Child Support & Paternity
What you should know about the child support in Maine
If you have legal custody of a child, you are entitled to receive child support for that child, even if you aren't a parent of the child. Both parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children. The non-custodial parent is required to pay child support to the custodial parent and these payments must be in money. The custodial parent is presumed to spend that money directly on the child. If you are a legal guardian, the Probate Court in Maine can require both parents to pay you support for the child.
If you need help establishing or enforcing a child support order, or establishing paternity, the Department of Human Services can help you. You don't have to receive public assistance to receive this help and you don't even have to live in this State. If you do receive public assistance, you have assigned your right to support to the State and the DSER will act to establish a support obligation, even if you don't ask them to. You are required to cooperate with DSER and our office in establishing this obligation. However, if you are receiving public assistance and believe there is a good reason why the Department shouldn't establish support for your child, you may be able to claim "good cause" (see How do I make a claim of good cause? What evidence do I need to support a claim of good cause?
If the Department helps you, your case may never go to court. The Department has many administrative processes and can establish and collect child support without going to court. However, sometimes an action must be filed in District Court. When this happens, an Assistant Attorney General (AAG) from our division will help the Department in court.
Child Support AAGs help the Department establish paternity of children born out-of-wedlock, establish and amend child support obligations and collect child support through asset and property seizure, contempt proceedings and criminal actions. If an AAG represents the Department in court, the AAG will be concerned with the State's interest in collecting child support for children in Maine. Sometimes the State's interest conflicts with the personal interests of the custodian of the child. Because of this, it is important for the parties to understand that the AAG is not like a private attorney. The AAG cannot maintain confidentiality and there is no attorney-client relationship between any party and the AAG.
If an AAG files a child support action in court or defends against an action filed by a non-custodial parent, it is important for parties to understand that the AAG can only deal with issues related to paternity and child support. The AAG cannot deal with issues related to child custody or visitation. The AAG may also handle multiple cases involving a non-custodial parent. The AAG will not favor one family over another.
Once a court order is established, DSER will use its best efforts to collect the child support owed. However, the potential for success depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. DSER cannot guarantee child support will actually be paid.
We have child support AAGs and paralegals throughout the State in offices in Portland, Augusta, Bangor and Caribou. Unless you have received notice that an AAG is currently involved in a child support case involving you, please don't contact AAGs with general child support questions. Instead, you should contact DSER by one of the following means:
Custodial parents: For questions about the status of your child support case please write to: Division of Support Enforcement and Recover, Case Review Unit, 11 State House Station, Whitten Road, Augusta, ME 04330; or e-mail Case.Review@maine.gov. For questions related to child support collections in your case, please call: 624-7830 or 1-800-371-7179.
Non-custodial parents: For questions about your child support case, please contact your enforcement agent directly. A listing of offices/divisions can be found at www.maine.gov/dhhs.
- The Volunteer Lawyers Project
"The VLP's primary mission has always been to maximize the quantity and quality of pro bono assistance Maine's bar can provide to the state's low-income community." (1-800-442-4293)
- Pine Tree Legal Assistance
"Pine Tree Legal Assistance is a non-profit corporation providing legal assistance to people in the State of Maine whose income is one hundred twenty-five percent of the federal income poverty guidelines or less."
- Child Support Forms
Includes all court forms necessary to file an action to establish, modify or enforce a child support obligation.
- Division of Support Enforcement and Recovery (DSER)
"This division is responsible for the development and implementation of the rules, regulations, policies and procedures necessary to assure that all non-custodial parents are contributing to the economic support of their children."
- DHS Local Offices Listing
- Maine Child Support Enforcement Manual - Chapter 7 (Word)
- Federal Poverty Guidelines
- National Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA)
"NCSEA's mission is to promote the well-being of children through professional development of its membership, advocacy and public awareness."
- Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE)
- Center for Law & Social Policy (CLASP)
"CLASP is a national non-profit organization with expertise in both law and policy affecting the poor. Through education, policy research and advocacy, CLASP seeks to improve the economic security of low-income families with children and secure access for low-income persons to our civil justice system."