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Legal Information: Maine

Maine Restraining Orders

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Restraining Orders

In Maine, there are various types of orders:

  • Protection from abuse orders can protect domestic violence victims, as well as stalking victims, and sexual assault victims, and victims of other sex-related crimes committed by anyone, regardless of the relationship.
  • There are also additional protections for elderly, dependent, or incapacitated adults -- they can get protection from abuse orders against extended family members or unpaid caregivers and the definition of "abuse" is expanded to include more acts.
  • Lastly, there are protection from harassment orders for harassment committed against a victim by anyone, regardless of the relationship.

Protection from Abuse Orders (for domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, and more)

A protection from abuse (PFA) order is a civil order that protects you from certain acts of harm that are committed by a family or household member or dating partner and from other acts of harm (such as stalking, sexual assault, and other sex-related crimes) that are committed by anyone, regardless of your relationship to them.

For people over age 60, or vulnerable or incapacitated adults, a protection from abuse order can also protect you from abuse by an extended family member or an unpaid care provider as well. See our Protection from Abuse Orders (for the elderly/dependent/incapacitated) section for more information.

Basic information

What is the legal definition of abuse in Maine?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting a protection from abuse order. Certain forms of abuse will only qualify you for a protection from abuse order if committed by a family or household member or by a dating partner. Other forms of abuse, however, can qualify you for a protection from abuse order even if they were committed by someone who is not a family or household member or dating partner.

Maine law defines "abuse" as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts committed against you or your minor child by a family or household member or dating partner:

  • attempting to cause or causing bodily injury or offensive physical contact;
  • attempting to cause or causing sexual assault;
  • stalking as defined by law;
  • attempting to place or placing another person in fear of bodily injury by threatening, harassing or tormenting;
  • forcing a person to do things that the person has a right not to do;
  • forcing a person not to do things that the person has a right to do;
  • substantially restricting the movements of a person without lawful authority by:
    • removing a person from his/her home, business or school without consent or lawful authority;
    • moving a person a substantial distance; or
    • confining a person;
  • threatening a crime of violence that places the person in reasonable fear that the crime will be committed;
  • repeatedly and without reasonable cause, following a person or being at or in the vicinity of the person's home, school, business or place of employment;
  • engaging in the unauthorized dissemination of certain private images;
  • engaging in aggravated sex trafficking or sex trafficking; and
  • for minors only:

Maine law also defines "abuse" as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts committed by someone who is not a family or household member or dating partner:

Note: If someone is at least 60 years of age, a "dependent adult," or an incapacitated adult, and is being abused by an extended family member or an unpaid care provider, see our Protection from Abuse Orders (for elderly/disabled) page for more information on the additional definitions of abuse for these victims.2

If you are being harassed in a way that is not listed above, you may be eligible for a protection from harassment order. See our Protection from Harassment Orders section for more information.

1 ME ST T. 19-A §§ 4002(1); 4005(1)
2 See ME ST T. 19-A § 4005(1)

What types of protection from abuse orders are there? How long do they last?

In Maine, there are two types of protection from abuse orders:

Temporary protection from abuse order - You can request a temporary protection order that will stay in effect until you are granted a full order, or an order terminating the temporary order is made. You may be granted a temporary order without a court hearing, and without the abuser's knowledge. If the judge who reads your complaint agrees that there is a "good cause" to grant the order, for example, that you are in immediate and present danger, you can be granted a temporary ex parte order.  The order will take effect as soon as it is served on the defendant.  Even if the judge does not give you a temporary order, a final hearing will be scheduled within 21 days of when the complaint was filed where you can try to prove the allegations in your petition to get a final order.  Note: When there is no judge available in the District Court or the District Court courthouse is closed and no other arrangement can be made for the shelter of an abused family or household member or minor child, you can file an emergency petition (complaint) with another District Court Judge or Superior Court Justice and get a temporary order that way.1

Final protection from abuse order - You must attend the final hearing that was set by the court and listed on your temporary protection order.  A protection from abuse order can be issued only after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to present evidence or after both parties consent (agree) to the order being issued.  A protection from abuse order usually lasts up to two years.2 However, you may be able to have it extended. See: How do I change, extend, or cancel my protection from abuse order?

1ME ST T. 19-A § 4006(1),(2),(3)
2 ME ST T. 19-A § 4007(2)

What protections can I get in a protection from abuse order?

In a temporary, ex parte protection from abuse order, the judge can:

  1. make an order concerning the parental rights and responsibilities relating to the minor children living in the home; and
  2. can order the defendant to not:
    • restrain, threaten, assault, molest, harass, attack you or otherwise disturb your peace;
    • enter the family home or your home (if you live separately);
    • follow you or be near your home, school, business or place of employment repeatedly and without reasonable cause:
    • take, sell, destroy or damage property in which you may have a legal interest;
    • have any direct or indirect contact with you;
    • injure or threaten to injure any animal owned, kept or held by either party or by a minor child living in the household (and the judge can make an order regarding the care/custody of the animal); and/or
    • engage in the unauthorized dissemination of certain private images;
    • destroy, transfer or tamper with your passport or other immigration documents; and
    • have or possess a firearm if certain conditions are met.1 (For the list of conditions, read section 2-A of ME ST T. 19A § 4006).

A final protection from abuse order can do the following:

