Legal Information: Maine


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December 28, 2022

How will the judge decide on a parental rights and responsibilities arrangement?

The judge will issue a parental rights and responsibilities order that s/he think is in the child’s best interest. In making decisions regarding the child’s residence and parent-child contact, the court shall consider the safety and well-being of the child to be the most important. The judge will consider the following factors when making a decision about parental rights and responsibilities:

  • the child’s age;
  • the relationship the child has with his/her parents and any other persons who may significantly affect the child’s welfare;
  • the child’s wishes (if the child is old enough to make an informed decision);
  • the length of time (duration) and how good (adequate) the child’s current living arrangements are and the desirability of keeping things the same (maintaining continuity) for the child;
  • how stable any proposed living arrangements for the child are;
  • the motivation of the parties involved and their abilities to give the child love, affection and guidance;
  • the child’s adjustment to the child’s present home, school and community;
  • which parent is more likely to make sure that the child has frequent meaningful contact with the other parent, including physical access to the child;
  • both parent’s ability to cooperate with each other (or to learn to cooperate) regarding child care, including the willingness to use any methods that could assist with parental cooperation;
  • the effect on the child if one parent has sole authority over the child’s upbringing;
  • the existence of any history of child abuse by a parent;
    • all other factors having a reasonable bearing on the physical and psychological well-being of the child;
    • if a parent has misused the protection from abuse order process to gain an advantage in the parental rights and responsibilities process;
    • if the child is under one year of age, whether the child is being breast-fed;
    • whether allocation of some or all parental rights and responsibilities would best support the child’s safety and well-being;
    • the existence of domestic abuse between the parents, in the past or currently, and how that abuse affects:
      • the child emotionally;
      • the safety of the child; and
      • everything else listed above, which must be considered in light of the domestic abuse; and
    • if a parent or someone the parent is living with (such as a new spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend) is a convicted sex offender.1

    1 M.R.S 19-A § 1653(3)

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