Maine Custody and Visitation Schedules
You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules, calendars, and professional parenting plan documents.
Title 19-A of the Maine Revised Statutes contains the laws pertaining to child custody and visitation.
It is important to have an understanding of these laws when creating a child visitation schedule so that your schedule will be in compliance with the law and rules of the court.
The State of Maine has specific provisions in place that protects the best interests of children.
The State of Maine realizes and respects the fact that a child should be entitled to have both parents play an active role in his or her life. A child at the center of a family dissolution case in the State of Maine has the right to be nurtured and cared for by both a mother and a father and to spend a significant amount of time with both parents.
Understanding the depth of the law and incorporating it into your child visitation schedule will enable you to create a schedule that the court will accept and your child will benefit from.
As parents, you are permitted and encouraged to work together to create a child visitation schedule that meets the needs of your child. Your schedule should provide your child with continuing and frequent contact with both of you.
If you can reach an agreement and jointly submit a child visitation schedule, it will typically be approved by the court as long as the schedule is created in the best interests of your child.
Should you fail to reach an agreement regarding the visitation schedule, you are allowed to submit proposed parenting plans to the court on your own, but it is likely that the judge will make modifications to it before it is accepted.
If you fail to provide the court with a schedule, the child visitation schedule and any other custody arrangements may be drafted by a mediator, a Family Law Magistrate, or a judge.
The State of Maine does not favor one gender of parent over the other in family law matters. Both parents are considered to be fit and able guardians of their child and both parents are equally entitled to have custody of their child (19-A M.R.S. §1651).
The exception to this is if a parent is proven to be unfit or at risk of endangering the child. In cases involving domestic violence, child abuse, sexual abuse, child neglect, substance abuse, and any other situation that is evidenced that may place the child in harm or danger, the child must be protected from the offending parent.
If any visitation is granted at all to these types of offenders, it will most likely be supervised.
As long as both parents are fit, your child visitation schedule should provide your child with ample contact with both of you.
Like other states, all of the custody decisions in Maine must be done in the best interest of the child so you should write your schedule accordingly. Your child's well-being and best interest should be of utmost importance in your mind as you figure out how to divide parenting time.
Section 1653 in Title 19-A has some factors that the court considers when determining what is in the best interest of the child. It can be beneficial for you to think about these factors as you make your schedule. Here are the factors and some ways to apply them:
- The age of your child, and if your child is old enough, your child's preference concerning custody. Many of your child's developmental needs are based on your child's age. You will not have the same custody schedule for a teenager as for a toddler. And, if your child is old enough, you may want to consider finding out if they have a preference concerning the custody arrangements.
- The relationship of the child with each parent and with other people who significantly affect the child. Of course it is important for your child to maintain a relationship with both parents, but you should also think about other important people in your child's life. Does your child spend regular time with grandparents or other extended family members? Do they have good friends that they see consistently? You'll want to think about that as you make your schedule.
- The duration and adequacy of the child's current living arrangements and the desirability of maintaining continuity along with the stability of any proposed living arrangements for the child. If your child has grown up in the same home for all of his/her life, you may not want to force your child to move. You need to think about the living arrangements your child is used to and how difficult it would be for your child to change.
- The motivation of each parent involved and their capacities to give the child love, affection, and guidance. Maybe both parents aren't ready to have equal custody of the child because of past parental roles. You may need to set up a custody schedule that starts with smaller amounts of visitation until the other parent is ready for more visitation. The capacities of the parents are important to consider when thinking about your child's physical needs.
- The child's adjustment to the child's present home, school, and community. Your custody schedule can have a big impact on how well your child does in school and in the community. Allow your child opportunities to participate in extra events and to be involved. You should also know what kind of schedules allow your child to thrive.
- The capacity of each parent to encourage frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other parent, the capacity of each parent to cooperate in child care, and each parent's willingness to use methods for assisting parental cooperating and resolving disputes. Parents need to place the needs of the child first, and this generally means that the child has a strong relationship with both parents.
- The effect on the child if one parent has sole authority over the child's upbringing. This is especially important to consider if you want sole custody of your child with visitation to the other parent. You must be prepared to explain why this arrangement is best for your child.
- The existence or history of domestic violence or child abuse. The child's physical and emotional safety is always the priority and the child should never be placed with a parent who will cause harm.
Hopefully this gives you some good guidelines to think about as you go through the process of creating your schedule. By putting the needs of your child above all other considerations, you will be able to make a long lasting schedule that will work for your custody situation.
The initial part of the child visitation schedule is the residential schedule.
- The residential schedule will dictate when the child spends time with each of the parents.
- A good place to start is to examine the personal schedules of each parent in order to ascertain each parent's availability. Most experts will agree that it makes no sense to place a child in daycare when a there is a willing and able parent available instead.
- Your child visitation schedule does not have to follow any old standard or "traditional" pattern. The determining factors should be whatever works best for your child.
Your child visitation schedule will also need to include a holiday schedule.
- Holidays and other special days, such as birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, three day weekends, and any other selected days should be shared fairly.
- Some parents go through the calendar and rotate the holidays in a fair manner, and then alternate them each year.
- The holiday schedule takes precedence of the basic schedule so it is a good idea to contemplate the days wisely. Be sure to include the times that the holidays begin and end.
A vacation schedule is the final component of the child visitation schedule.
- The majority of public schools in Maine post their calendars online, which can be used to obtain the exact dates of school breaks in advance.
- Extended time during winter, spring, and summer vacations should be granted to both parents.
- You may include provisions for personal vacation time and how much notice a parent should give the other parent prior to planning vacation and any stipulations you would like to include regarding traveling with the child.
Yes. The State of Maine realizes that other adults may be of importance and benefit in a child's life and has legislature allowing grandparents to petition the court for visitation (19-A M.R.S. §1803).
If the court should award visitation rights to a grandparent, it does not diminish the custodial authority of the parents and it does not delegate any parental rights to the grandparent.
However, if a grandparent is awarded visitation, you will want to include that time in the child visitation schedule so that an accurate record of the amount of time the child spends with each parent can be documented.
The top twelve cities in Maine (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Portland, Lewiston, Bangor, South Portland, Auburn, Brunswick, Biddeford, Sanford, Augusta, Saco, Westbrook, Waterville.