  1. order the defendant to not:
    • threaten, assault, molest, harass, attack or otherwise abuse you and/or any minor children in the home;
    • use, attempt to use, or threaten to use any physical force that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury against you or any minor children living in the home;
    • enter your home;
    • follow you or be near your home, school, business or place of employment repeatedly and without reasonable cause;
    • stalk you;
    • have any direct or indirect contact with you;
    • have or possess a firearm or dangerous weapon; and/or
    • take, sell, destroy or damage property in which you may have a legal interest (and the judge can order the division of personal property and household goods/furniture);
    • injure or threaten to injure any animal owned, kept or held by either party or by a minor child living in the household (and the judge can make an order regarding the care/custody of the animal);
  2. order the defendant to remove, destroy or return any "private images" (as defined in the unauthorized dissemination of certain private images) and, if necessary, order the defendant to pay any costs associated with removal, destruction or return of the private images;
  3. if you and the defendant jointly own or lease your home, or if one party solely owns or leases the property but s/he has a duty to support the other party or the minor children living in the home, the judge can:
    • give (or restore) possession of the home to one party, excluding the other; or
    • if both parties agree, the party who has a duty to support the other can provide suitable alternate housing;
  4. order the termination of a life insurance policy that is owned by the defendant if you are the person whose life is insured;
  5. award some or all temporary parental rights and responsibilities, or temporary rights of contact with regard to the minor children, or both;
  6. order the defendant to pay temporary support for you and/or your child;
  7. order the defendant to pay you for losses suffered as a direct result of the abuse (i.e., loss of earnings, injury to you, medical bills, damaged property or moving expenses);
  8. grant custody and care of any pets in the household that are owned by you, the defendant, or a child in the home to you;
  9. order the defendant to get counseling or attend a certified batterers' intervention program;
  10. order the defendant to pay your court costs and/or attorney's fees;
  11. if the defendant committed sex trafficking or aggravated sex trafficking, order him/her to pay money damages related to the return or restoration of your passport/immigration documents and any debts you have that came from the trafficking relationship (in addition to any other orders that the judge thinks are necessary or appropriate related to the trafficking); and
  12. order anything else you need to stay safe.2

Note: If you file a petition that gets dismissed at a hearing where both parties are present, the judge can order you to pay court costs and/or the defendant's attorney's fees if the judge rules that your complaint (petition) is frivolous (without a legal basis).3

1ME ST T. 19-A § 4006(2-A),(5),(5-A)
2ME ST T. 19-A § 4007(1)
3ME ST T. 19-A § 4007(1)(L-1)

Where can I file for a protection from abuse order?

You can file for a protection from abuse order in the district court of any division where you live permanently or temporarily or where the abuser lives.1   However, if you have left the home and want to keep the address where you are temporarily staying confidential, filing in that division would likely not be a good idea since it would alert the abuser to your location.  If you are unsure in which division you live, you may want to contact an attorney who is familiar with Maine laws.  Go to ME Finding a Lawyer for more information.

1 ME ST T. 19-A § 4007

Who is eligible for a protection from abuse order

Who can get a protection from abuse order?

You can file for a protection from abuse order based on acts of abuse done to you or your minor child by a family or household member or dating partner, defined as:

  • your current or former spouse;
  • someone with whom you have a child in common;
  • someone with whom who you live/d;
  • your current or former sexual partner;
  • someone you are related to by blood or marriage;
  • someone you are currently dating or formerly dated (regardless of whether or not you had a sexual relationship).1

You can also file for a protection from abuse order against anyone who has committed any of the following against you or your minor child:

If you are 60 years of age or older, a dependent adult, or an incapacitated adult, you can also file for a protection from abuse order against an extended family member or an unpaid care provider.2 For more information, see our Protection from Abuse Orders (for the elderly/dependent/incapacitated) page.

You can ask for an order on behalf of a child for whom you are responsible. If you are both being abused, you can ask the court to grant an order that will protect both of you.

If you are being harassed by someone who has a relationship to you that is not listed above or who is committing an act against you that is not described above, you may be eligible for a protection from harassment order. See our Protection from Harassment Orders section for more information.

1 ME ST T. 19-A § 4002(1)
2 ME ST T. 19-A § 4005(1)

Can I get a protection from abuse order against a same-sex partner?

In Maine, you may apply for a protection from abuse order against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Who can get a protection from abuse order?  You must also be the victim of an act of abuse, which is explained here What is the legal definition of abuse in Maine?

You can find information about LGBTQIA victims of abuse and what types of barriers they may face on our LGBTQIA Victims page.

Can I get a protection from abuse order if I'm a minor?

Yes, if you are a minor (under 18) you can get a protection from abuse order but you will need a person who is responsible for you to file for the order on your behalf.1

1 ME ST T. 19-A §§ 4002; 4005

Can I keep my address confidential?

Yes, you can keep your address confidential when you file for a protection from abuse order. Ask the clerk for a form called "Motion to Keep Address Confidential."

How much does it cost? Do I need a lawyer?

There are no fees for filing for a protection from abuse order.1  You do not need a lawyer to file for one, however, you may wish to have a lawyer, especially if the abuser has a lawyer or if there are complicated issues in your case.  If you can, contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.

If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be able to get free or low-cost legal help on our ME Finding a Lawyer page.

Domestic violence organizations in your area also should be able to help you through the legal process and may have lawyer referrals.  Visit the ME Advocates and Shelters page under the Places that Help tab at the top of this page.

1ME ST T. 19- A § 4005(4)

Steps for getting a protection from abuse order

Step 1 - Fill out the necessary forms.

To start your case, you will need to fill out the necessary forms for a protection from abuse (PFA) order. If you need to keep your address confidential, you can file a "Motion to Keep Address Confidential."  You can get the forms from the civil clerk at the District Courthouse or you can download them and fill them out at home or with an advocate from a local domestic violence program. You will find links to forms online on our ME Download Court Forms page.

On the forms, you will be the "plaintiff" and the abuser will be the "defendant."  In the box provided for explaining why you want the protection from abuse order, write about incidents of abuse, using specific language (slapping, hitting, grabbing, threatening, etc.) that fits your situation. Include details and dates, if possible. The court may not allow you to testify to any abuse that happened before the dates you list in the order so you may want to list past abuse also so that the court can see a pattern of abuse if it exits. Clerks and magistrates can show you which blanks to fill in, but they cannot help you decide what to write.

Note: Do not sign the forms until you are in front of a notary or a clerk. The complaint has to be notarized. This means that you must sign the complaint, swearing that it is true, in front of the clerk, or a notary public.

Most domestic violence programs can provide support for you while you fill out these papers and go to court. Go to ME Advocates and Shelters page for local organizations.

Step 2 - The judge reviews your complaint and may issue a temporary PFA order.

The clerk will show your complaint to the judge. After s/he reads it, s/he may want to know more. The judge might talk to you. S/he may ask you to explain the abuse in more detail. The judge will decide whether or not to issue you a temporary PFA order and will set a hearing date for the final PFA hearing.

