you probably have a lot of questions about parental rights and responsibilities.  I will answer some of those questions below.  I'm looking forward to our first meeting and learning more about your case.

What Does "Parental
Rights & Responsibilities" Mean?

In general, "parental rights and responsibilities" means the role that each parent will play in the child's life.  The two main "rights" issues are:

  • Parent-child contact; and, 
  • The role that each parent will have in making decisions for the child about such things as education and medical decisions.

Parent-child contact can range from the children having no contact with one parent  to a "50-50" arrangement.  

Decision-making can be shared where the parties must agree before a decision is made for the child.  On the other extreme, one parent can be be awarded sole decision-making authority.

How Does The Court Determine Parental Rights & Responsibilities?

The main focus of the court's determination of parental rights and responsibilities is the "best interests" of the minor child or children.  There is a presumption that the court should "assure minor children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents . . . and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing in order to effect this policy."

In determining what is in a child's best interest, the court looks to a number of factors including:

  • The age of the child;
  • The relationship of the child with the child's parents and any other persons who may significantly affect the child's welfare;
  • The preference of the child, if old enough to express a meaningful preference;
  • The desirability of maintaining continuity;
  • The motivation of the parties involved and their capacities to give the child love, affection and guidance; and,
  • Each party's ability to co-parent and cooperate.

Can The Court Consider Gender?

No. Maine law provides that "court may not apply a preference for one parent over the other in determining parental rights and responsibilities because of the parent's gender or the child's age or gender."

How Does Domestic Violence Impact Parental Rights & Responsibilities?

Maine law recognizes that domestic violence is harmful to children.  A court may award primary residence of a minor child or parent-child contact to a parent who has committed domestic abuse only if the court finds that adequate provisions for the safety of the child and the parent who is a victim of domestic abuse can be made. 

Furthermore, when domestic violence has occurred the court may:

  • Order an exchange of a child to occur in a protected setting;
  • Order contact to be supervised by another person or agency;
  • Order the parent who has committed domestic abuse to attend and complete to the satisfaction of the court a domestic abuse intervention program or other designated counseling as a condition of the contact;
  • Order either parent to abstain from possession or consumption of alcohol or controlled substances, or both, during the visitation and for 24 hours preceding the contact;
  • Order the parent who has committed domestic abuse to pay a fee to defray the costs of supervised contact;
  • Prohibit overnight parent-child contact; and/or
  • Impose any other condition that is determined necessary to provide for the safety of the child, the victim of domestic abuse or any other family or household member.

Can the Court Order a Parent to Undergo A Mental Evaluation?

Yes.  If you have credible evidence that your child's other parent needs a mental evaluation, it may be a good idea to ask the court to order that parent to undergo a mental evaluation.

Can the Court Order a Parent to Undergo, A Substance Abuse Evaluation, Counseling or Drug Testing?

Yes.  If you have credible evidence that your child's other parent should undergo a substance abuse evaluation, engage in substance abuse counseling or drug testing,  it may be a good idea to ask the court to order that parent to undergo a mental evaluation.

Warning!  Simply reading any page or content of this website or attempting to contact Christopher S. Berryment, Esq. does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor does it guarantee that he will take your case.  Setting up a consultation pursuant to the information on this website also does not guarantee that Mr. Berryment will represent you.  Additionally, the content provided on this website is for advertising purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our office at (207) 364-1476 or submit an email inquiry.



Law Office of
Christopher S. Berryment, Esq.

129 Main Street, Mexico, Maine 04257

Ph. 207-364-1476 | Fax 207-245-1632