Legal Questions? / Legal Answers!
Shared Parental Rights...Of Course!
I am posting a "sample" Shared Parental Rights Agreement that has been offered to several Judge's on other's behalf. Not only did the Judge's accept it, they gave credit on how well it was written. This Shared Parental Rights Agreement I will post, includes a spelled out visitation schedule. It also covers other issues as well. I might suggest you copy and paste this in your word program and add your own personal information in before submitting it to be mediated on. During mediation you and the other parent can change any part of this agreement so it serves you both. This Shared Parental Rights Agreement I am posting is what I believe is missing from the "total packet" you get from the court house. Perhaps that is why an Attorney is usually needed to do this. The packet gives you all the required paperwork to fill out and file, but is no help in asking for your Parental Rights. What to ask for, what to expect, what to offer to negotiate. I am hoping this agreement gives both of you a place to start.
"One more very important point I need to make. If the parent who retains residential custody is afraid to sign this agreement, because they are concerned of losing D.H.H.S. benefits, they don't need to be. The parent with residential custody can collect, ( Food Stamps, Mainecare, Taniff ) if they already have a child support order. Don't worry. D.H.H.S. will be there to make sure that support order stays enforced. But really, what's the big deal anyway? Without the agreement, the other parent would still be able to collect benefits. You still would be charged Child Support. Remember what's important here, your Parental Rights and a visitation schedule for the child(ren). Besides, any benefits you don't have to pay for, that the parent who has residential custody of your child(ren) receives, helps who?"
Note: I suggest links along the way, to help you, as I explain how things work. It may be more helpful if you read the whole page, before clicking onto another link.
All the forms for filing a Parental Rights and Responsibility Order can be found at Pinetree Legal's website ( Here Under Court Forms ) except one.
"The one form needed for filing Parental Rights and Responsibility Order that Pinetree Legal cannot post,is the needed form CV-038 - "The Family Matter Summons And Preliminary Injunction form" - This form can only be obtained at the court house. This means that if you do print out the forms on the Pinetree Website, you will still need to pick up a "Parental Rights & Responsibilities" packet from the Clerk of Courts at the court house. The cost for the packet is approx: $5.00 and it will include all the paperwork needed, as well as the instructions on what to do with the paperwork once it has been filled out. The forms on PTL website can be filled out, printed out, and replaced with the same forms that come in the packet. Also, if you are hoping to ask the court to wave your filing fee, you will need to ask the Clerk for an CV-067 - "Application To Proceed Without Payment form." This is a two page form. The other page is the "CV-191 - Affidavit." These forms are NOT included in the packet. If you are also filing this with the other parent's approval and you have sat down and determined parent contact and all other issues, you should also ask for a FM-054 - "Certificate In Lieu Of Case Management" form."
" If you apply to the court to "Proceed Without Payment", you may be entitled to a Free Attorney to help you with this. As hard as I am trying to explain this whole process to you, my first suggestion is always to get an Attorney. Go find out, see: "Ideas, Advice P.T.L. & V.L.P" but please continue reading this before you do."
Before We Get To How To Fill Out The Paperwork, Lets Explain The Process That Filing This Parental Rights And Responsibility Order Entails.
1. Go to the court house and pick up a Parental Rights and Responsibility packet from the Clerk of Courts. This costs $5.00. Ask for the "Application to Proceed Without Payment" Form, and if this is uncontested, ask for the FM-054 - "Certificate In Lieu Of Case Management" form.
