Child Custody

Northern New England Child Custody Attorneys

Child custody, also known as parental rights and responsibilities in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, can be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce case. Even when all other issues can be resolved more or less amicably, matters related to children are often among the most difficult to work out.

For help with a parental rights and responsibilities matter in New Hampshire, Maine or Vermont, talk with a family law lawyer who knows the law and understands how critical this issue is to parents. Call Pollack Law Group, P.C. (PLG) at 800-934-7287 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.

What Are Parental Rights and Responsibilities in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont?

In New Hampshire, parental rights and responsibilities spells out who makes decisions for your child, who is responsible for providing a home for your child and how the details of decision-making and residential responsibility will work. Vermont and Maine have similar laws. (You may find that judges in all three states still refer to these matters as "child custody," as the term parental rights and responsibilities has only been in place for about a decade.)

Options for Where the Child Lives

Although the terms vary slightly from state to state, the laws in northern New England generally provide several options when it comes to where your child lives. Parents can share residential time, which could mean that a child lives with one parent one week and another parent the next. It could also mean that a child lives with one parent during the week and the other parent on weekends. It could even be that the child lives with one parent during the school year and with the other parent during school vacations.

There also are variations in the types of child custody. In some instances, one parent is awarded all the residential time, with limited visitation by the other parent, though this is increasingly rare. In Maine, an intermediate stage between sole and shared parental rights and responsibilities is "allocated." This means that certain parental rights and responsibilities are the sole province of one parent, with others being assigned to the other parent. For example, one parent may be entirely responsible for the religious upbringing of the child, while the other is solely responsible for where the child lives.

In most cases, assigning parental rights and responsibilities is undertaken with the best interests of the child guiding the outcome. For example, in Vermont, the court looks at several factors to determine what will be in the best interests of the child. These include regular contact with each parent unless abuse is present, as well as agreement between parents about the details of the parenting plan if possible. In New Hampshire, judges take into account each parent's ability to communicate with the other and be effective co-parents. In Maine, the court gives significant weight to stability, length of time the child has lived in the parental home, and the emotional bonds between the child and each of the parties.

Common Issues With Parental Rights and Responsibilities in Northern New England

Although assigning parental rights and responsibilities can seem relatively straightforward in theory, it often is anything but. Parents can refuse to return a child to the other parent as scheduled. Parents may refuse to keep the other parent informed about medical and school issues. One parent may engage in a parental alienation campaign against the other. One parent may move to another state without notifying the other parent or obtaining permission from the court. One parent may constantly try to change the terms of the agreement informally, creating instability for the child and unpredictability for the other parent. Grandparents may try to get involved.

When issues like these arise, the other parent may decide to seek a modification of the parental rights and responsibilities order or file contempt for non-compliance of the order.

Contact PLG With Questions About Parental Rights and Responsibilities in New Hampshire, Maine or Vermont

To learn more about your child custody and visitation options in northern New England, contact PLG Call 800-934-7287 for a free initial consultation at any of our convenient offices in Manchester, Portsmouth, Nashua, Concord or Keene, NH, Portland, ME, or Brattleboro, VT. You can also contact us online.

If you need a modification of your child custody and parenting plan, or if your ex-spouse is seeking a modification that you disagree with, contact the experienced family law attorneys of Pollack Law Group, P.C. at 800-934-7287 or contact us online for a free consultation to discuss your options.