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Maine child support, custody, visitation, and wage garnishment rules

Use this Maine child support law to learn about your child support rights and responsibilites.

How is Maine child support determined?

In Maine, the courts may order either parent to provide child support, which could also include health insurance expenses for any minor child.

There are specific Maine Child Support Guidelines, designed to be in the best interests of the child, that the courts use to determine the correct amount of child support. These will be followed, unless both parents agree to an amount other than that calculated by the guidelines, or the courts decide the guidelines would be unjust due to one or more of the following factors:

  • the non-primary residential caretaker is providing residential care over 30% of the time
  • there are more than 6 children requiring support
  • the interrelation of the total child support with property division and spousal support, which are all being decided at the same time
  • the financial resources of the child
  • the financial resources and needs of each parent
  • the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not failed
  • the age and physical and emotional health of the child
  • the educational needs of the child
  • inflation as it relates to the cost of living
  • income and financial contributions of a spouse or domestic associate of each parent
  • other dependents of the parent providing support
  • tax consequences of a support award
  • health insurance premiums that are over 15% of the support award
  • the substantial cost of any transportation for the child (the cost must exceed 15% of his/her total support to be considered substantial)

At what age does child support payments end?

Generally, the obligation ends when the child reaches 18 years of age unless the child is still in high school - in which case the support ends upon the child's graduation from high school, or the child's 19th birthday, whichever occurs first. A child will also automatically be ineligible for child support if that child marries, or becomes a member of the armed services.

Maine's custody guidelines:

Generally, the parents agree upon decisions about custody. If there is no agreement, then the courts will make these custody decisions. In Maine, the custody decisions are based on the best interests of the child, with no preference being given to the parents’ sex or the child’s age or sex. Three different types of custody may be awarded:

  • parental rights and responsibilities for the child are divided between the parents either exclusively or proportionately; these responsibilities include the primary residence, parent-child contact, financial support, education, medical and dental care, religious upbringing, travel boundaries and expenses
  • parental responsibilities are shared equally; most responsibilities are handled by joint decisions, and both parents retain equal rights and responsibilities
  • one parent is granted sole parental rights and responsibilities for the child, except for child support

The courts consider the following factors:

  • the age of the child
  • the ability and desire of each parent to meet the child’s needs
  • the preference of the child, if of sufficient age
  • time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desire of maintaining this stability
  • each parent’s desire and ability to promote an open and loving relationship between the child and the other parent
  • the child’s adjustment to home, school and community settings
  • the relationship the child has with each significant family member
  • the stability of the home environment that each parent is likely to provide
  • a need for stability and continuity for the child
  • parents’ cooperation
  • methods for resolving conflict
  • the effect on the child of being raised by one parent rather than two
  • any history of domestic violence and/or child abuse
  • any other relevant factors that relate to the physical and/or psychological well-being of the child

Maine's medical insurance guidelines:

Generally, the decision as to which parent is going to provide medical insurance coverage for the child and how medical bills will be paid is set out in the marital settlement agreement. However, if it has not been decided, the court may order medical and dental health insurance coverage to be paid by one of the parents. Usually, if a reasonable medical insurance plan is available through one of the parent’s employment, they are required to cover their child on it.

How permanent are the provisions for Maine child support and custody ?

Court orders providing for support and custody of children are subject to change or modification to reflect significant changes in income, and/or living arrangements of the children.

While all orders concerning the children are modifiable in the future, we encourage you to not enter into an agreement based on the idea that it can always be changed or modified later.

Wage garnishment for child support payments:

Yes. Maine, like most states, has a provision for withholding child support directly from the earnings of the parent who has been ordered to provide support. It is withheld much like income tax is withheld from
earnings payments.

This way of paying and receiving child support is generally easier for both parties and considered a very dependable solution. The way it typically works is, once the support is withheld, it is then sent to the state agency authorized to receive and disburse payments. Once it has been verified that the support was paid, it is then sent to the parent designated to receive the support.

If a non-custodial parent can show that they are providing more than 50 percent of the support for dependents not included in the court order from a second marriage, and is not in arrears, no more than 50% of their disposable income can be attached if they cannot pay the full court-ordered amount of both orders.

That number goes to 55% if the non-custodial parent is in arrears, 60 percent for a person only providing support to dependents under the current order, and 65% for a person who is in arrears and paying only on the current order.

How does joint custody work?

The current trend is to encourage parents to work together for the best interests of their children. Joint custody is now widely recognized by parents, courts and state legislatures as the preferred parenting plan for divorcing parents.

Specifically, joint custody is a form of custody of minor children that requires both parents to share the responsibilities of the children, and for both parents to approve all major decisions related to the children.

While joint custody is a 50-50 sharing of responsibilities and major decisions affecting the children, it rarely works out to be a 50-50 sharing of time with the children. Usually one parent is named as the primary joint custodian and the other parent is granted visitation. The primary joint custodian typically retains the decision making power to determine the child’s primary residence and school and to designate things such as the child’s primary physician.

How Maine determines child visitation:

Generally, parents are free to visit with their children at all times that are mutually agreed to by both parents. However, when parents cannot agree, the standard visitation schedule accepted most everywhere in the
nation is:

  • every other weekend
  • four to six (4-6) weeks during the summer
  • alternating holidays
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