10/30/2018 by ainsworththelinrafticepa
Contact Schedules for Parents and Children (written by Attorney Chris Leddy)
One of the very first concerns parents have when facing a divorce is "When will I see my children?". This is one of the most frightening aspects of Maine Family Law and especially so for many fathers. There is a long standing "expectation" that children will spend more time with their mother. There actually used to be a legal presumption that children under a certain age would reside primarily with their mother. It was known as the "Tender Years" doctrine and it reflected common thinking at the time. Maine’s newest family laws actually mandate the "equal consideration of parents". Despite that language being the law, some are still convinced that fathers get pushed aside.
What Maine’s laws say is that contact schedules need to serve the "best interest of the child (ren)" 19-A MRS 1653(3). Maine law has a set framework for the best interest analysis and it contains 19 factors a Judge must consider. In general, Judges do not want to decide your schedule for you. Judges much prefer situations where the parents have decided how best to divide up the time and make sure the children are well cared for. The schedules that work the best are the ones that all of the parties help to create. The schedule is about the children after all, and they did not choose for their parents to get divorced.
A certain level of inconvenience is expected for the parents and all efforts should be made to create a schedule that preserves the importance of all parental relationships. The studies are very clear that outcomes for children are best when both parents remain connected to the children and maintain positive influences. Each family will be different of course, but the key is focusing on positive outcomes rather than trying to win a particular battle within the litigation. Call John Turcotte or Chris Leddy and discuss your case today.