Each state has domestic violence laws that criminalize violent acts committed between family or household members. Domestic violence is a serious offense and a conviction can greatly impact a parent's child custody and parental rights.
What's Domestic Violence?
In Maine, domestic violence (referred to as "domestic violence assault") occurs when an actor assaults a family or household member. Each state individually defines which relationships constitute a "family or household member," and within Maine only the following relations qualify:
The table below outlines Maine's domestic violence law.
|Maine Revised Statutes 17-A section 207-A: Domestic Violence Assault|
Assaulting a family or household member.
What Constitutes an "Assault?"
|A person is guilty of assault if:
Domestic violence assault is generally a Class D crime that is punishable by up to 364 days in jail, and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
However, domestic violence assault is a Class C crime and is punishable by up to five years in jail, and/or a fine of up to $5,000 if at the time of the offense the offender has one or more prior convictions for:
Domestic Violence and Child Custody
The court makes child custody decisions based on the best interest of the child(ren). There are several factors that the court takes into account when making this determination, including whether or not there have been acts of domestic violence between the parents or between one of the parents and the child. While previous acts of domestic violence don't automatically preclude a parent from being awarded custody of the couple's child, it is a main factor that the court takes into consideration when determining a child's custody arrangement.
Modification or Termination of Parental Rights
In situations involving extreme instances of domestic abuse the court has the power to terminate an abusive parent's parental rights. The court may modify an order for parental rights if there is a substantial change in circumstances, such as a newly confirmed act of domestic violence. For example, if a court finds that domestic or family violence has occurred since the last determination of a child's primary residence, then the court can modify or terminate the abusive parent's parental rights.
If you are a domestic violence survivor there is help available. During an emergency dial 911 and when you're safe contact the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence.
Contact a qualified attorney.