Step 3 - Service of process

This step will be slightly different, depending on whether or not the judge granted you a temporary order.

If you were granted a temporary order for protection from abuse, the clerk will ask a police officer or deputy sheriff to serve the complaint and temporary order and notice of hearing on the defendant.

It is the court's responsibility to arrange service. To speed up service, however, in some cases the court may ask the plaintiff if s/he wants to take the court papers to the law enforcement agency. You may call the law enforcment agency to find out when the papers are served on the defendent. If the defendent is not in Maine, you may be responsible for arranging service.  To contact the appropriate sheriff department in another state, you can go to our Sheriff Departments page and enter the state where the defendant lives.

The clerk will give you a certified copy of the complaint, temporary order and notice of hearing. The court must schedule a hearing within 21 days.1  The notice of hearing will tell you the date and time. You must be present at the stated date and time or the order will be dismissed. If you have a genuine emergency that keeps you from getting to the court on the given date and time, you may notify the court and ask for a continuance. The judge will decide whether to continue the hearing to a later date.

The defendant has the right to petition the court for an expedited hearing to dissolve the temporary order. This hearing can happen within 48 hours notice or less to you.2

If you were not granted a temporary PFA order, it will be scheduled for a final hearing within 21 days1 (unless the case is dismissed at your request).  The court clerk will fill out a summons, which will tell the defendant the date and time that your complaint will be heard by the court. S/he will give you copies of the complaint and summons. Take two copies of each to the police department or sheriff's office, along with the service information sheet for service on the defendant.

1 ME ST T. 19-A § 4006(1)
2 ME ST T. 19-A § 4006(7)

Step 4 - The final hearing

You must go to this hearing if you want to get a final PFA order. If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order will be dismissed. If the abuser does not show up for the hearing, the judge may still grant you a PFA order or the judge may adjourn the case to another date. Note: If the defendant was not served by the hearing date, you must still go to court at the scheduled time. The judge will postpone the hearing and set a new date. This might happen a few times until the defendant is served.

You may wish to hire a lawyer to help with your case, especially if the abuser has a lawyer. If the abuser shows up with a lawyer, you can ask the judge for a "continuance" (a later court date) so that you have time to find a lawyer. Go to ME Finding a Lawyer page under the Places that Help tab at the top of this page.  You may also wish to have a domestic violence advocate accompany you to court for support. To find a program in your area, go to our ME Advocates and Shelters page.

See the Preparing your Case section under the Preparing for Court tab at the top of this page for ways you can show the judge that you were abused and for tips on representing yourself in court, pro se.

After the hearing

Can the abuser have a gun?

Once you get a protection order, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession.  There are a few places where you can find this information:

  • first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in Maine have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
  • second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
  • third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.

You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website

What should I do when I leave the courthouse?

Here are some ideas of what you can do:

  • Make several copies of the PFA order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • Leave copies of the order at your workplace, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them. One week after court, call your local law enforcement offices to make sure they have received copies of the order.
  • Take steps to safety plan, including changing your locks (if permitted by law) and your phone number.

Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order.  People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school.  Many abusers obey protective orders, but some do not.  It is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  Click on Safety Tips for suggestions. 

I was not granted a protection from abuse order. What are my options?

You may want to get advice from a lawyer as to whether or not you can appeal the decision. However, the grounds for appeal are limited to "error of law" and "abuse of discretion" and there is a limited amount of time to file.  Generally, appeals are complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer.  See our Filing Appeals page for basic information on appeals.

You may also be able to reapply for a PFA order if a new incident of abuse occurs after you are denied the order.  Also, you may decide to report the abuse to the police to see if they will arrest the defendant if they believe a crime was committed.

If you were not granted a PFA order because your relationship with the abuser does not qualify, you may be able to seek protection through a protection from harassment order. You will find more information about this process in our Protection from Harassment Order section.

In addition, remember that there are still some things you can do to stay safe. It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence resource centers in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you develop a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need.  For safety planning help, ideas, and information, go to our Safety Tips. You will find a list of Maine resources on our ME Advocates and Shelters page.

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

Violations of an order can be pursued through the police and/or through filing a contempt petition in court.  

Violations enforced by police or through a civil contempt motion:
However, the police can only arrest for certain violations.  The police may arrest for a violation of the following terms in an order (and it can be a Class C or D crime).1  If any of the following terms are violated, you can call 911 or otherwise report it to law enforcement:

  • Order the Defendant to leave you alone and have no contact with you;
  • Order the Defendant not to hurt you or threaten you;
  • Order the Defendant to stay away from your home, school, business or place of employment;
  • Order the Defendant not to follow you or otherwise stalk you;
  • Order the Defendant not to interfere with your property;
  • Order the Defendant not to possess a gun or any other dangerous weapon;
  • Grant possession of the home to you or the Defendant; and/or
  • Order the Defendant to provide suitable housing for you.2

If the Defendant is charged with a violation of the order and prosecuted, you may want to contact the victim advocate at your county district attorney's office for information and support.

Violations only through a civil contempt motion:
The police cannot arrest for
a violation of any of the following terms of the order - for a violation of any of these terms, the plaintiff would have to file a motion in court for civil contempt and the judge can punish the defendant accordingly.1  To file a motion, you can go to the clerk's office at the courthouse where you got the order:

  • Order the Defendant to get counseling or attend a certified batterers' intervention program;
  • Grant custody and care of any pets to you;
  • Order division of personal property;
  • Order the termination of a life insurance policy that is owned by the defendant if you are the person whose life is insured;
  • Order the Defendant to pay temporary support for you and/or your child;
  • Order the Defendant to pay you for loss of earnings, injury to you, medical bills, or property or moving expenses that occurred as a direct result of the abuse;
  • Order the Defendant to pay court costs or attorney fees; and/or
  • Order anything else you need to stay safe.2

1ME ST T. 19-A § 4011
2ME ST T. 19-A § 4007

 

What happens when the judge orders the defendant to turn in his/her firearms?

