Shared parental rights is the optimum way for two parties to share custody. In Maine, shared parental rights mean that both parties have equal responsibility and decision-making power in the minor child's life. The child can live with one parent or, in a shared physical custody situation, spend time equally between two homes. Yet, what happens when one parent gets a better job in another state or gets married and needs to relocate? Maine has established rules to govern a party's relocation under a shared parental custody order.
Under Maine family law, the court is required to inform parents of their duty to provide notice, upon deciding to relocate, in all shared parental rights and responsibility custody orders. Any parent who needs to relocate must provide the other parent with at least 30 days' notice. If the relocation is urgent and will take place in less than 30 days, the parent must give notice as soon as possible. If the parent who is relocating feels providing notice to the other parent could potentially place the minor child at risk, the court will make sure the notification occurs in a manner that places the minor child's safety as an ultimate concern.
Modification of Custody Order
Either parent can file to modify an existing custody order. A modification can either request a change in the terms of the order to reflect the fact that one party is living in another state or can request physical custody remain with the parent not relocating. The 30-day time frame provides a parent with a chance to modify a final order if he feels that relocation is not in the best interests of the minor child.
Substantial Change in Circumstances
In order for a parent, who is sharing parental custody, to establish the need for an existing custody order to be modified, he or she must show that circumstances support the modification, for example, one parent moving or planning to move to a new state or one parent moving or planning to move more than 50 miles from the current residence. In both situations, the parent filing for modification must show the move will significantly disrupt the current visitation and/or custody schedule.
If a modification order is filed, this does not mean the moving parent will be forced to postpone their relocation. Often courts will issue a temporary order, setting up a temporary visitation and/or custody schedule until the modification action is complete. The temporary order can go either way -- sometimes allowing the child to relocate with one parent or requiring she remain with the parent who is not moving.