Maine Courts Overview
It helps to understand how the Maine state court system works when you’re trying to find court records. The Maine trial court system consists of Superior Courts, District Courts, Probate Courts, and Judicial Branch Violations Bureau.
Trial Courts in Maine are either state courts or county courts. Superior Courts and District Courts are considered state courts, and Probate Courts are county courts. Superior Courts have general jurisdiction over all cases, but usually only handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts. District Courts and Probate Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of cases.
If you prefer, you can start your search by going to Maine courts by county.
Maine Superior CourtsSuperior Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, but generally only handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts.
Superior Courts are the only courts that offer jury trials. If a proper request is made in a case with a right to a jury, the case will be transferred to a Superior Court.
Cases generally heard by Superior Courts include most felony criminal cases, appeals of administrative agency decisions, and cases requesting equitable relief.
Maine District CourtsDistrict Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases.
Criminal cases heard by District Courts include ordinance violations and most offenses punishable by less than a year of incarceration. District Courts also handle guilty pleas and non-jury trials for most criminal cases.
Civil cases heard by District Courts include most general civil claims for money damages, enforcement of liens, most landlord-tenant disputes, most domestic relations cases, most mental health commitments, most environmental law cases, civil ordinance violations and certain cases requesting equitable relief.
Each District Court has several divisions, including a Family Division, Juvenile Court, Small Claims Court and Traffic Division.
Family Divisions have jurisdiction over cases that involve families with children. Cases handled by the Family division include divorce, annulment, separation, custody, paternity, child support, grandparent visitation, emancipation of minors, protective custody, Protection From Abuse, and some cases arising from the Maine Juvenile Code. If a District Court judge is unavailable to hear a request for a temporary Protection From Abuse Order, a Superior Court judge can rule on the request.
Juvenile Court divisions have jurisdiction over criminal cases with juvenile defendants. Under certain circumstances, a Juvenile Court may transfer a case to Superior Court. Juvenile Court divisions share jurisdiction with District Courts over emancipation cases.
Small Claims Court divisions have jurisdiction over most cases with less than $4500 in dispute, exclusive of interest and costs. Small Claims Courts have limited authority to grant equitable relief, but may order a party to return, reform, refund, repair or rescind. Small Claims Court divisions are prohibited from hearing cases with disputes over title to real estate.
Cases that contest traffic infractions are heard by Traffic divisions in District Courts. The Maine Judicial Branch Violations Bureau is a centralized system designed to handle traffic infractions for the entire state, and is considered part of the District Court.
District Courts may have specialized divisions for certain types of cases, including Adult Drug Court, Family Treatment Drug Court, Juvenile Drug Court and/or Mental Health Treatment Court.
Maine Probate CourtsProbate Courts have general jurisdiction over the probate of wills, the administration of estates, name change petitions, guardianship proceedings, adoption cases, and other types of probate cases.
Probate Courts share equitable jurisdiction with Superior Courts for certain types of cases involving estates, wills or trusts.
Maine Judicial Branch Violations BureauThe Maine Judicial Branch Violations Bureau is a centralized system designed to handle traffic infractions for the entire state, and is considered part of the District Court. Cases that contest traffic infractions are heard by District Courts.
Maine Court NotesThe Business and Consumer Court is a specialized statewide court division for certain types of business and consumer cases. Cases handled by this division include jury and non-jury civil claims, as well as some family cases that do not involve children. All cases heard by the Business and Consumer Court division are transferred from other courts - this division does not accept the first filing in any case.
The Business and Consumer Court Clerk’s Office
Phone: 207-442-0226 Fax: 207-442-0228
Where to Find Court Cases in Maine
The chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of Maine court.
|Case Type||Court Type|
|Civil||Superior Courts||District Courts||Probate Courts|
|General Civil - Unlimited|
|General Civil - Limited|
|Foreclosures and Liens|
|Real Estate Title and Boundary|
|Landlord / Tenant|
|Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders|
|Administrative Agency Appeals|
|Criminal||Superior Courts||District Courts||Probate Courts|
|Felony Preliminary Hearings|
|Traffic and Infractions|
|Domestic Relations||Superior Courts||District Courts||Probate Courts|
|Child Custody and Visitation|
|Domestic Violence Protection Order|
|Juvenile||Superior Courts||District Courts||Probate Courts|
|Child Abuse and Neglect|
|Termination of Parental Rights|
|Children in Need of Supervision|
|Mental Health||Superior Courts||District Courts||Probate Courts|
|Other Mental Health Cases|
|Probate||Superior Courts||District Courts||Probate Courts|
|Wills & Estates|
|Guardianships and Conservatorships|