2. Once all the paperwork is filled out, you will need to go to your bank or credit union and have a Notary sign the CV-006 - Complaint for Determination of Paternity, Parental Rights and Responsibilities, Child Support.form. the "FM- 050 - "Child Support Affidavit" from the CV-191 - "Affidavit" (page 2) and also a CV-067 - "Application To Proceed Without Payment" form. I would also get a notary signature on your "Shared Parental Agreement"
"Once you have the Notary's signature, you should make copies of almost EVERYTHING you receive in the packet, before filing the originals with the court. You don't need to make copies of the "Social Security Disclosure" form or the CV- 036 - "Acknowledgment Of Receipt Of Summons" form. I suggest making 4 copies of all the rest. One for yourself, one for the other parent ( that gets mailed to them ) one for the Department Of Human Services, ( that gets mailed to them ) and an extra copy, in case a Guardian at Litem is appointed to your case by the Mediator. The place where you get the Notary's signature may have a copy machine that can be used, for a small fee. I have used the copy machines located in the Public Library and at the Court House. The one form that requires a Notary's signature, form
3. If you are sending this to the other parent using registered mail ( I recommend this) you will send the other parent the Original CV-038 - "The Family Matter Summons And Preliminary Injunction form" ( it has the pressed seal) one copy of the original CV- 036 -"Acknowledgment Of Receipt Of Summons" a completed copy of the CV-006 - Complaint for Determination of Paternity, Parental Rights and Responsibilities, Child Support.form, a completed copy of the "FM- 050 - "Child Support Affidavit" from. And I suggest sending a copy of the "Shared Agreement" form you make out.
You will need to have a copy of the Order served on the other parent BEFORE you can file the copies with the court. This can be done by registered letter, or by a process server. Process servers do cost money. If the other parent is NOT going to object to you filing this Order, then you can ask a friend to hand the other parent the paperwork. The other parent will then sign that they accepted it and you file that form CV- 036 -"Acknowledgment Of Receipt Of Summons"with the originals. Remember, you need the other parent's signature. It is the only thing needed in order to file this Parental Rights Order.
If you feel the other parent would object to your request, you can send a copy of the Order to the other parent using the registered mail service. Check the "Return Receipt Requested" box. The other parent will have to sign the green card to accept it. You NEED the signed green card in order to file this Order. If you believe they might object to your filing this order, they may refuse to accept the envelope. In that case, you may need to have the paperwork served on them. However, I do have a pretty good idea on how to get that Green card signed.
"Want to save the cost and aggravation of having the other parent served?" see: "Serving A Summons"
Note: YOU cannot "serve" legal paperwork, that you have brought before the court, to the other parent.
You cannot file the paperwork with the court or mail copies to D.H.H.S. until you receive that signed Green Card back in the mail.
4. You then send a copy of the Order to the Department of Human Services. They get a completed copy of the CV-006 - Complaint for Determination of Paternity, Parental Rights and Responsibilities, Child Support.form, and a completed copy of the "FM- 050 - "Child Support Affidavit" from
5. Now you can file all the paperwork with the court. You need to file all paperwork within 20 days of that green card's signature date. A Filing fee will be expected. Approx: $120.00
(a.) If you feel you cannot afford the fee, a waiver form can be filled out and the Judge will decide your request to wave the $120.00 filing fee. see: "Filing For A Waiver Of The Court Fees" Be prepared to pay the fee within 7 days if the Judge does not grant your request, or you will have to start all over again.
The forms you file with the Court: the Notarized copy of the CV-006 - Complaint for Determination of Paternity, Parental Rights and Responsibilities, Child Support.form, the Notarized copy of the "FM- 050 - "Child Support Affidavit" from. And a Notarized copy of the "Shared Agreement" form. If your requesting a wavier of fees, a Notarized copy of the CV-067 - "Application To Proceed Without Payment form." This is a two page form. The other page is the "CV-191 - Affidavit." form, both copies of the Social Security Disclosure forms, and a copy of the CV- 036 -"Acknowledgment Of Receipt Of Summons" The most important form? That signed Green Card! It gets attached to the CV- 036 -"Acknowledgment Of Receipt Of Summons."
