Parental Rights & Responsibilities Cases (unmarried parents)

If a court order is not in place, Maine law presumes that parents have equal rights and responsibilities to care for and raise their children. Parents also have a duty to support their children financially, to the extent they are able.

If an unmarried parent would like a court order stating each parent’s rights and responsibilities to make decisions about the children, this type of case is called a “Parental Rights and Responsibilities” or "PR&R" case. A PR&R case focuses only on issues regarding the children. Unlike in a divorce case, a PR&R case cannot deal with other issues, such as dividing property. For more information, see Unmarried Partners

When married parents are no longer living together, parental rights and responsibilities for children may be decided in a divorce order. For more information, see the Divorce page.

Common issues 

Do I need a lawyer?

Many people do not hire lawyers when asking for a PR&R order. However, if you are able, you may want to talk to a lawyer about the process. Get Legal Help.

This is especially important when:

  • You and the other parent disagree about decisions affecting your children; or
  • There is a history or threat of domestic violence in the household. 

How do I start a PR&R case?

Information on the process and court forms can be found on the Court Process in a Family Matters Case page.