How to Calculate Child Support Payments in Maine

Learn how to calculate child support in Maine, when the amount of support may be different than the standard calculation, and how to apply for, collect, and modify child support.

By , Legal Editor

Unlike many other states, Maine doesn't provide an official, online calculator for child support. To calculate the support under the Maine child support guidelines, you'll need to use the state's worksheet and its current child support table. Here's what you'll need to get started.

How to Apply for Child Support in Maine

Typically, you apply for child support when you file for divorce in Maine. As part of your divorce process, you'll include your completed child support worksheet along with the other divorce papers.

If you aren't married to your child's other parent, you may get help with requesting support by applying for services from Maine's Division of Support Enforcement and Recovery (DSER). If needed, the DSER can also help establish the child's legal paternity and locate a missing parent.

How to Use Maine's Child Support Worksheet

Under Maine's child support guidelines, the parent who has physical custody of the children for less than half the time (the "non-primary care provider," also known as the noncustodial parent) will pay child support to the primary care provider in most cases. There are different rules when the children live with each parent for about the same amount of time (equal custody) or when each parent has custody of at least one of their children (split custody).

That means you'll need to know what your parenting time arrangements will be before you can calculate child support. If you're still negotiating custody, you could try calculations under the potential scenarios to see what effect they would have on child support. And if you've hired an attorney to handle your divorce, your lawyer can explain the consequences of different custody arrangements on child support.

You'll also need to gather some basic financial information, including:

  • both parents' income, assets, and debts
  • the cost of health insurance premiums for the child
  • expenses for the child's recurring, unreimbursed medical care
  • the cost of child care that's required because of the primary care provider's employment or education, and
  • child support paid for other children not involved in this case.

Maine's child support guidelines spell out the details on what does and does not count an income for purposes of calculating child support. (Me. Stat. tit. 19-A, § 2001(5) (2024).)

The guidelines also include adjustments for special circumstances, including when parents have very low incomes and when they have either equal or split custody.

Between the DSER website and the Maine Judicial Branch's Child Support page, you can find links to the latest versions of the forms, instructions, and other important information, including:

  • the Child Support Worksheet (form FM-040)
  • the Child Support Affidavit (form FM-050)
  • the Maine Child Support Table (which you'll need to complete the worksheet)
  • the Supplemental Worksheet to calculate the adjustment for equal custody (form FM-040-A), and
  • the full text of Maine's child support guidelines.

When Child Support May Be Different Than the Guideline Calculation

Maine judges will presume that they should order the amount of child support calculated under the guidelines, unless they find that amount would be unjust or inappropriate under the particular circumstances. A number of factors may justify deviating from the guideline amount, including:

  • the child's special physical, emotional, or educational needs
  • the parents' other financial resources not included in income on the worksheets
  • the combined impact of child support along with the property division and any award of spousal support (alimony) in the divorce
  • the standard of living the children would have enjoyed if their parents had stayed together
  • whether the parents are providing support for other relatives who are financially dependent on them
  • whether the special calculations for equal or split custody are unjust, inappropriate, or not in the child's best interests
  • the tax benefits each parent will receive from child-related exemptions and credits, and
  • the available income and financial contributions of a parent's current spouse or partner.

Even if the parents have agreed on child support, a judge will have to review their agreement and compare it to the standard calculation, to make sure the agreed amount is adequate.

(Me. Stat. tit. 19-A, §§ 2005, 2006(5), 2007 (2024).)

How to Collect Child Support in Maine

In Maine, child support orders must include an order for income withholding, unless there's a good reason otherwise (such as when a noncustodial parent is self-employed). With income withholding, the support payments are taken out of the parent's paychecks and forwarded to the custodial parent. (Me. Stat. tit. 19-A, § 2651 (2024).)

If you're having trouble collecting support payments, Maine's DSER can help enforce your child support order. Depending on how much the other parent owes, the agency can use several enforcement methods, including:

  • reporting the debt to credit bureaus
  • intercepting income tax refunds
  • intercepting workers' compensation or unemployment benefits
  • seizing money from bank accounts
  • placing liens on property (so the delinquent parent can't sell it or borrow money before paying off the debt)
  • having the delinquent parent's driver's or other licenses suspended, or
  • seeking to have the delinquent parent found in contempt of court, which could leads to fines or even jail time.

How to Change the Amount of Child Support

Either parent may request a modification of child support. The requirements for granting such a request depend on how long it's been since the existing order was issued or last modified:

  • If it's been less than three years, you'll need to demonstrate that there's been a substantial change in circumstances. If a new calculation under the guidelines and your current financial circumstances would result in a support amount that's more than 15% higher or lower than the existing order, that will be considered a substantial change in circumstances (unless the existing order was based on a deviation from the guidelines, as discussed above).
  • If it's been three years or more, you won't need to prove a change in circumstances. The court will modify the order as long as there's any difference between a new guideline calculation and the amount you're currently paying or receiving.

You may request a review of your current child support order from the Maine DSER. After getting current financial information from both parents and conducting the review, the agency will let you know the results. Be aware that even if the review shows that a change is warranted, that doesn't necessarily mean that a judge will order a modification.

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