Last Updated 8/27/2021

Is PTLA open? Can I still get help?

To protect our clients and staff, all PTLA offices are closed to the public. If you have a current case, please reach out to our staff by e-mail or phone. If you are looking for legal help, please visit our Contact Us page for information about our up-to-date call in hours. Thank you for your understanding.

Check our Contact Us page for the most up-to-date information about hours and closures.

We are also posting updates and new information to our website almost every day. Check this list as we add more resources!

What’s going on? I don’t know where to get my questions answered or reliable information.  

There is a lot of confusion and misinformation out there – but there are also trustworthy sources of information! If you have general questions about COVID-19, what’s going on in the state of Maine, and what services or resources are available, contact 211 Maine. You can just dial 211, or text your zip code to 898-211. Maine 211 is available 24/7, and should be able to answer your basic questions and provide accurate, up-to-date information. 

Maine Equal Justice has created, and will continue to update, a webpage about resources available to low-income Mainers at this time.

Are the courts open now? How do I know what is going on with my court case?

Yes. On June 1st, 2021 the Maine Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ended the long-standing Pandemic Management Orders. These orders have been in place since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and changed the way many court processes and cases worked. Many things will be going 'back to normal' - but some of the new rules from 2020 will still apply.

  • The courts are open to the public. If you have questions about your case or what is going on in the courts, you can call the clerk of the court where your case was being held.  
  • Masks are required in all Maine courts. Everyone must wear a mask, including court staff, lawyers, and the public. You will not be allowed in the court if you do not wear a mask.  

You can read the full Post Pandemic Management Order from the SJC here.

What if I am not safe at home because of abuse? What resources can help me stay safe?

If you have an emergency, you can still call 9-1-1.  Even though some police departments are taking reports more over the phone or by appointment, they are still a good option if you are in an emergency situation and you feel unsafe.

Advocates from Maine’s domestic violence and sexual assault resource centers are available to assist survivors.  

Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence

Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assalt

If you need information about the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA), please go to their website. There you will find information about their work, and also information about how to get help if you need it.

If you need help:

  • You can chat online with an advocate from MECASA anytime Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. To chat with an advocate, go to this site and click the “chat now” button. They are also available by phone anytime, day or night, at: 1-800-871-7741. You can also text them Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • MECASA’s website lets people know that someone reading your phone bill may be able to see that you have texted with them. Please consider this when planning for your safety.  

Are the courts still open to help survivors?

The courts are open for Protection from Abuse and Harassment cases. Complaints for Protection from Abuse and Harassment can be filed at courthouses while they are open. Courthouse hours can be found here. Even under the Stay Healthy at Home Executive Order, you are still allowed to travel to courthouses to file and attend court for these cases.

You can file the types of cases listed below in three ways: (1) going to the courthouse in person, or (2) by mail: 

*The links here are to the forms you complete in person or by mail.

**There are no court forms for these motions, you should just send a letter to the court if you want to file a Motion to Continue (a motion to reschedule your hearing, for example if you are sick or cannot get to court for another reason) or a Motion for hearing to held by video or phone. Make sure you also send a copy of your letter to the other party in your case.

If you do have to go to court, expect increased screening before you can actually go into the courthouse. The courts are taking steps to try to keep everyone as safe as possible. Read about Maine Courts COVID-19 Entry Screening. If you are not able to enter a courthouse to file a PFA or PFH, you should tell the marshall that you need to file a protection order. The court will make sure that you can file, but may have you talk to the clerk or a judge on the phone. You can call an advocate at the domestic violence or sexual assault helplines for help with the protection order.

Do I still need to follow court-ordered parental rights agreement? What about visitation during the stay at home order?

People with orders from a divorce or parental rights case should do their best to follow those orders so long as it is safe and possible to do so. Talk to your children’s doctor about your situation if you have health concerns. Communicate with the other parent about your concerns.

On March 31, 2020, Governor Mills issued a series of mandates, including a “Stay Healthy at Home” directive. This requires people in Maine to stay in their homes at all times, unless for an essential job or for an essential personal reason. Some of the essential personal reasons include buying food and medication. You can find the full list of these essential personal activities here. Under this directive you could transport your children to visits with their other parent under two of the listed essential personal activities.