If as part of the protection from abuse order, the judge rules that the defendant cannot have a firearm or other dangerous weapon, the judge will direct the defendant to turn over the firearms within 24 hours (or sooner) after s/he is served with the order to law enforcement (or to someone else). If the weapons are turned over to someone other than a law enforcement officer, the defendant must file with the court or local law enforcement agency (within 24 hours) a written statement that contains the name and address of the person holding the weapons and a description of all weapons held by that individual. Later on, the judge can issue a search warrant authorizing a law enforcement officer to take any firearms and other dangerous weapons at any location if there is probable cause to believe that the defendant did not turn in such firearms or dangerous weapons.1

1 ME ST T. 19-A § 4007(1-A)

Can the order be changed, extended or canceled?

A PFA order will be issued for a fixed period or time, not to exceed 2 years.1  If the order is going to run out and you believe that you need protection, you can file for an extension of the order.  The clerk will set a time and date for your motion to be heard by the judge after the defendant has received notice of hearing.  A motion to extend can generally be filed 30 days before the order runs out.  If you do not file the motion to extend before the old order runs out, you will have to start all over again by filing a new protection from abuse complaint.   The judge can extend an order for such additional time as s/he believes is necessary to protect you or your minor child from abuse.1

Also, either side can file to modify a final order.  If there is sufficient cause to do so, the judge can modify an order from time to time as circumstances may require.1

Note: A defendant can file in court to ask that an ex parte order be modified or dismissed and you may get only 2 days' notice of the hearing date (or shorter notice if the judge allows for it).  At that hearing, if the defendant challenges a finding in the ex parte order, you will have the burden of justifying that finding (determination).2

To find a lawyer, go to ME Finding a Lawyer page under the Places that Help tab at the top of this page.

1 ME ST T. 19-A § 4007(2)
2ME ST T. 19-A § 4006(7)

What happens if I move?

If you move within Maine, your order will still be valid and good.  Additionally, the federal law provides what is called "full faith and credit," which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. territories and tribal lands.  To read more information about moving out of state, visit our Moving to Another State with a Protection from Abuse Order page for Maine.

If you are moving to a new state, you may also call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2) for information on enforcing your order in another state.

 

Protection from Harassment Orders

A protection from harassment order is a civil order that protects you, your family, or your business from harassment regardless of the harasser's relationship to you.

Basic info

What is the legal definition of harassment in Maine?

For the purpose of getting a protection from harassment order, Maine law defines "harassment" as:

If you are being harassed by a current or former intimate partner, relative, or spouse, you may be eligible for a protection from abuse order. Please see our Protection from Abuse Orders page for more information.

1 5 M.R.S. § 4651(2)

What kinds of protection from harassment orders are there? How long do they last?

There are three types of protection from harassment orders.

Emergency protection from harassment orders: This type of order could be granted on nights, weekends, or holidays when the court is closed or if there is no judge available in your local district court. You must meet the requirements for getting a temporary protection order, explained below. The order would be in effect until a hearing is held in the appropriate district court.1

Temporary protection from harassment orders: An ex parte temporary order can be granted on the day that you file your petition in court and can last until your final hearing in certain circumstances. It can be granted if it is clear from your complaint and affidavit that:

  • you (or your employees) may be in immediate and present danger of physical abuse or extreme emotional distress as a result of the harasser’s conduct; or
  • your business property is in immediate and present danger of suffering substantial damage as a result of the harasser’s actions.2

In limited circumstances where you are alleging three or more acts of intimidation, confrontation, physical force, or the threat of physical force as the basis of the harassment, you may also have to meet one of two "notice requirements:" 1) that the harasser was already notified by law enforcement to stop the harassing behavior and you have a copy of the notification; or 2) that you filed a "statement of good cause" as to why you didn't ask law enforcement to issue this notice or why the notice was not issued.However, this "notice requirement" does not apply if the harassment:

Final protection from harassment orders: A final protection from harassment order can be issued in one of two ways:

  1. after a court hearing in which you and the harasser both have a chance to present evidence, testimony, and witnesses and the judge rules in your favor; or
  2. you can get an order without having a trial if the harasser consents to having an order against him/her – this is known as “an order by agreement” or a “consent order.”

Protection from harassment orders can last up to one year. However, you may be able to have it extended.3 For more information, see How can I modify (change) or extend my protection from harassment order?

1 5 M.R.S. § 4654(3)(A),(C)
2 5 M.R.S. § 4654(2)(A)
3 5 M.R.S. § 4655(1),(2)

What protections can I get in a protection from harassment order?

A temporary, emergency, and a final protection from harassment order can give you the following protections:

  • prohibit the harasser from threatening, assaulting, molesting, harassing, attacking, or abusing you or your employees;
  • prohibit the harasser from entering your home or property (but a protection from harassment order cannot be used to evict a tenant);
  • prohibit the harasser from taking, selling, destroying, or damaging your property;
  • prohibit the harasser from following you repeatedly without cause;
  • order the harasser to stay away from the area around your home, school, business, or place of employment (without good cause to be there);
  • prohibit the harasser from having direct or indirect contact with you;
  • prohibit the harasser from engaging in the unauthorized dissemination of certain private images; and
  • prohibit the harasser from destroying, transferring or tampering with your passport or other immigration documents.1

In addition, only a final protection from harassment order can:

  • order the harasser to pay court costs and/or your reasonably attorney’s fees;
  • order the defendant to remove, destroy or return any "private images" (as defined in the unauthorized dissemination of certain private images) and, if necessary, order the defendant to pay any costs associated with removal, destruction or return of the private images;
  • order the harasser to reimburse you for money you lost as a direct result of the harassment. Reimbursement is limited to:
    • loss of earnings or support;
    • reasonable expenses you spent for safety/ protection;
    • reasonable expenses you had for personal injuries or property damage; and
    • reasonable moving expenses; and
  • order the harasser to do anything else the court thinks is necessary and appropriate.2

Note: If you are going to be seeking the money damages described above, you can ask for a hearing where you can prove the amount of damages you suffered. If you choose, you can make a motion to the court to have the case moved to superior court so that you can have a jury trial on the money damages issue. To have a jury trial, you must make a motion before the hearing for the final protection from harassment order.3

However, if the judge finds that your complaint for a protection from harassment order is “frivolous,” s/he can order you to pay the harasser’s court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.4 Therefore, if you are really unsure as to whether your case qualifies as harassment, you might want to speak to an attorney before filing. You can go to our ME Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.

