Maine Grandparents Visitation Law


Divorce – Grandparents Visitation – Maine

Short title
This chapter is known and may be cited as the “Grandparents Visitation Act.”
Title 19A, Chap. 59, § 1801

Definitions
As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings:

Grandparent. “Grandparent” is a biological or adoptive parent of a child’s biological or adoptive parent. “Grandparent” includes a biological or adoptive parent of a child’s biological or adoptive parent whose parental rights have been terminated pursuant to Title 18-A, section 9-204 or Title 22, chapter 1071, subchapter VI, but only until the child’s adoption.
Title 19A, Chap. 59, § 1802

Petition
Standing to petition for visitation rights. A grandparent of a minor child may petition the court for reasonable rights of visitation or access if:

At least one of the child’s parents or legal guardians has died;

There is a sufficient existing relationship between the grandparent and the child; or

When a sufficient existing relationship between the grandparent and the child does not exist, a sufficient effort to establish one has been made.

Procedure
The following procedures apply to petitions for rights of visitation or access under subsection 1, paragraph B or C:

The grandparent must file with the petition for rights of visitation or access an affidavit alleging a sufficient existing relationship with the child, or that sufficient efforts have been made to establish a relationship with the child. When the petition and accompanying affidavit are filed with the court, the grandparent shall serve a copy of both on at least one of the parents or legal guardians of the child.

The parent or legal guardian of the child may file an affidavit in response to the grandparent’s petition and accompanying affidavit. When the affidavit in response is filed with the court, the parent or legal guardian shall deliver a copy to the grandparent.

The court shall determine on the basis of the petition and the affidavit whether it is more likely than not that there is a sufficient existing relationship or, if a sufficient relationship does not exist, that a sufficient effort to establish one has been made.

If the court’s determination under paragraph C is in the affirmative, the court shall hold a hearing on the grandparent’s petition for reasonable rights of visitation or access and shall consider any objections the parents or legal guardians may have concerning the award of rights of visitation or access to the grandparent. The standard for the award of reasonable rights of visitation or access is provided in subsection 3.

Best interest of the child
The court may grant a grandparent reasonable rights of visitation or access to a minor child upon finding that rights of visitation or access are in the best interest of the child and would not significantly interfere with any parent-child relationship or with the parent’s rightful authority over the child. In applying this standard, the court shall consider the following factors:

The age of the child;

The relationship of the child with the child’s grandparents, including the amount of previous contact;

The preference of the child, if old enough to express a meaningful preference;

The duration and adequacy of the child’s current living arrangements and the desirability of maintaining continuity;

The stability of any proposed living arrangements for the child;

The motivation of the parties involved and their capacities to give the child love, affection and guidance;

The child’s adjustment to the child’s present home, school and community;

The capacity of the parent and grandparent to cooperate or to learn to cooperate in child care;

Methods of assisting cooperation and resolving disputes and each person’s willingness to use those methods; and

Any other factor having a reasonable bearing on the physical and psychological well-being of the child.

Modification or termination
The court may modify or terminate any rights granted under this section as circumstances require. Modification or termination of rights must be consistent with this section.

Enforcement
The court may issue any orders necessary to enforce orders issued under this section or to protect the rights of parties.

Costs and fees
The court may award costs, including reasonable attorney’s fees, for defending or prosecuting actions under this chapter.
Title 19A, Chap. 59, § 1803

Mediation
The court may refer the parties to mediation at any time after the petition is filed and may require that the parties have made a good faith effort to mediate the issue before holding a hearing. If the court finds that either party failed to make a good faith effort to mediate, the court may order the parties to submit to mediation, dismiss the action or any part of the action, render a decision or judgment by default, assess attorney’s fees and costs or impose any other sanction that is appropriate in the circumstances. The court may also impose an appropriate sanction upon a party’s failure without good cause to appear for mediation after receiving notice of the scheduled time for mediation.

An agreement reached by the parties through mediation on an issue must be reduced to writing, signed by the parties and presented to the court for approval as a court order.
Title 19A, Chap. 59 § 1804

Jurisdiction
An action may be commenced in the District Court for the district in which the minor child resides. If a child protective proceeding pursuant to Title 22, chapter 1071 that involves the minor child is pending, the court may consolidate the action filed under this chapter with that child protection proceeding.

An action must be commenced in accordance with the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure. Proceedings under this chapter are governed by the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure.
Title 19A, Chap. 59, § 1805