority of the decision making power or that it is split evenly. For example, one parent may want to be in charge of raising the child under their religion while the other will be in charge of where the child will attend school.
Shared – While the term “shared” may sound similar to “allocated” there is actually a distinct difference between the two. When parental rights and responsibilities are shared, parents are given joint decision making rights for their child. This means that parents will have to make decisions about their child's welfare together or with one another's input and keep each other informed of ”any major changes affecting the child's welfare and shall consult in advance to the extent practicable on decisions related to the child's welfare”.
Sole – When one parent is given all decision making rights for the child, this is called sole parental right and responsibilities. A parent with sole custody does not have to inform or get approval from the other party before making any decisions regarding their child's welfare. The other parent is still responsible for paying child support however.
Maine Parental Rights and Responsibilities
Parents are encouraged to decide how they will make decisions for their child amicably, but this is not always possible. Parental rights and responsibilities are one of the most commonly contested divorce issues. During any type of divorce or child custody negotiation, the topic of rights and responsibilities will always be addressed. If a couple cannot agree on the terms, the court will make a ruling for them. The court always seeks to rule in the best interest of the child. In order to determine this, the judge will look at factors like:
- Each parent's relationship with the child
- The parent's relationship with each other
- The child's own preferences
- The stability of each parent
- Any other factors that might negatively affect the child
Portland Child Custody Attorney
If you are dealing with a child custody issue in Portland or anywhere in Maine, we can assist you. A divorce attorney can help you better understand parental rights and responsibilities and work to reach a resolution that works for your entire family. Whether you are divorcing, modifying an existing agreement or looking to establish an agreement, call our office right now to set up a consultation with an experienced family law attorney.