What happens if a parent violates the parental rights and responsibilities order?
If the other parent does not follow the court’s order, you can petition the court for a violation/contempt hearing. If the court finds that the other parent has violated the order, the judge can decide that the parent is “in contempt” and can add terms to the order, change the terms to make the order more specific, order make-up visitation if dates were wrongfully missed, or fine the other parent.1
1 M.R.S. 19-A § 1653(7)
Can a final order be changed?
If a parent wants to change a final parental rights and responsibilities order, s/he can petition the court for a modification hearing.1 To get an order changed, the parent needs to show the court that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the order was issued and that changing the order would be in the child’s best interests.2
According to Maine law, the following would automatically qualify as a “substantial change in circumstances” in order to bring the case back to court:
- if a court finds that domestic violence has occurred since the primary residence was last determined;
- if there is shared or allocated parental rights and responsibilities and:
- one parent intends to relocate or has relocated out of state but the non-relocating parent lives in Maine;
- one parent intends to relocate or has relocated within Maine and it will “disrupt the parent-child contact” between the child and the parent who is not relocating. Note: The judge will assume that any move greater than 60 miles from the relocating parent’s home or from the non-relocating parent’s home will disrupt the parent-child contact but it’s possible that a move of a lesser distances can also be determined to “disrupt the parent-child contact”; or
- if a parent receives a notice of the intended relocation of his/her child from the other parent.3
1 M.R.S. 19-A § 1657(1)
2 See M.R.S. 19-A §§ 1657(1); 1653(3); see also Neudek v. Neudek, 2011 ME 66, 21 A.3d 88
3 M.R.S. 19-A § 1657(3)
If I plan to relocate, what type of notice do I need to give to the other parent?
For parents with shared or allocated parental rights and responsibilities, the parent who wants to relocate must give notice to the other parent at least 30 days before the planned relocation. If the relocation must happen in less than 30 days, notice must be given as soon as possible.1 The notice shall include the address and, if known, the telephone number of the residence where the parent intends to relocate the child.2 The only exception to this is if the parent who wants to relocate believes that giving notice would put him/her and the child in danger. In that case, the parent has to notify the court and the court will give appropriate notice to the other parent with the parent’s and child’s safety in mind.1
After the non-relocating parent receives the notice of intended relocation, s/he can object to the move in court or seek a change in custody based on the intended move. See Can a final order be changed? for more information.
Note: The law isn’t specific about how the notice is supposed to given and delivered to the other parent - the law just says “actual notice” must be given.2 We recommend checking with a lawyer in your county who is familiar with custody and relocation matters to get advice on how to make sure the notice is given/delivered properly. Go to our Maine Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.
1 M.R.S. 19-A § 1653(14)
2 See FM-140 Schedule of Parental Rights and Responsibilities 9/05
If I have sole parental rights and responsibilities, can the other parent have access to my child’s records?
Usually, both parents can have access to their child’s medical and school records, even if the child does not live with the parent. However, the court can deny a parent access to the child’s records if the judge believes that access would not be in the child’s best interest. For example, when the parent has been abusive, or if the parent wants access for the purpose of causing harm to the other parent.1 If you are concerned for your safety if the other parent can access the child’s records, which likely include your home address and telephone number, you can ask the judge to deny the other parent access.
1 M.R.S. 19-A § 1653(2)(D)(4)
If I move to a new state, can I transfer my child custody case there?
After a final custody order is issued, there may come a time when you and your children move to a different state. For information about how to request to transfer the custody case to a new state, please go to the Transferring a custody case to a different state section in our general Custody page. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you may likely first need to get permission from the court or from the other parent to move your children out of state. Please talk to a lawyer to make sure your plans to move don’t violate your custody order or your state’s parental kidnapping laws.