6. Once you file the paperwork with the court, each parent will receive a letter from the court, within two weeks, with a "Case Management" court date, to meet with a Judge. A member of D.H.H.S. will also be attending this meeting. At this meeting, if both parents cannot come to an agreement, the Judge will determine a temporary order on visitation, custody and child support. The Judge will then appoint a Court Mediator to your case. This will cost each parent an extra $60.00 each. After the Judge places a Temporary Order in effect, you will both receive a new court date to meet with a court appointed Mediator. The Mediator is willing to help you both reach an agreement. If you want this to end quickly, I would strongly suggest that you both remember what is best for the children and come to some terms. Because if that isn't possible, the Mediator probably will appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to your case. This person will be your child(ren)'s Attorney not yours and you may have to pay for your child(ren)'s Attorney. The Guardian Ad Litem will make recommendations to the court, for your child(ren) based on their interviews with both parents, family, friends, school, doctors, and anyone who can prove or disprove any allegations made against either parent! The Guardian Ad Litem may want some parenting classes taken by both parents or maybe a drug or alcohol program done. These programs are designed to help you with your problems and will hold some "weight" to your requests, if you attend them if required. Failure to show up for any court dates or meetings may mean that you give up your right (at this time) to secure your Parental Rights and a decision may be made without you being present.
"The Mediator is there to do exactly what the title says, to mediate your situation so both parties can come to a mutual decision on the child(ren). The Mediator is also very aware of the "control" issue some parents have and their desire to keep it. Who may or may not be willing to compromise. Those parents will not be looked upon very well. The Mediator knows each parent has equal rights to their child(ren) and unless one parent can show why those rights should not be granted, your requests will be listened to and taken into consideration. Also keep in mind any allegations that you bring to the table will be investigated. Going back and forth with the "he did she did" thing will slow down the whole process and you could both lose in the end. If the physical custody isn't an issue, if you both agree where the child (ren) should reside, then the rest should be able to be negotiated."
All the paperwork you filed for this Parental Rights Order is put in your file under a docket number. Most of the paperwork, as you may have noticed, was just legal issues that addressed Names, Addresses, Child Support Obligations, and Financial Statements. None of them helps you figure out what to ask for as far as your Parental Rights are concerned. That is where an Attorney comes into play. They give you the list of what can be asked for and help you figure out what you want. That's why they get paid. I can't help you decide what to chose, but I can give you the "list"...... for free. When you both meet with the mediator you need somewhere to start. The sample "Shared Parental Rights Agreement" I am posting I hope will be a starting point. If the Primary Residence stays as it is, you may get what you are asking for. However, if the other parent disagrees with any part of the agreement, the mediator is there to determine what is in the best interest of everyone involved. Compromise from both parents will get you a long way here. Once an agreement has been hammered out and agreed to by both parents, the Mediator will type up the new agreement and file the agreement with the court. I believe you both will receive copies in the mail. But if I am wrong about this, go to the court house with the docket number and ask for a copy! You will always need it to show schools, camps, and Doctors, to name a few.
Sitting Down At The Table.
So what is the really hard part? Making out the paperwork or sitting down to reach an agreement?
I''m hoping it's the paperwork.
The other parent has to be willing to negotiate or they may be looked at as the parent who may not have the child's best interests in mind. That interest is to be able to have both parent's in that child's life, not just one. I cannot stress this enough. Be willing to negotiate or this court action can be a long and intrusive affair for both parents. As I stated before, if a Guardian Ad Litem is appointed because an agreement cannot be reached or because allegations are being brought up, the whole issue of who should receive custody and how visitation should be handled will be based on their recommendations, not yours. Your "agreement" that you want accepted may be dramatically altered, if any allegations are proved. Residential custody could also be in jepodary, if the parent with physical custody is proven in any allegations the Guardian feels may be a safety issue.
"If there is any chance you both can agree to an agreement before anyone files the Parental Rights Order, that is the best course to take. I have helped a couple of people do this. The years had gone by and the resentment wasn't there anymore. They agreed to do what was best for the children. That is why the Shared Parental Rights agreement I wrote, worked. This Shared Agreement also includes all the "unknown" situations your child may find themselves in as they grow up. From school issues to the law, your child's problems also become both of your responsibilities. 50/50! When the other parent understands that they will now have some help with the bad things that may happen, they come around. At least my friends did.".
So Lets Be Right Up Front With The Cost.
