Maine Revised Statutes

§4007. Conducting proceedings

1. Procedures.  All child protection proceedings shall be conducted according to the rules of civil procedure and the rules of evidence, except as provided otherwise in this chapter. All the proceedings shall be recorded. All proceedings and records shall be closed to the public, unless the court orders otherwise.
[ 1985, c. 495, §17 (AMD) .]
1-A. Nondisclosure of certain identifying information.  This subsection governs the disclosure of certain identifying information.
A. At each proceeding, the court shall inquire whether there are any court orders in effect at the time of the proceeding that prohibit contact between the parties and participants. If such an order is in effect at the time of the proceeding, the court shall keep records that pertain to the protected person’s current or intended address or location confidential, subject to disclosure only as authorized in this section. Any records in the file that contain such information must be sealed by the clerk and not disclosed to other parties or their attorneys or authorized agents unless the court orders the disclosure to be made after a hearing in which the court takes into consideration the health, safety or liberty of the protected person and determines that the disclosure is in the interests of justice. [2007, c. 351, §2 (NEW).]
B. If, at any stage of the proceedings, a party or a participant alleges in an affidavit or a pleading under oath that the health, safety or liberty of the person would be jeopardized by disclosure of information pertaining to the person’s current or intended address or location, the court shall keep records that contain the information confidential, subject to disclosure only as authorized in this section. Upon receipt of the affidavit or pleading, the records in the file that contain such information must be sealed by the clerk and not disclosed to other parties or participants or their attorneys or authorized agents unless the court orders the disclosure to be made after a hearing in which the court takes into consideration the health, safety or liberty of the person seeking protection and determines that the disclosure is in the interests of justice. [2007, c. 351, §2 (NEW).]
C. If the current or intended address or location of a party or participant is required to be kept confidential under paragraph A or B, and the current or intended address or location of that person is a material fact necessary to the proceeding, the court shall hear the evidence outside of the presence of the person and the person’s attorney from whom the information is being kept confidential unless the court determines after a hearing that takes into consideration the health, safety or liberty of the protected person that the exclusion of the party or participant is not in the interests of justice. If such evidence is taken outside the presence of a party or participant, the court shall take measures to prevent the excluded person and the person’s attorney from accessing the recorded information and the information must be redacted in printed transcripts. [2007, c. 351, §2 (NEW).]
D. Records that are required to be maintained by the court as confidential under this subsection may be disclosed to:
(1) A state agency if necessary to carry out the statutory function of that agency;
(2) A guardian ad litem appointed to the case; or
(3) A criminal justice agency, as defined by Title 16, section 703, subsection 4, if necessary to carry out the administration of criminal justice or the administration of juvenile justice, and such disclosure is otherwise permitted pursuant to section 4008.
In making such disclosure, the court shall order the party receiving the information to maintain the information as confidential. [2013, c. 267, Pt. B, §18 (AMD).]
[ 2013, c. 267, Pt. B, §18 (AMD) .]
2. Interviewing children.  The court may interview a child witness in chambers, with only the guardian ad litem and counsel present, provided that the statements made are a matter of record. The court may admit and consider oral or written evidence of out-of-court statements made by a child, and may rely on that evidence to the extent of its probative value.
[ 1979, c. 733, §18 (NEW) .]
3. Motion for examination.  At any time during the proceeding, the court may order that a child, parent, alleged parent, person frequenting the household or having custody at the time of the alleged abuse or neglect, any other party to the action or person seeking care or custody of the child be examined pursuant to the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 35.
[ 1989, c. 270, §1 (AMD) .]
3-A. Report of licensed mental health professional.  In any hearing held in connection with a child protection proceeding under this chapter, the written report of a licensed mental health professional who has treated or evaluated the child shall be admitted as evidence, provided that the party seeking admission of the written report has furnished a copy of the report to all parties at least 21 days prior to the hearing. The report shall not be admitted as evidence without the testimony of the mental health professional if a party objects at least 7 days prior to the hearing. This subsection does not apply to the caseworker assigned to the child.
[ 1989, c. 226, (NEW) .]
4. Interstate compact.  The provisions of the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children, sections 4251 to 4269, if in effect and ratified by the other state involved, apply to proceedings under this chapter; otherwise, the provisions of the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children, sections 4191 to 4247, apply to proceedings under this chapter. Any report submitted pursuant to the compact is admissible in evidence for purposes of indicating compliance with the compact and the court may rely on evidence to the extent of its probative value.
[ 2007, c. 255, §4 (AMD) .]
5. Records. 
[ 2005, c. 300, §1 (RP) .]
6. Benefits and support for children in custody of department.  When a child has been ordered into the custody of the department under this chapter, Title 15, chapter 507 or Title 19-A, chapter 55, within 30 days of the order, each parent shall provide the department with information necessary for the department to make a determination regarding the eligibility of the child for state, federal or other 3rd-party benefits and shall provide any necessary authorization for the department to apply for these benefits for the child.
Prior to a hearing under section 4034, subsection 4, section 4035 or section 4038, each parent shall file income affidavits as required by Title 19-A, sections 2002 and 2004 unless current information is already on file with the court. If a child is placed in the custody of the department, the court shall order child support from each parent according to the guidelines pursuant to Title 19-A, chapter 63, designate each parent as a nonprimary care provider and apportion the obligation accordingly.
Income affidavits and instructions must be provided to each parent by the department at the time of service of the petition or motion. The court may order a deviation pursuant to Title 19-A, section 2007. Support ordered pursuant to this section must be paid directly to the department pursuant to Title 19-A, chapter 65, subchapter IV. The failure of a parent to file an affidavit does not prevent the entry of a protection order. A parent may be subject to Title 19-A, section 2004, subsection 1, paragraph D for failure to complete and file income affidavits.
[ 1995, c. 694, Pt. D, §37 (AMD); 1995, c. 694, Pt. E, §2 (AFF) .]
SECTION HISTORY
1979, c. 733, §18 (NEW). 1983, c. 772, §4 (AMD). 1983, c. 783, §3 (AMD). 1985, c. 495, §17 (AMD). 1985, c. 506, §§A41,42 (AMD). 1989, c. 226, (AMD). 1989, c. 270, §1 (AMD). 1991, c. 840, §6 (AMD). 1993, c. 248, §1 (AMD). 1995, c. 694, §D37 (AMD). 1995, c. 694, §E2 (AFF). 2005, c. 300, §1 (AMD). 2007, c. 255, §4 (AMD). 2007, c. 351, §2 (AMD). 2013, c. 267, Pt. B, §18 (AMD).