Legal Information: Maine

Custody

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Can a parent who has been violent get parental rights and responsibilities and/or visitation?

Possibly, yes. When making a decision on parental rights and responsibilities, the judge must consider any history of domestic violence or child abuse.*

The judge must consider how the domestic violence affects the child emotionally and how it affects the child’s safety.*

A judge can let the child’s primary residence be with the abusive parent or let the parent have visitation if safety measures for the child and abused parent are put in place.**  Examples of these safety measures include:

  • Require the visits be supervised by a counselor, agency, or other responsible adult (with the abusive parent paying any fee);
  • Order that the exchange of the child take place in a protected location, supervised by a responsible adult;
  • No overnight visits;
  • Order the abusive parent to go to counseling;
  • Order the abusive parent not to use alcohol or drugs during the visit and for 24 hours before the visit;
  • Anything else that would protect the child and abused parent.***

Note: The law is similar for a parent convicted of a child-related sexual offense (as defined by law in section (6-A)(A)).  The judge in that case can also only place the child with that parent or allow contact if the there are safety precautions in place.  For certain sex offenses, though, the judge has to assume that no contact with that parent is in the child’s best interests but the parent can try to change the judge’s mind.****

* M.R.S.A. 19-A § 1653(3)(L),(M)
** M.R.S.A. 19-A § 1653(6)(A)
*** M.R.S.A. 19-A § 1653(6)(B)
**** M.R.S.A. 19-A § 1653(6-A)(B),(C) & (6-B)