1. Paperwork Packet: - $5.00
2. Copies: - $3.00
3. Filing Fee: - $120.00
4. Serving paperwork: - -$5.00
Total: $ 133.00
5. Mediation fee: - $80.00 each. - If Needed.
Approx. Total Cost: $213.00
"Remember you can file for a waiver of fees if you cannot afford to pay the filing fees. Keep in mind that the Judge may or may not accept your request. "
Now, just so we are clear. For approx: $213.00 you will get a mediation date to discuss your Parental Rights and Responsibilities. To receive regular visitation, to gain access to your child's medical records and School Records, and to be told where and when the other parent wishes to relocate. You also might be entitled to claim your children during specific years, on your income taxes, if your child support is being paid. I believe $213.00 is not a bad investment! Once the Parental Rights and Responsibilities Order has been signed by a Judge, it cannot be changed without a court order!
LETS GET TO IT!
All the forms for filing a Parental Rights and Responsibility Order can be found at Pinetree Legal's website ( Here Under Court Forms ) except one.
You can go to the PTL website and actually fill in most of the forms online to print out. Use Hot Docs to do this.
How To Fill Out The Forms You Need:
1. FM-002 - Confidential Family Matter Summary Sheet - This sheet asks for basic information, and is pretty easy to fill out. "The only question I could see that might throw you is the question : Original Proceeding? - Which means first time any paperwork has ever been filed. This is probably the one you want to check. When you receive a docket number, it should be written on every form you file with the court. Or, Post Judgement, which means that if there has been paperwork filed before, you will need that docket number to file your case. Example: A Motion to Modify would be a Post Judgement case."
2. CV/CR/FM/PC-200 Social Security Number Disclosure Form - This form lists your Social Security Number and your child(ren's) Social Security Numbers. "This will be a District Court Case not a Superior Court Case and if no previous paperwork exists, there is no docket number. Also, If you do not know the Social Security Numbers of your children that is OK. Just put down unknown."
3. CV-006 Complaint for Determination of Paternity, Parental Rights and Responsibilities, Child Support. ( after you have re-typed my sample Parental Rights Agreement to figure out what works best for both parents, you can include it with this form.)
A. There is no Docket Number until you file this. Then you will use that Docket Number on all paperwork that gets filed.
B.. Plaintiff: You
C. Defendant: The Other Parent
D. District Court
E. Location: Cumberland County
1. List each child's name, date of birth, and where the child now lives.
2. Plaintiff - List your town, county and state
3. Defendant - Other parent's address
4a. List where the children have lived for the past 5 years.
4b This question asks you if there is any other court action filed in another State, for the child. If the answer is yes, you check the "other" box, and this gets more complicated. If there is no other court action and if there is no Protection From Abuse filed against you or the other parent or a Protective Custody Order, you can skip this section. If you cannot skip this section, please ask an Attorney what to do. see:Ideas, Advice P.T.L. & V.L.P
"I was hoping to keep this simple but if there is a P.F.A. ( Protection From Abuse ) Order issued against either parent, and it was issued on behalf of the child(ren), it usually states that the parent cannot have contact with the person who obtained that order, for a period of two years. If that order is against you, once the order has expired, you can file the Parental Rights and Responsibility paperwork. If the Protection From Abuse Order is for the other parent only, and not on behalf of the children, you can still file for your Parental Rights and Responsibility and still receive visitation. You will just have to make arrangements for the pick up and drop off of your children. for the remainder of the Order" ( I would add that the V.L.P. probably can answer any questions you may have in reference to a P.F.A. and your Parental Rights to visitation and the information is free. ) see: "Ideas, Advice P.T.L. & V.L.P"
Note: "If the person who has the P.F.A. Order would like that Order dismissed, they can ask the court to do so." see: " Filing A Protection From Abuse Order"
4c. Does anyone else have physical custody of your children? If not, skip this section.
5. Check all boxes that apply.
a. Have you or the other parent collected benefits for the children from the State? If so, check off "Public assistance has been received for the children"
b. You need to send a copy of this Order to the D.H.H.S. Support Enforcement Department address listed on this form.
c. If there is a child support order in effect, check this box. If you have a copy of the order attach it to this document. If not, I believe D.H.H.S. will have a copy they can send you.
d. If your the (Plaintiff) parent without physical custody, who pays child support and your the one filing this order, if you want your child support reviewed, you would check this box. If your the (Plaintiff) parent with physical custody of the children, and this isn't about changing or enforcing a child support order, leave this blank.
