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Maine Court Records

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Where To Find Family Court Cases In Maine

In Maine, family court case files are generated and stored by the various Family and Juvenile divisions of the State District courts. These case files are designed to provide an official account of the state’s family court system. The family courts hear family-related matters such as the emancipation of minors, divorce, child custody, and cases defined under the Maine Juvenile Code. Family court records are open to the public. As such, citizens and residents may query clerks of the county courthouses to access and retrieve these records.

The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.

What Is Family Law In Maine?

Title 19-A Domestic Relations of the Maine Revised Statutes is dedicated to addressing domestic relationships in the state. The law consists of a total of 4 parts and 20 chapters namely;

Part 1: GENERAL PROVISIONS

  • Chapter 1: General Provisions
  • Chapter 3: Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Chapter 5: Family Law Advisory Commission

Part 2: MARRIED PERSONS

  • Chapter 21: Uniform Premarital Agreement Act
  • Chapter 23: Marriage
  • Chapter 25: Rights of Married Persons
  • Chapter 27: Judicial Separation
  • Chapter 29: Divorce

Part 3: PARENTS AND CHILDREN

  • Chapter 51: General Provisions
  • Chapter 53: Paternity
  • Chapter 55: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Chapter 57: Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act
  • Chapter 58: Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
  • Chapter 59: Grandparents And Great-grandparents Visitation Rights
  • Chapter 61: Maine Parentage Act
  • Chapter 63: Child Support Guidelines
  • Chapter 65: Support Enforcement
  • Chapter 67:Uniform Interstate Family Support Act
  • Chapter 69: Uniform Civil Liability for Support Act

Part 4: PROTECTION FROM ABUSE

  • Chapter 101: Protection from Abuse

What Are Family Court Cases And Records In Maine?

The family division of the district court maintains a justice system that is responsive to the needs of the family according to Title 4 and Section 183 of the Maine Revised Statutes. This division addresses a variety of cases relating to matters involving parents and children. Family court magistrates, in a non-jury formation, preside over these cases. Some cases handled in the Family Division include:

  • Divorces
  • Annulments
  • Separation
  • Child custody and support
  • Cases regarding grandparent visitation
  • Paternity cases
  • Emancipation of minors (also addressed in the juvenile division)
  • Protective custody and protection from abuse
  • Parental rights and responsibility cases
  • Cases regarding ways to become a parent (Adoption, Guardianship and Name change)

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

Are Family Court Cases Public Records In Maine?

In Maine, The Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) allows access to public family court records maintained within its limits. This act grants public access to electronic and paper family court documents unless exempted by federal or state law. Such exempted details include juvenile records, medical information, credit information, financial information, social security number, tax IDs, and other personal identifying information. Thus, the court will be unable to provide access to non-public records without a proper court order.

How Do I Find Family Court Records In Maine?

The Maine Judicial Branch typically stores and distributes court records through individual courthouses where family court cases are handled initially. To find a particular family court record, start by locating the appropriate court of interest using the Maine Judiciary website’s court directory. In addition, the judicial branch provides downloadable forms that can be used to request copies of family court documents in all the state’s district courts. Necessary details needed to facilitate the search can include the case number and names of parties in the case. Requesters with this information may then proceed to the courthouse in person or send a mail. Contact the court to know if there are alternate means of record retrieval and also ascertain fees and accepted payment methods. Copies of family court records cost $2 for the first page and $1 for each additional copy of the same document requested at the same time. Certified or attested documents cost an additional $5 per page. In some cases, picture identification may be required.

All mail requests must be submitted with the Request for Records Search Form, check or money order of appropriate fees, a state-issued ID, and a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

Judicial Branch Service Center

PO Box 266

Lewiston, ME 04243

It is also possible to make requests for court records by calling the court clerk. Callers are expected to provide sufficient information about the case of interest as well as a valid ID for payment. Phone requests are usually available for pick-up in person or by mail. Note that clerks charge an additional $5 for mail deliveries.

Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.

How Do I Find Family Court Records Online?

The Maine Judicial branch does not provide a central repository of electronic court documents. As such, records of family court cases filed and heard in Maine are not available remotely. Requesters must either visit the applicable courthouse or send mail requests in order to access these records.

What Is Maine Custody Law?

Maine Child custody cases are governed by Part 3 of the state’s family law, including:

Part 3: PARENTS AND CHILDREN

  • Chapter 51: General Provisions
  • Chapter 53: Paternity
  • Chapter 55: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Chapter 57: Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act
  • Chapter 58: Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
  • Chapter 59: Grandparents And Great-grandparents Visitation Rights
  • Chapter 61: Maine Parentage Act
  • Chapter 63: Child Support Guidelines
  • Chapter 65: Support Enforcement
  • Chapter 67:Uniform Interstate Family Support Act
  • Chapter 69: Uniform Civil Liability for Support Act

Maine Family Courts may award shared parental responsibilities and primary residence rights to both parents in a custody case. This is to ensure that the child spends quality time with both parents. Other times, albeit very rarely, the court may allocate sole parental rights to just one parent. Both parents may decide to share the responsibility of caring for the child. When this is not the case, and the parents cannot agree, the issue is heard in court.

The Maine family court handles the case by applying the “best interest of the child” standard when making its decision. This constitutes;

  • The child’s age and preference
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The child’s present living conditions and desire to maintain continuity
  • The child’s adjustment to current and new home, community, and school
  • The criminal history of both parents
  • History of abuse or neglect

Generally, child custody cases are public records according to state laws. However, these cases usually contain a lot of personal identifying information about the parents and minors/juveniles involved, potentially threatening their safety. Hence, parts or all of the records may be sealed by judicial order.

How To Find Family Court Lawyers In Maine

Individuals seeking legal assistance may search the Lawyer and Legal Help webpage launched on the Maine Judicial Branch website. The Maine State Bar Association also provides a Lawyer Referral Service where those in need of legal representation can find certified and licensed family law attorneys practicing in the state.

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