  • You are allowed to provide care, including transportation, of yourself or a family member for essential health and safety activities.
  • You are also allowed to leave your home for travel required by a law enforcement officer or court order.

Learn more about parental rights during this crisis here: Maine Parental Rights & COVID-19 FAQ

Can my electric or gas be shut off?


The order stopping utility shut-offs during the COVID-19 pandemic expired in November, 2020. After the order expired, Maine's normal winter rules were still in effect. They usually prevent electric and gas companies from disconnecting your service between November 15th and April 15th each year.

Now, none of these rules or orders apply. Utility companies can begin shutting off service again.

What can I do if I get a utility shut-off notice?

If you owe money to your utility company, they may now send you a shut-off notice. You may be able to work out a payment plan with your utility company. This could make it easier to make payments you can afford while keeping your services active.

You can contact your utility company directly to learn more about your options.

There are also programs that may be able to help you:

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

This program may help you pay heating costs. Learn more about LIHEAP and apply for help.

You must be enrolled in LIHEAP to qualify for the Arrears Management Program (AMP) - learn more about this program below.

The Arrears Management Program (AMP)
If you're behind on your electric bills, then the Arrearage Management Program (AMP) may be able to help you. You pay just your current monthly electric bill, each month and on time. Learn more about the Arrears Management Program.

What if my electric company won’t work with me?

If you think your electric company is treating you unfairly or not following the rules, you can file a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission.

Unemployment and COVID-19

Many of the special unemployment insurance programs launched during COVID-19 are ending or changing.

Maine Equal Justice posts detailed updates about these unemployment programs on their website - along with other helpful information about other kinds of assistance available in Maine.

You can also find the most up-to-date information from the state on Maine's Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance page.

PUA overpayment alert, August 2021

If you got Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits in 2021, you may be at risk of being found responsible for an overpayment! PUA benefits came from a special unemployment program for self-employed people, or people who did not qualify for regular unemployment benefits.

From our colleagues at Maine Equal Justice:

"If you received PUA benefits in 2021 you need to submit proof that you were employed prior to COVID to the Maine Department of Labor.

You have to submit this proof even if you already submitted the same proof for another reason and even if you have returned to work. For many claimants, the deadline to submit this proof was August 4, 2021. At least 7,400 Mainers did not submit this proof by the deadline and will have to repay the unemployment benefits unless they act now."

Read more about PUA, and how you can avoid this overpayment!

What if I'm a farmworker who worked part of the year in Maine?

If you are a farmworker who worked in Maine, you may be able to collect unemployment benefits in Maine.  Please call our Farmworker Unit for more information at (207) 400-3283 or at (207) 942-0673.

If you are a farmworker who worked in more than one state, you might be able to collect unemployment benefits based on all the work you did in all the places you worked.  Please call our Farmworker Unit for more information at (207) 400-3283 or at (207) 942-0673.


Where can I find resources about things like healthcare, food, childcare, benefits like SNAP or TANF?

Maine Equal Justice has created, and will continue to update, a webpage with information and resources specifically for low-income Mainers at this time. Check there regularly for more information. We will also be posting the answers to frequently asked questions about legal issues on this page. Check back for more information soon!

PTLA COVID-19 Resources & FAQs

We are working to put together resources and FAQs to address some of the problems people are having because of the COVID-19 outbreak. We will continue to add to this section as things develop. Here are the resources we have so far, beyond what we cover on this general page:

Rental Housing

Homeownership & Foreclosure

Work & Farmworkers

Money, Taxes & Debt

Family Law

Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking

KIDS Legal - Rights of Students & Parents/Caregivers

Health & Public Benefits

Attention Attorneys! Volunteer with Pine Tree Legal Assistance to help us serve low income Mainers in this difficult time

Pine Tree Legal Assistance (PTLA) - in collaboration with various other organizations, is putting on regular subject-matter trainings for volunteer attorneys! These trainings may count for CLE credit, are free. Please check for our latest training and help make a difference with PTLA!

Learn more about volunteer opportunities with PTLA to help our communities!