The Rights of Unmarried Parents - Maine

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Definitions

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-C, § 9-102; Tit. 19-A, §§ 1832; 1881

The following terms have the following meanings:

  • 'Parent' means a person who:
    • Has established a parent-child relationship with the child under title 19-A, chapter 61
    • When no person with an established a parent-child relationship exists, is the legal guardian of the child
  • 'Putative parent' means a person who is the alleged parent of a child but whose parentage has not been legally established.
  • 'Acknowledged father' means a person who has established parentage under title 19-A, chapter 61, subchapter 3.
  • 'Adjudicated parent' means a person who has been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction to be the parent of a child.

A person is presumed to be the parent of a child if any of the following apply:

  • The person and the woman giving birth to the child are married to each other and the child is born during the marriage.
  • The person and the woman giving birth to the child were married to each other and the child is born within 300 days after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, divorce, decree of separation, or declaration of invalidity.
  • Before the birth of the child, the person and the woman giving birth to the child married each other in apparent compliance with the law, even if the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the invalid marriage or within 300 days after its termination.

The marital presumption applies to a legal relationship that provides substantially the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities as marriage and is recognized as valid in the State or jurisdiction in which it was entered.

A person is presumed to be a parent of a child if the person resided in the same household with the child and openly held out the child as that person's own from the time the child was born or adopted and for a period of at least 2 years thereafter and assumed personal, financial, or custodial responsibilities for the child.

Use of Parentage Registries

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Alternate Means to Establish Parentage

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-C, § 9-201; Tit. 19-A, §§ 1861; 1862; 1864; 1865

When the birth parent of a child wishes to consent to the adoption of the child and the putative other parent has not consented or waived the right to notice, the birth parent must file an affidavit of parentage with the court so that the judge may determine how to give notice of the proceedings to the putative other parent. If, after notice, the putative other parent wishes to establish parentage of the child, the other parent must, within 20 days after notice has been given or within a longer period as ordered by the court, petition the court to initiate proceedings to establish parentage under title 19-A, chapter 61.

An acknowledgment of parentage to establish parentage of a child may be signed by either of the following:

  • A person who gave birth to the child and who is not a gestational carrier
  • A person who is the alleged genetic parent of the child and who is not a donor

Before an acknowledgment is executed under § 1861, the person who gave birth and the acknowledging parent must be given oral and written notice of the alternatives to, the legal consequences of, and the rights and responsibilities that arise from signing the acknowledgment.

An acknowledgment of parentage must be signed after the birth of the child and filed with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics and may be contained in a single document or may be signed in counterparts filed separately or simultaneously. An acknowledgment of parentage takes effect on the date of the birth of the child or on the filing of the document with the State registrar, whichever occurs later.

An acknowledgment of parentage signed by a minor is valid if it is otherwise in compliance with this chapter.

A valid acknowledgment of parentage filed with the State registrar is equivalent to an adjudication of parentage of a child and confers upon the acknowledged parent all the rights and duties of a parent.

Required Information

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 19-A, § 1862

An acknowledgment of parentage under § 1861 must include all the following:

  • Be in a record
  • Be signed, or otherwise authenticated, under penalty of perjury by the person giving birth and by the person seeking to establish parentage
  • Provide answers about both of the following:
    • There is no other presumed parent of the child or, if there is another presumed parent, state that parent's full name.
    • There is no other acknowledged parent and no adjudicated parent of the child other than the person giving birth.
  • State whether there has been genetic testing and, if so, that the acknowledging person's claim of parentage is consistent with the results of the testing
  • State that the signatories understand that the acknowledgment is the equivalent of a court determination of parentage of the child and that a challenge to the acknowledgment is permitted only under limited circumstances and is barred after 2 years

Revocation of Claim to Parentage

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 19-A, §§ 1867; 1868; 1869

A signatory may rescind an acknowledgment of parentage by commencing a proceeding to rescind before the earlier of either of the following:

  • Sixty days after the effective date of the acknowledgment of parentage
  • The date of the first hearing in a proceeding to which the signatory is a party before a court to adjudicate an issue relating to the child, including a proceeding seeking child support

After the period for rescission has expired, a signatory of an acknowledgment of parentage may commence a proceeding to challenge the acknowledgment based only on fraud, duress, coercion, threat of harm, or material mistake of fact and within 2 years after the acknowledgment is filed with the State registrar.

Every signatory to an acknowledgment of parentage must be made a party to a proceeding to rescind or challenge the acknowledgment. Except for good cause shown, during the pendency of a proceeding to rescind or challenge an acknowledgment of parentage, the court may not suspend the legal responsibilities of a signatory arising from the acknowledgment, including the duty to pay child support. At the conclusion of the proceeding, the court shall order the State registrar to amend the birth record of the child, if appropriate.

Access to Information

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 19-A, § 1872; Tit. 22, § 2706

The State registrar may release information relating to an acknowledgment of parentage under § 1861 as provided in title 22, § 2706.

Custodians of certificates and records of birth, marriage, and death shall permit inspection of records, or issue certified or noncertified copies of certificates or records, or any parts thereof, when satisfied that the applicant has a direct and legitimate interest in the matter recorded. The decision of the State registrar or the clerk of a municipality is subject to review by the superior court, under the limitations of this section.