Is There An Age At Which A Child Can Decide Which Parent They Want To Live With?
Maine law does not specify a specific age at which a child can decide where he or she will live. If the child is old enough to have a meaningful preference, the court can take their input into consideration. The court would need to understand the underlying reason a child might select to reside with one parent over the other. For example, if the child chooses one parent over the other because they are “fun,” then that might not actually be in the best interests of the child, especially if they are not doing well in school. Instead of residing with a “fun” parent, the child might benefit from residing with a parent who provides more guidance and structure. Age certainly plays a role in where a child will reside. For example, parents may have a difficult time controlling where a 17-year-old with a driver’s license chooses to reside, regardless of what the court order dictates.
Can Child Support Ever Be Changed Or Modified In Maine?
Child support is governed by the child support guidelines in Maine. The formula that has been developed creates a legal presumption that parents who are earning certain amounts of income are required to pay a certain amount for the support of a child. In making this determination, the first question is which parent is the primary parent of the child. Once that’s been established, the gross annual income for each parent is considered, and the two incomes generate a combined household income. In other words, if both parents were making $20,000 a year, then the combined household income would be $40,000 a year and the relative contribution by each parent would be 50 percent. If, on the other hand, one parent makes $20,000 a year and the other parent makes $40,000 a year, then the combined household income would be $60,000 a year, and one parent would contribute 33 percent while the other parent would contribute 66 percent.
Once the combined household income is established and the relative percentages are determined, health insurance and daycare costs for children 12 years and under would be added to the figure. The sum of these three numbers would provide the total child support entitlement, and the non-residential parent would contribute their percentage of that entitlement to the residential parent. If one parent seeks to deviate from the required amount of child support based on the guidelines, then they would need to provide a valid reason as to why a deviation is justified.
In a shared residential parenting arrangement and both parents generate relatively equal incomes, child support would not be paid by either parent. If there is a significant difference in the relative incomes of the parties, then the higher income parent would pay child support to the other parent. The guidelines would factor in the amount of time that the higher income parent spends with the children.
If there is a change in circumstances that would impact the child support obligation by 15 percent or more at any point, then the child support order could be modified. If three years have passed since an initial child support order was generated, then there would be no need to show a change in circumstances because Maine law provides for an automatic review. There is no age-dependent difference in child support entitlements.
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