"No matter what you check off as far as the child support issues D.H.H.S. will be there in the courtroom when you both go to your hearing. That is the reason you send them a copy."
Plaintiff Requests That The Court:
"If there is a child support order in effect, the first two boxes ( a & b ) would not apply.
c. Determine Parental Rights and Responsibilities. "This is the box you check."
d. D.H.H.S. has already done this if a child support order is in effect.
e. The last two boxes I am not even going to bother with. Needless to say, if you check either one, you must be pretty angry.
Attorney for Plaintiff: Leave blank if your doing this yourself.
Now you date it, sign it, ( But Not Yet! ) and write down your address and phone number
"Before you can file this form with the court, it has to be signed by a Notary Public. You also must sign this and date it in the presence of the Notary. Bring along a picture ID to use as verification of your identity. You can usually find a free Notary at the Bank or Credit Union you use. If you have no accounts, you can still use the Bank's Notary, but they may charge you a small fee."
4. CV-036 - ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF RECEIPT OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT OR POST-JUDGMENT MOTION.
One original copy of this form, needs to be filed with your original paperwork, regardless of how Service was completed.
If registered mail was used, you sent the other parent a copy of this form and they are suppose to send it back to prove they were served. Most don't do that.
Just file the signed green card with this form and fill out the information below.
a. District Court
b. Location: Cumberland
c. Docket Number assigned yet? N/Y
d. Plaintiff: You
e. Defendant: Other Parent.
Everything below the word "Notice" just leave bland.
The signed green card proves the other parent received the paperwork.
5. CV-038 - FAMILY MATTER SUMMONS AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
This form is the one not listed on the PTL website. Why?
This form has a State Seal pressed into it. It tells the Defendant of the action being brought against them and puts a "Preliminary Injunction" in effect which prohibits restrain of personal liberty of the other party (you) or the children. Contempt of court charges are threatened if this Official Court Order is not followed.
Docket # ______________
Defendant: Other Parent
a. You date it
b. Circle (Plaintiff)
c. Print you name and address / (you can leave the phone number blank if you need to)
6. FM-050- CHILD SUPPORT AFFIDAVIT
Docket # ______________
Defendant: Other Parent
Date of Birth: Yours
Name and address of your present employer
1. GROSS INCOME:
A. Use your taxes from last year to answer this.
B. Loaded Question. "Your answer? No more than last year!"
2.OTHER GROSS INCOME
Expected this year. "The key word here is Expected. I'll never forget my Lobsterman son who put down a large amount and "Expected" more than he got that year in sales. That Expected amount became the basis of the amount of child support he was ordered to pay. If you get a certain amount a month due to Workman's Comp or Unemployment, or from any of the places they list, times the amount you receive by 52 weeks and that is the amount you "Expect this year."
3. EMPLOYMENT FRINGE BENEFITS
Again, you "Expect to receive."
4.TOTAL GROSS INCOME:
Add 1b, 2, and 3. " Notice you do not add 1A. which asked "how much did you make last year? "Instead, they add the EXPECTED Gross Income you put down."
5. YEARLY SUPPORT YOU PAY FOR OTHER CHILDREN:
6. WEEKLY HEALTH INSURANCE:
a. Put down what your employer takes out of your check if you have a job, and have insurance.
b. If you pay for insurance for other child(ren), put down that information.
7. WEEKLY CHILD CARE COSTS:
"If this applies write down the amount."
8. WEEKLY EXTRAORDINARY MEDICAL EXPENSIVE:
"If your child has medical issues, put down the cost and reason for the expense."
9. OTHER CHILDREN IN YOUR HOME:
Other children you are legally responsible for.
10. OTHER FACTS:
"If there are circumstances in your situation that affects your Child Support, perhaps waiting for a decision from Social Security or Unemployment, list that here."
11. ASSETS AND DEBTS:
"If you have real estate, stocks and bonds, or recreational vehicles, I hope you have an Attorney."
"This is pretty self explanatory. If your like me, a person just trying to make it, most of it probably won't even apply
You don't sign this form yet! It is one of the forms that need a Notary signature.