1 5 M.R.S. §§ 4654(4), 4655(1)
2 5 M.R.S. § 4655(1)
3 5 M.R.S. § 4655(1)(D)
4 5 M.R.S. § 4655(1-A)

Under what circumstances would I need to request that law enforcement issue a notice to stop the harassment before applying for an order? 

In limited circumstances, you may need to ask a law enforcement officer to issue a written "notice to stop harassment" against the defendant as a first step before requesting a protection from harassment order.

      You will not need to get law enforcement to issue the notice if the basis of your petition is an allegation of​ any of the following:

      • the harassment is related to an allegation of domestic violence, violence against a dating partner, sexual assault, or stalking;
      • the defendant committed one of the 36 crimes listed in What is the legal definition of harassment in Maine?; or
      • the defendant committed harassment by engaging in a course of conduct with the intent to harass, torment, or threaten another person after having already been notified (in writing or orally) not to engage in such conduct by a law enforcement officer, by a protective order, or by a corrections officer if the person is incarcerated.2

      You may need to get law enforcement to issue the notice if the basis of your petition is an allegation of three or more acts of intimidation, confrontation, physical force, or the threat of physical force directed against any person, family, or business that are made with the intention of causing fear, intimidation or damage to personal property and that do in fact cause fear, intimidation or damage to personal property.1 Additionally, if the notice to stop harassment would be required, you must either:

      1. attach it to your petition for a protection from harassment order; or
      2. file a "statement of good cause" along with your petition, which explains why you did not request such a notice from law enforcement or why law enforcement didn't issue it, if you requested it.1

      If you are not sure whether or not you would need to request from law enforcement this written notice to stop the harassment in your specific situation, you may want to get advice from a lawyer. Go to our ME Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.

      1 5 M.R.S. § 4653(1)(B)
      2 5 M.R.S. § 4653(1)(B); 17-A M.R.S. § 506-A

      Who is eligible

      Am I eligible for a protection from harassment order?

      If you, your family, your minor child, or your business has been harassed as defined by Maine law, you can file for a protection from harassment order.1 If you are a minor, see Can I file for a protection from harassment order if I am a minor?

      There is no special relationship required between you and the harasser.2 For example, the respondent can be a family member, neighbor, or co-worker. You may file against a minor (under 18) only if that minor is emancipated or if the minor has an adult "representative," usually a parent or guardian.3

      Note: In limited circumstances, you may need to first ask law enforcement to issue a written notice to stop the harassment before applying for a protection from harassment order.2 See See Under what circumstances would I need to request that law enforcement issue a notice to stop the harassment before applying for an order? for more information. If you are not sure whether or not you would need to seek out this notice in your specific situation, you may want to get advice from a lawyer. Go to our ME Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.

      1 See The First Steps - Protection From Abuse and Harassment on the Maine Courts website
      2 See 5 M.R.S. § 4653(1)
      2 See 5 M.R.S. § 4652

      Can a minor file for a protection from harassment order?

      A minor (under 18) cannot file on his/her own (unless s/he is emancipated)– but any adult family member, guardian, or the Department of Health and Human Services can file on behalf of a minor.1

      Note: If you are filing on behalf of a child and you have not witnessed the harassment yourself, the child may likely have to testify in court about the harassment if the case goes to trial.2

      1 5 M.R.S. § 4652
      2 See A Guide to Protection from Abuse and Harassment Cases on the Maine Courts website

      Can I file for a protection from harassment order against a minor?

      You may file a complaint for a protection from harassment order against a minor (under 18) if that minor is emancipated or is represented by a parent or guardian.1 When notifying the minor of the court date and serving him/her with the order, you would have to serve both the minor and his/her parent, guardian, or other representative.2 You can ask the clerk if you have to include the parent’s name on the petition or not.

      1 See A Guide to Protection from Abuse and Harassment Cases on the Maine Courts website
      2 5 M.R.S. § 4652

      Getting the order

      What are the steps involved with obtaining a protection from harassment order?

      The steps for obtaining a protection from harassment order will be similar to the steps for obtaining a protection from abuse order but you will fill out different forms. One major difference, however, is that in limited circumstances, you may have to first get law enforcement to issue a notice to stop the harassment against the harasser.1 See Under what circumstances would I need to request that law enforcement issue a notice to stop the harassment before applying for an order? for more information.

      You must file in the district court of the division where either you or the harasser lives. If you have left your home to avoid harassment, you can file in the division where you used to live or where you live now.2 If you have left home to avoid harassment and want to keep your address confidential, filing in your new division may not be a good idea.

      If your district court judge is not available or the courthouse is closed and you need an temporary order immediately, you can go to any other district court or to a superior court judge.3 The courts of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation also hear protection from harassment cases.4

      1 5 M.R.S. § 4653(1)
      2 5 M.R.S. § 4652
      3 5 M.R.S. § 4654(3)
      4 See Pine Tree Legal Assistance’s Protection from Harassment page

      How will the harasser be notified about the protection from harassment order?

      Once you file for a protection from harassment order, the clerk will schedule a date and time for a hearing. In the meantime, you must have the summons and complaint forms "served" on the defendant (your harasser) as well as the temporary (ex parte) protection order if you get one. The hearing cannot be held until the defendant has been served and the temporary order is not valid until the harasser is served with it.

      The clerk will likely forward the papers to the sheriff for service, especially if you get a temporary (ex parte) protection order and the defendant lives in Maine. However, be sure to check with the clerk about this. If the defendant resides outside the state of Maine, you may want to ask the clerk for help in arranging service of the complaint and related forms on the defendant in the state where s/he lives.

      If you have to arrange for service yourself, you would take a copy of the complaint and the original and one copy of the summons to the sheriff's department (likely in the county where the defendant lives). Ask the clerk which forms you have to bring to the sheriff if you are not sure. We have a list of sheriffs on our ME Sheriff Departments page.

      The hearing will not be held until the "Return of Service" on the back of the original summons form is filled out and filed with the court to prove that the defendant has been served. If you took the papers to the sheriff for service, you need to get the completed summons back from the sheriff's office after he is served. The sheriff should fill out the form with details about when and where the sheriff served the defendant. File it in the clerk's office immediately.

