Maine Revised Statutes

§1803. Petition

1. Standing to petition for visitation rights.  A grandparent of a minor child may petition the court for reasonable rights of visitation or access if:
A. At least one of the child's parents or legal guardians has died; [1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 (NEW); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF).]
B. There is a sufficient existing relationship between the grandparent and the child; or [1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 (NEW); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF).]
C. When a sufficient existing relationship between the grandparent and the child does not exist, a sufficient effort to establish one has been made. [1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 (NEW); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF).]
[ 1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 (NEW); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF) .]
2. Procedure.  The following procedures apply to petitions for rights of visitation or access under subsection 1, paragraph B or C.
A. 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. [1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 (NEW); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF).]
B. 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. [1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 (NEW); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF).]
C. 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. [1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 (NEW); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF).]
D. If the court's determination under paragraph C is in the affirmative, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem as provided in section 1507. 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. If the court has appointed a guardian ad litem, the court shall also consider the report of the guardian ad litem. The standard for the award of reasonable rights of visitation or access is provided in subsection 3. [2005, c. 360, §3 (AMD).]
[ 2005, c. 360, §3 (AMD) .]
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:
A. The age of the child; [1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 (NEW); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF).]
B. The relationship of the child with the child's grandparents, including the amount of previous contact; [1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 (NEW); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF).]
C. The preference of the child, if old enough to express a meaningful preference; [1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 (NEW); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF).]
D. The duration and adequacy of the child's current living arrangements and the desirability of maintaining continuity; [1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 (NEW); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF).]
E. The stability of any proposed living arrangements for the child; [1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 (NEW); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF).]
F. The motivation of the parties involved and their capacities to give the child love, affection and guidance; [1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 (NEW); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF).]
G. The child's adjustment to the child's present home, school and community; [1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 (NEW); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF).]
H. The capacity of the parent and grandparent to cooperate or to learn to cooperate in child care; [1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 (NEW); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF).]
I. Methods of assisting cooperation and resolving disputes and each person's willingness to use those methods; [2001, c. 665, §5 (AMD).]
J. Any other factor having a reasonable bearing on the physical and psychological well-being of the child; and [2001, c. 665, §5 (AMD).]
K. The existence of a grandparent's conviction for a sex offense or a sexually violent offense as those terms are defined in Title 34-A, section 11203. [2001, c. 665, §6 (NEW).]
[ 2001, c. 665, §§5, 6 (AMD) .]
4. 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.
[ 1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 (NEW); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF) .]
5. Enforcement.  The court may issue any orders necessary to enforce orders issued under this section or to protect the rights of parties.
[ 1995, c. 694, Pt. B, §2 (NEW); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF) .]
6. Costs and fees. 
[ 2005, c. 323, §13 (RP) .]
7. Supervision required; convictions for sexual offenses.  Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the court may award a grandparent who is convicted of a child-related sexual offense visitation with a minor grandchild only if the court finds that contact between the grandparent and the child is in the best interest of the child and that adequate provision for the safety of the child can be made. For purposes of this section, "child-related sexual offense" has the same meaning as in section 1653, subsection 6-A.
The court may require that visitation may occur only if there is another person or agency present to supervise visitation. If the court allows a family or household member to supervise grandparent-child contact, the court shall establish conditions to be followed during that contact. Conditions include, but are not limited to, those that:
A. Minimize circumstances when the family of the grandparent who is a sex offender or sexually violent predator would be supervising visits; [2001, c. 665, §7 (NEW).]
B. Ensure the safety and well-being of the child; and [2001, c. 665, §7 (NEW).]
C. Require that supervision be provided by a person who is physically and mentally capable of supervising a visit and who does not have a criminal history or history of abuse or neglect. [2001, c. 665, §7 (NEW).]
[ 2001, c. 665, §7 (NEW) .]
8. Conviction or adjudication for certain sex offenses; presumption.  There is a rebuttable presumption that the grandparent would create a situation of jeopardy for the child if any contact were to be permitted and that contact is not in the best interest of the child if the court finds that the grandparent:
A. Has been convicted of an offense listed in section 1653, subsection 6-A, paragraph A in which the victim was a minor at the time of the offense and the grandparent was at least 5 years older than the minor at the time of the offense except that, if the offense was gross sexual assault under Title 17-A, section 253, subsection 1, paragraph B or C, or an offense in another jurisdiction that involves conduct that is substantially similar to that contained in Title 17-A, section 253, subsection 1, paragraph B or C, and the minor victim submitted as a result of compulsion, the presumption applies regardless of the ages of the grandparent and the minor victim at the time of the offense; or [2007, c. 513, §4 (AMD).]
B. Has been adjudicated in an action under Title 22, chapter 1071 of sexually abusing a person who was a minor at the time of the abuse. [2005, c. 366, §4 (NEW).]
The grandparent seeking contact with the child may present evidence to rebut the presumption.
[ 2007, c. 513, §4 (AMD) .]
SECTION HISTORY
1995, c. 694, §B2 (NEW). 1995, c. 694, §E2 (AFF). 2001, c. 665, §§5-7 (AMD). 2005, c. 323, §13 (AMD). 2005, c. 360, §3 (AMD). 2005, c. 366, §4 (AMD). 2007, c. 513, §4 (AMD).