Paternity in Maine
According to Maine law, the father of a child has certain obligations to the mother and child. This is referred to as paternity law or obligations of the father. Maine Revised Statutes Title 19-A, Chapter 53 deals with paternity laws in the state. Subchapter 1 includes The Uniform Act on Paternity. This subchapter lists all the steps that need to be taken in order to prove paternity and petition the court for support from the father. A paternity petition may be filed for any of the following reasons:
- To establish a biological father
- To order the alleged father to pay child support
- To order the alleged father to pay past child support
- To order the alleged father to pay attorney's fees, medical bills or other relief
When dealing with any sort of paternity issue in Maine, it is important to seek counsel from an experienced family law attorney.
Maine Paternity Laws
Maine law, section 1552 states that a father is responsible for “reasonable expenses” of the mother's pregnancy and for the education and support of their child regardless of whether the child was born in or out of wedlock. Also, the father is responsible for reasonable expanses of funeral costs if the child was not born living.
The mother, alleged father, child or whomever is charged with the support of the child may petition to establish paternity in order to seek support. If paternity is acknowledged by the father or once it established, the court can issue orders demanding that the father pay reasonable expenses for any and all of the following:
- Pregnancy and confinement
- Child education
- Child support
- Child funeral expenses (in cases where the child did not survive)
Under Maine law, section 1550, a father's liability for past support and educational expenses is limited to a six-year period before the petition was filed with the court. In addition, a petition for child support from the father may only be placed before the child's 18th birthday. If the father is deceased, their estate is only liable for the "amounts accrued prior to his death" under section 1555.
Establishing Paternity in Maine
According to Maine law, the district court has jurisdiction over cases involving the determination of paternity. This means that a jury will not be used to determine the paternity of a child. Instead, a judge at a district court will go over the case and determine what expenses the father will be responsible for paying. It is not always clear who the father of a child born out of wedlock really is. In order to establish whether or not a man is the legitimate father to a child, the court may order a blood or tissue typing test. If the alleged father refuses such test, the court may enforce this order and demand the test be taken. If there are multiple alleged fathers, the court may order all of them to take a blood test in order to establish paternity.
If a paternity test shows that the alleged father is not the parent of the child, the question of paternity will be resolved. If the probability of the alleged father being the parent of the child is greater than 97%, he will be presumed to be the father of the child. If the probability is less than 97%, evidence will be submitted to the court and it will be up to the judge to examine the results along with the other evidence that the alleged father is the parent.
Blood tests are not the only admissible evidence used to establish paternity. Under section 1563(1), the following is also admissible evidence:
A. An expert's opinion concerning the time of conception;
B. Evidence of sexual intercourse between the mother and alleged father at a possible time of conception;
C. Medical, scientific or genetic evidence relating to the alleged father's paternity of the child based upon tests performed by experts; or
D. The statistical probability of the alleged father's paternity based upon the blood or tissue tests.
The court will ultimately rule whether or not paternity is established. A party only has 30 days to challenge the results of a paternity hearing. Additionally, the issue of paternity can only be proven after the child's birth or miscarriage. Any action that is raised during the pregnancy will be suspended until such time under section 1557 of the Uniform Act on Paternity.
Paternity Rulings in Maine
There are several judgments that can be placed to a paternity hearing. Under section 1565, these judgments can include the following:
Support – When paternity is established, a father may be ordered by the court to make periodic payments of support to the person who is owed.
Parental rights and responsibilities – A judge may grant a father parental rights and responsibilities. If either party does not agree with this, they may file a complaint. In order to resolve parental rights and responsibilities issues the court may need to determine paternity.
Temporary support order – If a man is determined to be the parent the father of a child, and that paternity is contested a temporary child support order may be issued.
Portland, ME Paternity Lawyer
If you are facing paternity issues in Maine, contact WTB Law right away. You will speak to a family law attorney who can explain more about paternity law and the rights and responsibilities of fathers.
Paternity issues can be confusing. Our attorneys will help you through the process step by step. Whether you are a mother or child seeking support from a father or an alleged father who wants to understand their rights, we can help you. Call us now to get started.