      If the clerk has sent the papers out for service, check with the clerk's office before the hearing to find out if the sheriff's office has sent the "Return of Service" (summons) back to the court. If you are still waiting for the forms to be returned on the hearing date, you can explain this to the judge and ask for a new hearing date. This will give you (and the sheriff) some more time to get the complaint and summons served on the defendant.1

      1 See Pine Tree Legal Assistance’s Protection from Harassment page

      What can I expect when I return to court for the hearing?

      The judge may hold what is called a “case management conference,” which is a meeting between you, your harasser and the judge. If you or the harasser has a lawyer, the lawyers may also attend. This meeting is not a trial and, therefore, witnesses do not attend at this stage. Generally, the purpose of a case management conference is for the judge to see if both parties are willing to settle the case (i.e., the harasser consents to you having a final protection order) and to plan for the trial if the case cannot be settled.

      The judge may also require that you and your harasser try mediation or some other out-of-court process to see if you can settle your issues without a full court hearing.1

      If you and the harasser can agree to the terms of an order, this is called a “consent agreement” and you can get a protection order issued without going to trial. 2 The judge will usually approve whatever terms you both agree upon and make it into a court order.1

      If you cannot agree to the terms of an order, the court will hold a hearing following formal rules of evidence and procedure. At the hearing you must explain to the judge under oath what happened. You will want to describe each event of harassment to the best of your memory, what your harasser did and said, what emotions s/he was displaying, and how you felt and responded. You can also bring witnesses who saw or heard the harassment. The judge will listen to your story and the defendant’s story and make a decision. It is generally best to have a lawyer at a hearing, especially if the harasser has one.

      If the defendant does not show up for the hearing and you have proof that he was served (the “Return of Service” form) some judges will still ask you to tell your story briefly under oath before granting you a final protection from harassment order.1 You might hear this type of one-sided hearing referred to as an “inquest.”

      1 See Pine Tree Legal Assistance’s “Protection from Harassment
      2 5 M.R.S.A. § 4655(1)

      What is the difference between an order granted after a hearing and a consent order?

      The main difference between the two orders is that an order that is granted after a hearing is granted after the judge has heard all of the evidence presented by you and by the harasser and the judge has decided that you were, indeed, harassed. The judge will make what is called a “finding” of harassment. A consent order is issued without a hearing and without any “finding” of wrongdoing by the harasser. The harasser would agree to you having an order against him/her and you would both agree on what terms will be in the order.

      Consent orders can include all the protection that an order issued after a contested hearing would provide. Violation of a consent order can be prosecuted just as a violation of an order issued after hearing would be. However, before giving up the right to a hearing, you should make sure that a consent order has enough protection and other relief since the harasser may try to leave out of the order certain protections that you can get in an order after a hearing.

      Once you both appear in court, the judge may right away ask you and the harasser whether you are willing to consider a protection order by consent or agreement, instead of having a contested hearing. Consent orders are often worked out by the judge speaking to the parties, or through the parties' lawyers.

      Can I keep my address confidential?

      Yes, you can keep your address confidential when you file for a protection from harassment order. You would fill out an Affidavit for Confidential Address form that explains why the health or safety of you or your child will be in danger if your personal information is given to the harasser. You can ask the court clerk for the form or get an online form from Pine Tree Legal Assistance. The court may only release this information to the other party or the public if, after a hearing, a judge decides that revealing the information is the fair thing to do.1

      15 M.R.S. § 4656

      How much will it cost to file for a protection from harassment order?

      There is a fee to file a complaint for a protection from harassment order unless the harassment case involves an allegation of stalking, sexual assault, or domestic or dating violence – in that case, there would be no fee. If you cannot afford the filing fee and service fee, ask the clerk for a “Motion to Proceed Without Payment of Fees" form, in which you would give financial information about your income.1 The judge would evaluate your financial situation and decide whether s/he believes you can afford the filing fee. The forms are available from the court free of charge and also on the Pine Tree Legal Assistance website. Call the clerk of court in your county if you have any questions. Go to our Maine Courthouse Locations page for contact information.

      Note: You may also be responsible for the cost for service on the harasser unless the court has waived the fee. If the judge has waived the fees, the court will pay the service fee – you will not have to pay the sheriff to serve the forms on the harasser. You will want to ask the clerk's office if they will send the papers to the sheriff's department for service. If not, you will have to arrange for service yourself and take a copy of the fee waiver order with you to show the sheriff's office that you should not be billed for the service fee.2

      1 See A Guide to Protection from Abuse and Harassment Cases on the Maine Courts website
      2 See Pine Tree Legal Assistance’s Protection from Harassment page

      Do I need a lawyer to file for a protection from harassment order?

      You do not need a lawyer to file for a protection from harassment order.  However, you may wish to have a lawyer, especially if the harasser has a lawyer or if there are complicated issues in your case.  If you can, contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.

      If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be able to find free or low-cost legal help on the ME Finding a Lawyer page.

      After the hearing

      When will my order take effect?

      Your order will be in effect once it is properly served to the harasser - this is the same for a temporary ex parte order as well as a final order. If the harasser comes to the hearing and a final order is issued, s/he should be served with the order by the deputy sheriff at the courthouse. If your harasser does not come to the hearing, s/he will still have to be served with the order by a law enforcement officer before it will take effect.1

      1 See M.R.S. § 4655(6)

      How can I modify (change) or extend my protection from harassment order?

      To change (modify) your final protection from harassment order, you will need to make a motion to the court and the harasser must be notified. The court will have a hearing and may modify the terms of an existing order if circumstances have changed and the judge believes there is a good reason to change the order.1

      Note: Once you get a temporary order, a harasser may ask the court to end (terminate) or change (modify) the temporary order and must only give you two days’ notice before the court date.2 The court may also have the final hearing on the protection from harassment order at the same time it hears the harasser’s request to vacate or modify the temporary order.3

      To extend your protection from harassment order, you will need to file a “Motion to Extend.” The Maine courts website recommends filing your motion 30 days before the expiration date so that there is no gap in protection.3 The judge may extend your order for additional time if a judge believes that is necessary to protect you from harassment.

