Can a grandparent or other relative get parental rights and responsibilities?
Sometimes. A child’s relative (or any other third party) can generally only be granted parental rights and responsibilities if the court finds that living with either parent would put the child in danger of serious abuse or neglect,1 or if both parents are dead.
If the child is currently the subject of a child protection hearing, (meaning the state is trying to have the child removed from the parents’ care because the child is in danger of harm), a relative can petition the court to be named an "interested person" if s/he has a substantial relationship with the child or a substantial interest in the child’s wellbeing.2 A relative who is an "interested person" may be granted parental rights and responsibilities if the court finds that it would be in the child’s best interest to be placed with that relative.3
1 M.R.S.A. 19-A § 1653 2(C); M.R.S.A. 22 § 4002(6)
2 M.R.S.A. 22 § 4005-D(1)(c)
3 M.R.S.A. 22 § 4005-E(2)