Co-Parenting in Maine: Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents

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Child Custody and Visitation Rights

In Maine, child custody and visitation rights are determined by Title 19 M.R.S.A. §1653 which defines the following two types of custody:

  • Legal custody: Legal custody is the right to make decisions about a minor's health, education, and welfare. The court may grant sole legal custody or joint legal custody to one or both parents. When joint legal custody is granted, both parents have decision making power relating to the child.
  • Physical custody: Physical custody involves the day-to-day care and supervision of the child. The court may grant sole physical custody or joint physical custody. Joint physical custody involves both parents sharing physical custody of the child. Under joint physical custody, the parents will have to work together to make sure the child’s needs are met.

The court will consider a variety of factors when making the determination of custody, including the child’s best interests, the child's relationship with their parents and siblings, any history of domestic abuse or neglect, and each parent’s ability to provide a safe and secure environment for the child. The court also has the authority to award visitation rights to grandparents and other third parties upon request.


Child Support

According to Title 19 M.R.S.A. §1803 and §1973, once custody and visitation have been decided, the court will typically order one or both parents to provide financial support for the minor child. This is known as child support. In Maine, it is the parent’s responsibility to support their children to the best of their ability. The court can order a parent to provide for the child financially for essential care, including any needed medical attention, food, clothing, educational expenses, and other basic needs. The parent ordered to provide support must comply with this order or risk court-ordered sanctions. The court may also order parents to continue providing support for a child after they turn 18 if they are still in high school.


Co-parenting Expenses

In Maine, there are two categories of expenses related to co-parenting:

  • Government Expenses: Government expenses include court costs, attorney's fees, and other related fees.
  • Private Expenses: Private expenses include travel expenses for parental visits, household expenses, daycare costs, medical expenses for the child, educational expenses and other related costs.


Both parents are typically responsible for these expenses, regardless of which parent has primary custody of the child. The court may order one parent to reimburse the other for certain expenses, and both parties will be expected to abide by these court orders.


Parental Rights

Maine law, according to Title 19 M.R.S.A. §1661, states that both parents are equally entitled to their “rights and responsibilities with regard to their children”. This includes both legal and physical rights. For example, legal rights include being allowed to make decisions about the child’s education, health care and other matters. Physical rights include being able to spend physical time with and provide care for the child.


Parents are also expected to have an active role in their children’s lives, and to be involved in their upbringing. This means both attending and participating in extracurricular activities, helping out with schoolwork, and making sure the child is safe and cared for.


Decisions and Parenting Plan

When it comes to co-parenting in Maine, both parents will be expected to make decisions together and in the best interests of the child. This is known as a “parenting plan” and should include details on how the parents will handle matters such as custody, visitation, and decision making. If the parents cannot agree on a plan, the court may order both parties to participate in mediation to try and reach an agreement.


In cases where mediation fails, the court will make the decision based on what they believe is in the best interests of the child. This may or may not be in accordance with either parent’s wishes, depending on the circumstances.


Visitation Rights

Maine law, according to Title 19 M.R.S.A. §1653, grants both parents the right to visitation with their children as long as it is in the best interests of the child. The court will typically decide visitation rights based on the child’s relationship with each parent. Visitation rights may be awarded to the noncustodial parent in the form of regular visitation or “supervised visitation”, where the non-custodial parent must be accompanied by another person such as a family member or state worker.


Visitation rights may also be “temporarily suspended” if the court believes that it is in the best interests of the child. The court may also order one or both parents to attend counseling or parenting classes to become familiar with their parental rights and responsibilities.



In cases where the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the court may order both parents to participate in mediation. This is a form of alternative dispute resolution and is a voluntary process in which a neutral third-party mediator will help the parties try to reach an agreement. The purpose of mediation is to allow the parties to create their own parenting plan. The mediator will not impose a solution on them, but rather, they will help facilitate communication between the parents and help identify areas of agreement and disagreement. The parties may opt to seek professional mediation services or utilize paid professional mediators, depending on their budget and preferences.


In Maine, some of the most common topics that are addressed in mediation include custody arrangements, decision-making rights, visitation rights, and child support. Mediation is not required, but it can be a valuable tool for parents seeking a resolution to co-parenting disputes.



Co-parenting in Maine can be a complex and challenging situation, given the legalities that are involved. It is essential that both parents are aware of their rights, responsibilities and liabilities. This guide provides an overview of the key Maine laws associated with co-parenting, ensuring that both parties have a clear understanding of their legal rights.


Fact Check and Resources

In crafting this post, we conducted thorough fact-checking and research, consulting the following sources:



Co-parenting in USA


Co-parenting in Canada


Warning:  This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.

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