      1 5 M.R.S. § 4655(2)
      2 5 M.R.S. § 4654(6)
      3 A Guide to Protection from Abuse and Harassment Actions on the Maine Courts website

      What can I do if the harasser violates the order?

      If you believe the harasser has violated the order, you can immediately call the police. If the harasser was served with the protection from harassment order or consent agreement (or was present in court when it was issued against him/her) and violates the order or agreement, the police can immediately arrest him/her.1

      Violation of certain parts of a protective order is a Class D crime, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. In certain cases, a violation may be a Class C felony, or may be contempt of court.2

      If the harasser is ordered to pay you money and hasn’t paid, you may be able to file a petition for contempt. To do so, you will want to go back to the courthouse where the order was issued.3

      1 5 M.R.S. § 4659(2)
      2 A Guide to Protection from Abuse and Harassment Cases on the Maine Courts website
      3 See Pine Tree Legal Assistance’s Protection from Harassment page

      Protection from Abuse Orders (for the elderly/dependent/incapacitated)

      This section explains how an adult who is over 60, dependent, or incapacitated can file for a protection from abuse order against an extended family member or an unpaid caregiver who is abusing him/her. However, this doesn't affect his/her ability to file for a protection order against a family or household member or a dating partner just as any adult can. For more information about getting an order against a family or household member or dating partner, see our Protection from Abuse Orders (for domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, and more) section.

      What is the legal definition of abuse?

      Under Maine law, a person who is 60 years of age or older, a dependent adult, or an incapacitated adult can file for a protection from abuse against an extended family member or an unpaid care provider.1 Under these circumstances, abuse means that the extended family member or unpaid caregiver did one of the following:

      • caused you injury;
      • unreasonably confined you (for example, tying you to a bed);
      • used intimidation or cruel punishment that caused or is likely to cause you physical harm/pain or mental anguish;
      • financially exploited you (used deception, intimidation, undue influence, force or other unlawful means to get control over your property to benefit the abuser or someone else);
      • sexually abused you or sexually exploited you;
      • deprived you of your essential needs (e.g., withheld food, medicine, etc.);2
      • attempted to cause or caused bodily injury or offensive physical contact;
      • attempted to cause or caused sexual assault;
      • stalking as defined by law;
      • attempted to place or placed you in fear of bodily injury by threatening, harassing or tormenting;
      • forced you to do things that you have a right not to do;
      • forced you to not do things that you have a right to do;
      • substantially restricted your movements without lawful authority by:
        • removing you from your home, business, or school without consent or lawful authority;
        • moving you a substantial distance; or
        • confining you;
      • threatened a crime of violence that places you in reasonable fear that the crime will be committed;
      • repeatedly and without reasonable cause, followed you or was at or in the vicinity of your home, school, business or place of employment;
      • engaged in the unauthorized dissemination of certain private images; or
      • engaged in aggravated sex trafficking or sex trafficking.3

      A person who is 60 years of age or older, a dependent adult, or an incapacitated adult can also file for a protection from abuse order on behalf of him/herself or his/her minor child against a family or household member or a dating partner, just as any adult can. For more information, see our Protection from Abuse Orders (for domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, and more) section.

      1 ME ST T. 19-A § 4005(1)
      2 ME ST T. 19-A § 4005(1); ME ST T. 22 § 3472(1),(9-A)
      3 ME ST T. 19-A §§ 4005(1); 4002(1)

      Who is considered a "dependent adult?"

      A “dependent adult” means an adult who has a physical or mental condition that substantially impairs (greatly weakens) the adult's ability to adequately provide for his/her daily needs. A dependent adult includes, but is not limited to, any of the following:

      • someone who lives in a nursing home;
      • someone who lives in an assisted living facility;
      • someone who is unable to perform self-care because of advanced age or physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect; or
      • someone who, regardless of where s/he lives, is wholly or partially dependent upon one or more other people for care or support, either emotional or physical, because s/he suffers from a significant limitation in mobility (getting around), vision, hearing or emotional or mental functioning.1

      1 ME ST T. 22 § 3472(6); ME ST T. 17-A § 555(2)(B)

      Who is considered an "incapacitated adult?"

      An “incapacitated adult” means someone who is impaired (negatively affected) by reason of mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability and therefore, s/he does not have sufficient understanding or capacity (ability) to make or communicate responsible decisions to care for himself/herself or manage his/her finances.1

      1 ME ST T. 22 § 3472(10)

      What is the definition of "extended family member" or "unpaid care provider?"

      For the purposes of filing for this type of protection from abuse order, “extended family member” includes, but is not limited to someone who is related to you by:

      • blood;
      • marriage; or
      • adoption.1

      Note: It does not matter if you ever lived with this person or not.1

      Unpaid care provider” includes, but is not limited to, someone who voluntarily provides full-time, part-time or occasional personal care to you in your home similar to the way a family member would provide personal care. This person cannot be paid for his/her services.1

      ME ST T. 19-A § 4005(1)

      Who can file the petition?

      The following people can file a petition (complaint) for the protection order on your behalf:

      • you (the adult victim);
      • your legal guardian; or
      • a representative of the department.1

      1 ME ST T 19-A § 4005(1)

      Where can I find more information about protection from abuse orders for the elderly, dependent, and incapacitated?

      For more information, you can go to our Protection from Abuse Orders (for domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, and more) section. The protections that you can get in an order, the steps to getting an order, and most of the rest of the information in that section will apply to a protection from abuse order that an elderly, dependent, or incapacitated person can get against an extended family member or unpaid caregiver. The main difference between this section and that section is that this section explains in more detail who can qualify for an order, what additional relationships can qualify a person for an order, and what additional acts qualify as abuse.

      Moving to Another State with a Protection from Abuse Order

      If you are moving out of state or are going to be out of the state for any reason, your protection from abuse order can be enforceable in another state.

      General information

      Can I get my protection from abuse order from Maine enforced in another state?

      Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your protection from abuse order (PFA) enforced in another state.

      Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid PFA is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.1  Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state. You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our Advocates and Shelters page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.

      1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

       

      How do I know if my protection from abuse order is good under federal law?

