Determining the Best Interests of the Child - Maine

Date: September 2023

Guiding Principles

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4003 

Recognizing that the health and safety of children must be of paramount concern and that the right to family integrity is limited by the right of children to be protected from abuse and neglect, and recognizing also that uncertainty and instability are possible in extended foster home or institutional living, it is the intent of the legislature to do the following:

  • Authorize the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to protect and assist abused and neglected children, children in circumstances that present a substantial risk of abuse and neglect, and their families
  • Provide that children will be removed from the custody of their parents only where failure to do so would jeopardize their health or welfare
  • Require that reasonable efforts be made to rehabilitate and reunify families as a means for protecting the welfare of children, but prevent needless delay for permanent plans for children when rehabilitation and reunification are not possible 
  • Place children who are removed from the custody of their parents with an adult relative, when possible
  • Place children who are removed from the custody of their parents with as many of those children's siblings as possible
  • Promote the early establishment of permanent plans for the care and custody of children who cannot be returned to their family

 Best Interests Factors

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4055(2) 

In deciding to terminate parental rights, the court shall consider the following:

  • The best interests of the child
  • The needs of the child, including the child's age
  • The child's attachments to relevant persons
  • Periods of attachment and separation
  • The child's ability to integrate into a substitute placement or back into the parent's home
  • The child's physical and emotional needs

Other Considerations

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4055-(3) 

The court shall consider the wishes of a child, in a manner appropriate to the age of the child, in making an order under this section.