What if I have questions about a specific case?
If you have questions specific to your pending case, please call your attorney or the District Court in which your case is filed.
If you have questions about where or how to file a family matter case, call the District Court for the town in which you live.
Please be advised employees of the Judicial Branch, including clerks, cannot give legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult a lawyer or legal services provider. A list of legal service providers is available by clicking here.
A list of District Court locations by town is available by clicking here.
What is the Family Division?
The Family Division is part of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), located in Augusta, Maine.
Since 1998, the Family Division has provided legal and administrative support to the Maine District Courts handling family division related proceedings involving children. This includes divorce, annulment, judicial separation, parental rights and responsibilities, paternity, child support (including cases brought under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act), visitation rights of grandparents, emancipation, and any post-judgment motions arising from these actions. Family Division related proceedings also include are protective custody proceedings, protection from abuse actions and cases brought under the Maine Juvenile Code.
The mission of the Family Division is to "provide a system of justice that is responsive to the needs of families and the support of their children." 4 M.R.S. § 183.
The goals of the Family Division are:
- To study and create a timely resolution of family cases.
- To address promptly the establishment, modification and enforcement of child support orders and other orders in family proceedings.
- To study effective case management for family cases involving children.
- To facilitate parenting arrangements in the best interest of children at an early stage in the proceedings.
- To promote education for the parties about parenting issues and to inform litigants about community services available to help them address family problems.
- To provide court users with a better understanding of court processes.
- To identify domestic relations cases in which there is domestic abuse or a power imbalance in order to protect children and adults and to ensure a fair resolution of the case.
- To promote civility in divorce and other family law proceedings.
- To minimize the harm to children caused by family law cases.
- To make appropriate referrals to alternative dispute resolution services.
The heart of the Family Division process in a family matters (FM) proceeding is a case management conference conducted by a Family Law Magistrate. A Family Law Magistrate is a judicial officer who has some of the powers of a judge. A case management conference is held early on in the case, usually within 35 to 45 days. One important purpose of the conference is to identify the issues on which the parties agree and those on which they disagree. Another purpose is to ensure that the needs of the children are being met. In addition, the conference provides an opportunity to establish a time frame and process for moving the case to resolution. This may include referral to mediation, referral to a parent education program or the appointment of a guardian ad litem. The Family Law Magistrate will complete a case management order at the close of the conference and may issue other orders, such as an interim (temporary) order governing parental rights and an interim child support order.
Case management conferences are also held in protective custody proceedings. These conferences, which are held early on in a case, provide a means for judges to actively direct the course of the proceedings so that the children involved in these cases may have safe, permanent homes as soon as possible.
If you have questions or comments regarding the goals or process of the Family Division including CASA, GAL and Access/Visitation.
State of Maine, Administrative Office of the Courts
171 State House Station, 1 Court Street, Suite 301, Augusta, ME 04333-0171
Phone: (207) 213-2850
Fax: (207) 430-4104
Elaine Clark, Esq., Family and Civil Process Manager - (207) 213-2860
Jodi Kimball, Administrative Assistant - (207) 213-2868
Tracy Leigh, Esq., Coordinator, Guardian Ad Litem Services - (207) 213-2862
Darren Defoe, Esq., CASA Legal Services Advisor - (207) 213-2864
Ellen Parent, J.D., CASA Legal Services Advisor - (207) 213-2863
Vacant, Family and Civil Process Specialist - (207) 213-2850
Vacant, CIP / Juvenile Case Process Specialist - (207) 213-2850