      A protection from abuse order is good anywhere in the United States as long as:

      • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.1
      • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
      • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
        • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.2

      Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

      1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
      2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

      I have a temporary protection from abuse order. Can it be enforced in another state?

      Yes.  A temporary protection from abuse order can be enforced in other states as long as it meets the requirements listed in How do I know if my PFA is good under federal law?1

      Note: The state where you are going generally cannot extend your temporary protection from abuse order or issue you a permanent order when the temporary one expires.  If you need to extend your temporary order, you will have to contact the state that issued the order and arrange to be at the hearing in person or by telephone (if that is an option offered by the court).  However, you may be able to reapply for one in the new state that you are moving to if you meet the requirements for getting a protective order in that state – but, if you apply for one in a new state, the abuser would know what state you are living in, which may put you in danger.

      1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(b)(2)

       

      Getting your order of protection enforced in another state

      How do I get my protection from abuse order enforced in another state?

      Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your protection from abuse order enforced in another state. However, many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about enforcement of out-of-state orders. These rules differ from state to state, so it is important to find out what the rules are before you try to get your protection from abuse order enforced in another state. Although knowing the state rules can make enforcement easier, a valid protection from abuse order is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.

      Do I need anything special to get my protection from abuse order enforced?

      In most states, you will need a certified copy of your protection from abuse order.  A certified copy says that it is a "true and correct" copy; it is signed and initialed by the clerk of court that gave you the order, and usually has some kind of court stamp.

      In Maine, a certified copy has a raised seal. If your copy is not a certified copy, call or go to the court that gave you the order and ask for a certified copy. You can find contact information for courthouses in Maine on our ME Courthouse Locations page.

       

      Can I get someone to help me through this process? Do I need a lawyer?

      You do not need a lawyer to get your protection from abuse order enforced in another state.

      However, you may want to get help from a local domestic violence advocate or attorney in the state that you move to.  A domestic violence advocate can let you know what the advantages and disadvantages are for registering your order, and help you through the process if you decide to do so.

      To find a domestic violence advocate or an attorney in the state to which you are moving, go to our Finding a Lawyer page and select the appropriate state from the drop-down menu.

      Enforcing custody provisions in Maine

      I was granted temporary custody with my PFA order. Can I take my kids out of the state?

      Maybe. It may depend on the exact wording of the custody provision in your protection from abuse order.  You may have to first seek the permission of the court before leaving.  If the abuser was granted visitation rights with your children, then you may have to have the order changed, or show the court that there is a fair and realistic alternative to the current visitation schedule.

      If you are unsure about whether or not you can take your kids out of the state, it is important to talk to a lawyer who understands domestic violence and custody laws, and can help you make the safest decision for you and your children.  You can find contact information for local domestic violence organizations and legal assistance on our ME Advocates and Shelters page.

      I was granted temporary custody with my PFA order. Will another state enforce the custody order?

      Yes. Custody, visitation, and child support provisions that are included in a PFA order can be enforced across state lines. Law enforcement and courts in another state are required by federal law to enforce these provisions.1

      1 18 USC § 2266

      Enforcing your Out-of-State Order in Maine

      If you are planning to move to Maine or are going to be in Maine for any reason, your protection or restraining order can be enforced.

      General rules for out-of-state orders in Maine

      Can I get my protection order enforced in Maine? What are the requirements?

      Yes. Your protection order can be enforced in Maine as long as:

      • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.1
      • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
      • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
        • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.2

      Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

      1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
      2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

      Can I have my out-of-state protection order changed, extended or canceled in Maine?

      No.  Only the state that issued your protection order can change, extend, or cancel the order. You cannot have this done by a court in Maine.

      To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued. You may be able to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where the abuser is living. To find out more information about how to modify a restraining order, see the Restraining Orders page for the state where your order was issued and select the issuing state from the drop-down menu in the upper left-hand corner.

      If your order does expire while you are living in Maine, you may be able to get a new one issued in Maine but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have taken place in Maine. To find out more information on how to get a protection from abuse order in Maine, visit our Protection from Abuse Orders (for victims of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault) page.

      I was granted temporary custody with my out-of-state protection order. Will I still have temporary custody of my children in ME?

      Yes. As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,1 Maine can enforce a temporary custody order that is a part of a protection order.

      To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets these standards, contact a lawyer in your area. To find a lawyer in your area click here ME Finding a Lawyer.

      1 The federal laws are the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980.

       

      Registering your out-of-state order in Maine

      How do I register my protection order in Maine? Do I have to register it to get it enforced?

      You can file your protection order in district court - at least one of the forms that you will fill out is listed on the Maine Courts website here (although there may be additional forms or this form may be subject to change).  Bring a certified copy of the order along with another non-certified copy (i.e., a photocopy of the order).

      You do not need a lawyer to register your protection order. If you are confused or worried about the process, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Maine to ask for help from a local advocate. To find a local domestic violence organization in Maine, please go to our ME Advocates and Shelters page.

      In terms of whether or not you need to register your order, police officers are required by federal law to enforce your protection order, whether or not it is registered - however, it can sometimes be easier to enforce an order that is registered.

      Will the abuser be notified if I register my protection order in Maine?

      Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.1  However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

      However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to.  It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living.  We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Safety Tips page.  You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our ME Advocates and Shelters page.

      1 18 USC § 2265(d)

      What if I don't register my protection order? Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?

      Maybe. If your order is not entered into the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) database (a national database of protection orders that some states keep records in), and you do not have a copy of your order with you when the police officer arrives, it may be difficult to for the ME police officer to make sure that your order is real. If the officer cannot verify that your order is real, s/he may not be able to enforce your order.

      If you do not register your order, it is a good idea to keep a copy of your order with you at all times. If you do not register your order and you do not have a copy with you, you can ask officer who arrives on the scene to either call the court that issued your order or the law enforcement authority that gave you your order to verify it.

      Note: If you have a copy of your protection order with you, and if it is listed in the NCIC, then it may not matter if your protection order is registered in Maine or not.

      If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area. An advocate there can help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in Maine. To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in ME, go to our ME Advocates and Shelters page.

      Does it cost anything to register my protection order?

      No. There is no cost to register your order.1

      1 ME ST T. 14 § 8006(2)