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What is Child Support and When Does it Occur in Maine?

In Maine, parents are obligated by state law to support their children’s financial, emotional and physical needs. They are required to honor this legal obligation through child support payments. The state judiciary enforces this action by issuing child support court orders according to state child support guidelines. In most cases, the parent who does not live with the children sends these periodic payments to the primary caregiver with the custody of the child or children involved.

Maine’s Division of Support Enforcement and Recovery (DSER) of the Department of Health and Human Services oversees payment and collection of child support payments as required by

federal and state laws

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the document or person involved

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.

What is Maine Child Support?

Child support in Maine constitutes a parental responsibility that requires parents to support their children financially. It involves regular payments to the primary caregiver whom the children spend most of their time with from the other parent. This monetary payment is usually used to address the children’s basic needs such as feeding and accommodation costs. The extent of these payments usually depends on the parents’ incomes, number of children and the court’s judgment.

The child support court order that establishes the obligation must include information such as;

  • The children’s names
  • The date that the order was established in court
  • The beginning date of the support obligation
  • Details of the obligation including the amount for basic support, child care costs, medical costs, health insurance premiums, etc.

What Does Child Support Cover in Maine?

Child support in the state primarily covers childcare costs and extraordinary medical costs according to state guidelines.

These generally include:

  • Necessities such as food, housing, and clothing.:
  • Medical care, including uninsured medical expenses
  • Educational costs
  • Childcare
  • Entertainment costs such as access to electronic gadgets
  • Transportation, travel or vacations
  • Extracurricular activities

What is the Average Child Support Payment in Maine?

Pursuant to state child support laws, parents are supposed to provide child support to the extent of their ability. This implies that child support payments are awarded based on the parents’ incomes; therefore, child support payments vary by case. The courts determine their incomes by asking the parents to fill out a Child Support Affidavit (FM–050), which must be signed before the clerk of court or an attorney, and the parents then exchange their copies. With the information provided in these documents, the state laws allow parents to make child support agreements based on their terms. Afterward, the court judge reviews it to ensure that the agreed amount serves the child’s best interest.

If the court disagrees with the parents, it decides child support awards according to Maine’s child support guidelines. The guidelines consider the following factors when determining child support:

  • Parents’ combined incomes
  • If the annual gross income of the paying parent is less than the federal poverty guideline
  • Cost of child’s health insurance
  • The paying parent’s financial obligation and subsistence needs
  • The parental time plan
  • The child’s extraordinary medical expenses
  • If the parents’ combined annual income exceeds $400,000

Along with these factors, the court judge must also determine child support obligation by calculating how much each parent spent on the child while they lived as a family. The value derived is then divided according to each parent’s income to arrive at a final child support obligation amount. The parents will be sharing the obligation based on their income share

However, on rare occasions, the judge can deviate from the state’s formula if the established amount does not seem fair. Notwithstanding, the child support payment must not make it impossible for the parents to deal with their personal expenses. Hence, the arrangement must be fair to all parties in the child support case.

Overall, although there is no specific figure stated as the average child support payment in Maine, the child support guidelines mandate that the weekly parental obligation of paying parents whose annual gross income is less than the federal poverty level may not exceed 10% of their weekly income.

How Do I Apply for Child Support in Maine?

Parents seeking assistance with paying or receiving child support payments can apply for child support services through the online portal. They must download the application and fill it out with the necessary information before the department can open a case for them. Also, they must provide the following documents to complete the application process:

  • Child’s birth records if the child was born in Maine
  • Certified birth records if the child was born outside the state
  • A complete Maine court order or 3 certified copies from another state
  • Statement of child support payment history.

If the applicant is not a parent, they must provide a copy of a guardianship order.

How Do I Get Out of Paying Child Support in Maine?

A parent in Maine can get out of paying child support when the legal obligation is terminated. Child support in Maine is closed when the child turns 18 unless the judge extends the payment obligation under exceptional circumstances.

Also, if the court judge terminates an individual’s parental rights, the legal obligation of paying child support is stopped. The court may annul these rights if it is in the child’s best interests or if the court determines that the parent is unwilling or unable to protect the child. This happens especially if the parent abandons the child and the court finds the individual unfit to take responsibility for the child.

In addition, child support obligations are a necessity and thereby not waivable. Instead, if a paying parent cannot fulfill the court’s child support orders due to substantial change in circumstances, the order may be modified or changed. Such significant changes include situations that the parent has no control over, such as serious illnesses, incarceration and involuntary unemployment. According to the state child support guidelines, the state courts will typically consider a modification under the following circumstances:

  • If the paying parents’ income increases or decreases by 15%
  • If it has been 3 years since the child support order was issued

The parents can modify child support by signing an agreement together or through the court and the Child Support Services.

What is Back Child Support in Maine?

Back child support in Maine is unpaid child maintenance. It is the portion of the court-ordered payment that the paying parent fails to pay to the custodial parent. In broader terms, according to the state’s enforcement manual, back child support is otherwise referred to as overdue support. It is a delinquency of an obligation for support and maintenance of a child. Although the support payments are established under a court order, they are owed on behalf of the child to the primary caregiver with whom the child is living.

In Maine, failure to obey the court’s order on these child support payments is an offense punishable by jail time, amongst other things.

How do I Get Back Child Support Paid in Maine?

Willful failure to pay child support is an offense in Maine. Parents seeking ways to collect owed child support payments may commence the enforcement process by reporting the defaulting parent. Maine’s Division of Support Enforcement and Recovery (DSER) works directly with the Department of Health and Human Services to help parents pay and receive child support payments. The department enforces child support payments through the following actions:

  • Tracking down the delinquent parent’s bank account and instructing the bank to withdraw child support.
  • Enforcing a wage withholding order that requires the delinquent parent’s employer to tap child support directly from their wages or salary
  • Enforcing liens against property in cases where the child support payment is owed for more than 30 days.
  • Revoking or suspending a delinquent parent’s recreational, driver’s, and or professional license until the parent honors the obligation.

Additionally, the affected parent can file child support contempt of court charges in Maine. In this situation, the petitioning party must demonstrate that the paying parent has intentionally failed to honor the court’s child support order despite being able to pay. Any paying parent convicted of these charges might be incarcerated.

Other times, the court may allow the parents to have a mediation session where a court-appointed person will help them reach an agreement.

Is there a Maine Statute of Limitation on Child Support?

No, there is no statute of limitations on enforcement of child back support in Maine. Consequently, custodial parents who are being owed child support in the state can take legal action to enforce payment at any time. However, for these payments to be enforceable, the agreement must be in writing. It must also be dated and signed by both parties. The written agreement must contain detailed descriptions of the terms and conditions of the payment.

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