Child Support

Maine has adopted child support guidelines promulgated by the Department of Human Services. The guidelines are based on the assumption that a child is entitled to the benefit of income derived by both parents independent of the parents' divorce. There is a rebutable presumption that the calculated amount of child support will be paid by the party not providing primary residential care. The party providing primary residential care is presumed to pay their proportionate share of the child support directly on the child or children. These guidelines were revised and updated in January of 2017, which also eliminated the two tier table and created one table for all children under the age of majority.

A parent obligated to pay child support may request a deviation from the presumptive child support obligation. The criteria that may justify deviation from the support guidelines includes: 1) the non primary residential care provider is in fact providing primary residential care for more than 30% of the time on an annual basis; 2) the number of children for whom support is being determined is greater than six; 3) the interrelation of the total support obligation established under the support guidelines for child support, the division of property and any award of spousal support made in the same proceeding for which a parental support obligation is being determined; 4) the financial resources of the children; 5) the financial resources and needs of a party, including non-recurring income not included in the definition of gross income; 6) the standard of living the child or children would have enjoyed had the marital relationship continued; 7) the physical and emotional conditions of the child or children; 8) the educational needs of the child or children; 9) inflation with relation to the cost of living; l0) available income and financial contributions of the domestic associate or current spouse of each party; 11) the existence of other persons who are actually financially dependent on either party, including, but not limited to, elderly, disabled or infirm relatives, or adult children pursuing post secondary education. If the primary care provider is legally responsible for other minor children who reside in the household and if the computation of a theoretical support obligation on behalf of the primary care provider would result in a significantly greater parental support obligation on the part of the non primary care provider, that factor may be considered; 12) the tax consequences of a support award, including the substantial monetary benefit that a party may derive from any federal tax credit for child care expenses; 13) the fact that the incremental cost of health insurance premiums required to be paid by a party, notwithstanding the deduction of these premiums from gross income, exceeds 15% of that party's share of the total support obligation; 14) the fact that income at a reasonable rate of return may be imputed to non-income-producing assets with an aggregate fair market value of $10,000 or more, other than an ordinary residence or other asset from which the children derive a substantial benefit; l5) the existence of special circumstances regarding a child 12 years of age or over that, for the child's best interest, requires that the primary residential care provider continue to provide for employment-related day care; 16) an obligor party's substantial financial obligation regarding the costs of transportation of the child or children for purposes of parent and child contact (to be considered substantial, the transportation costs must exceed 15% of the yearly support obligation); and 17) a finding by the Court or hearing officer that the application of the support guidelines would be unjust, inappropriate, or not in the child's best interest.

It is also important to note that there is a separate calculation for those situations in which the parties substantially share the residential care of children. Over simplifying this calculation, basically one party's child support obligation to the other party as if the other party had primary residency is subtracted from the other party's obligation to the first party as if he / she had primary residency, that figure is multiplied by 1.5, and if that figure is less than what the party would pay under a "strait guideline" calculation, that would be the resulting child support figure.

In rare circumstances it is possible for the Court to deviate from the guidelines and order the primary caretaker to pay child support to the non primary provider when a non primary provider has the child for a significant portion of the available time.

A Maine divorce Court does not have the authority to award child support for expenses which will be incurred after the child's attainment of majority, including ongoing health insurance or college expenses. However, parents may enter into a binding contractual agreement regarding college expenses, so long as the agreement and obligation is defined and specific. As is true with custodial arrangements, the Court may modify a child support order if necessitated by a substantial change of circumstances.