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, (2) by mail, or (3) by email:
- Complaints for protection from abuse;*
- Motion to dissolve temporary order;
- Motion to amend or terminate an order of protection;
- Motion to extend an order of protection;*
- Motion to continue;** or
- Motion for hearing to be held by video or phone.**
*The links here are to the forms you complete in person or by mail. See below for the email form links.
**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.
What should I know if I go in person to file?
Courthouses have limited hours. Courthouse hours can be found here. If you cannot go to your local courthouse when they are open, it is okay to go to another courthouse to file your protection order.
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.
Masks are required in the courthouse, so you should bring one to wear in the courthouse.
You can call an advocate at the domestic violence or sexual assault helplines for help with the protection order. They can help you figure out where and when is the safest and best time to file, and they can tell you more about what to expect at the courthouse.
What should I know if I want to file by mail or email?
If you want to file by mail, you should:
- Fill out the Complaint or Motion you want to file.
- Have it notarized (if required).
- Then, mail it to your courthouse.
If you want to file by email:
- Fill out the form that you want to file.
- Complete the email certification form, which can be found here.
- If you are filing a Motion to Dissolve, you still need to get it notarized. All other forms can be filed without being notorized.
- Email your forms to the regional email address for your court.
Make sure you have a safe phone number you can answer until you hear from the clerk that your temporary order has been granted. It is important that you pick up the phone when the clerk calls, so they can confirm your filing and ask any questions they have. If this is not safe, you may want to find a way to file by mail or in person. If this would be difficult for you, you can call an advocate at the domestic violence or sexual assault helplines for help with the protection order.
Please email your filing to the region email address of your court:
- Region 1 (Biddeford, Springvale, and York District Courts): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Region 2 (Bridgton and Portland District Courts): email@example.com
- Region 3 (Farmington, Lewiston, Rumford, and South Paris District Courts): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Region 4 (Augusta, Skowhegan, and Waterville District Courts): email@example.com
- Region 5 (Bangor, Dover-Foxcroft, Lincoln, Millinocket, and Newport District Courts): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Region 6 (Belfast, Rockland, West Bath, and Wiscasset District Courts): email@example.com
- Region 7 (Calais, Ellsworth, and Machias District Courts): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Region 8 (Caribou, Fort Kent, Houlton, Madawaska, and Presque Isle District Courts): email@example.com
You can call an advocate at the domestic violence or sexual assault helplines for help with the protection order.
Advocates from Maine’s domestic violence and sexual assault resource centers are available to assist survivors.
- Statewide Domestic Abuse Helpline: 1-866-834-HELP Hearing Impaired: 1-800-437-1220
- MCEDV recently wrote this article about domestic violence resources during the pandemic.
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.