THERE. YOUR DONE!
" It will be interesting to see how this works out for you. About six months after my ex and I filed our agreement, neither one of us could remember what the visitation schedule was. Know why? Because it didn't matter anymore. Neither one of us had "control" over it. It forced us to communicate and visitation ended up being "could you take / keep him for today?" Our lives were now easy to schedule, knowing we each would be a free "sitter" for the other parent, when needed."
If you have any questions I failed to answer, the V.L.P. answers them for free and will also look at your paperwork before you file it, for Free. see: "Ideas, Advice P.T.L. & V.L.P."
Go Back To The Middle Of This Page To "So How Does This Work" and follow the steps to serve and file your action.
"If there is any chance you both can come to an agreement before anyone files the Parental Rights Order, that is the best course to take. I have helped a couple of people do this. The years had gone by and the resentment wasn't there anymore. They agreed to do what was best for the children. That is why the Shared Parental Agreement I wrote worked. This also includes all the "unknown" situations your child may find themselves in as they grow up. From school issues to the law, your child's problems also become both of your responsibilities. 50/50! When the other parent understands that they will now have some help with the bad things that may happen, they come around. At least my friends did. So why did they even bother to file the Order if they got along so well? The parent who did not have physical custody could not get a report card mailed to them, couldn't call the Doctor and get any information. With a copy of the Order given to both the Dr. and the school, they were given information on medical history and sent all school related activities and progress reports. If you can work out the agreement with the other parent before filing, you will breeze through the process, save some money and skip any Guardian at Litem appointments, You'll also be showing the Judge that you are two parents who are doing what is best for your children!"
All you need to file with your paperwork is the "Shared Custody Agreement" you both agreed on and the FM-054 - "Certificate In Lieu Of Case Management" form." Remember, Child Support cannot be an issue. If there is an order already in effect, this should go smoothly.
You may have to "fight" against the other parent. I have seen many a parent feel great reluctant to give up that control they got used to having. because they just realized that the control now may not be in their hands. Here is the good news. If there is really no good reason to dispute what you are requesting, there should be no reason your requests should be denied. The Courts understand the importance of both parents roles in theirs child's lives. You may have to change a few things from your original request, but I am very hopeful the
I am not a Lawyer! Because of that, I feel I really need to push this "negotiate" warning I was trying so elegantly to get across. Remember, I fought many custody battles against my last ex. Allegations from both of us, flew like the wind. Every one of them were investigated and the months, turned into more than a year and a half. We were in and out of courtrooms almost every month. I lost custody of my son twice, for 28 days, due to false allegations written on two Protection From Abuse charges. My point? I had no idea what it was doing to my son and I believe she didn't either. Allegations, real or not, are really not the issue here unless it deals directly with your children's safety. None of us are perfect and we both were lucky the Guardian Ad Litem put up with us, for as long as he did. I would really advise you both to save yourselves allot of pain and agony and do the right thing. Take that agreement, discuss what you can both accept as far as terms, and file the "Certificate In Lieu Of Mediation". You may not get all you are asking for, but I believe you will end up with more then what you had! If you think my words might sway the other parent, then by all means share this link with them. Please keep this simple...... for your children's sake.
My Final Thought...
"I would ask you to please remember, my knowledge
is from helping others and doing the work
involved to help them with their cases. I
am NOT a Lawyer. I really enjoy exploring
all the angles of any legal situation one
finds themselves in. I also enjoy helping
those that have been wronged or just have
given up. When I help others it fuels my
desire to learn more. I hope this website
helps you to understand how and where to
seek help. How to involve yourself with your
Attorney and help them with your case. Hopefully
you will learn a thing or two that helps
you in your own struggles. To me, some of
the laws seems simple. Almost common sense.
I always start at the end and work my way
back. What is the worst thing that could
happen to you? Spending time in jail? Paying
a fine? Having to report to a Probation Officer?
Go to the end. That is where you start. Once
you know what the end result might be, It
makes it a bit easier to focus on what needs
to be done and what you can live with as
far as a plea agreement"