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:
- marriage; or
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.