Family-related legal issues are inherently personal, and involve difficult issues. There is no single solution that will work to resolve different families’ legal needs. Our attorneys work to address those challenges by combining legal knowledge, a common sense approach, and an understanding of the emotional needs of our clients. Our attorneys have considerable experience trying cases before judges and juries, but we also strive to resolve cases amicably through settlement discussions and alternative dispute resolution procedures (such as mediation).
Our capable attorneys can assist you with many domestic relations/family law matters, including matters related to divorce, child custody and child support, and parental rights and responsibilities.
Abuse and Harassment
Maine law protects victims of abuse and harassment. Individuals can seek protection from abuse (commonly referred to as “PFA”) orders, or protection from harassment (“PFH”) orders, to obtain emergency, short, or long-term protection. These orders are important – offering protection to victims, addressing parental rights and contact, possession of homes, and temporary support. Further, the process to obtain, or to defend against, a request for a protective order is expedited. These cases usually resolve in a matter of weeks.
Protection from Abuse
A PFA is a court order that serves as a restraining order for cases generally involving family or household members, or a dating partner. Other forms of abuse can form the basis of a PFA even if they were committed by someone who is not a family or household member, or dating partner. “Abuse” is defined by statute, but includes attempting or causing bodily injury or offensive physical contact, sexual assault, stalking, attempting to or placing another person in fear of bodily injury by threat, harassment, or torment, or restricting the movements of a person. When a petition for a PFA is sought, often times the Court will grant an emergency protective order. Shortly after the petition is filed, a final hearing will be scheduled where both sides will have an opportunity to present evidence and a Judge will determine if a final protection from abuse order will issue. Many times, the parties will attempt to negotiate a consent order, where protection orders are issued without findings of abuse.
Protection from Harassment
Maine also has a statute addressing orders for the protection from harassment. Maine law defines harassment as three or more acts of intimidation, confrontation, physical force, or threat of physical force, that are: 1) directed against any person, family, or business; 2) made with the intention of causing fear, intimidation, or damage to property; and 3) actually causes fear, intimidation, or damage to property. Committing a single act or course of conduct involving matters such as stalking, assault, criminal threatening, reckless conduct, sexual abuse, criminal restraint, harassment, unauthorized dissemination of private images, and numerous other listed offenses, may also form the basis for a protection from harassment order. Like protections from abuse, once an initial petition is filed, emergency protection orders may issue and the matter will be set for a final hearing.
Whether you are seeking to obtain a protective order, or defend against an order sought against you, our attorneys can guide you through the process, ensure that you are filing under the correct statute, and assist you in negotiating a resolution or representing you during a hearing.