Parental Rights in Maine

Maine Parental Rights News

2017 Legislative Summary

2017 State Legislative Recap

June 7, 2017

In most states, the 2017 legislative session has finished up or is winding down. Eight state legislatures work year-round or at least for several more months, and five others are poised to adjourn unofficially in a few days (but officially are year-round, too). That leaves 37 states ready to head home for the summer. Among…

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Maine State Law and Parental Rights

At Risk

Maine does not have a state statute that explicitly defines and protects parental rights as fundamental rights.

LD 472 (2017) would have put into black and white that the rights of parents are fundamental and deserve the protection of strict scrutiny; however, the bill did not pass.

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Maine Courts and Parental Rights

"Strict Scrutiny" Applied to Parental Rights

Maine courts have a precedent of protecting parental rights as fundamental rights receiving strict scrutiny protection. This precedent is based in part on the US Supreme Court's Troxel ruling, which means Maine's standard could change to reflect Troxel's lower standard of review, but so far no erosion seems to have taken place. However, this precedent is subject to change.

  • In Rideout v. Riendeau, 761 A.2d 291, at 299-300 (2000), the Maine Supreme Court held that, based on the U.S Supreme Court's Troxel ruling, the due process clause "provides heightened protection against state intervention in parents' fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children... [which] mandates strict scrutiny."
  • In re Guardianship of David C., 10 A.3d 684, 686 (Me. 2010), the Maine Supreme Court stated the following:

We have, however, "consistently recognized, absent a showing of unfitness, parents' fundamental liberty interest with respect to the care, custody, and control of their children." Guardianship of Jewel M., 2010 ME 80, ¶ 6, 2 A.3d 301, 303-04; Guardianship of Jewel M., 2010 ME 17, ¶ 12, 989 A.2d 726, 729; Guardianship of Jeremiah T., 2009 ME 74, ¶ 27, 976 A.2d at 962; Rideout v. Riendeau, 2000 ME 198, ¶ 18, 761 A.2d 291, 299; see also Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 65-66, 69, 72, 120 S. Ct. 2054, 147 L. Ed. 2d 49 (2000). (emphasis added)