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Finding Court Records in Maine

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 Courts

Superior 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 Courts

District 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 Courts

Probate 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 Bureau

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. Cases that contest traffic infractions are heard by District Courts.

Maine Court Notes

The 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.

Most Cases = Most or all cases.     Some Cases = Some cases.

Case Type Court Type
Civil Superior Courts District Courts Probate Courts
General Civil - Unlimited Most or All Cases Some Cases  
General Civil - Limited Some Cases Some Cases  
Small Claims   Most or All Cases  
Civil Equity Most or All Cases Some Cases Some Cases
Complex Commercial Most or All Cases    
Foreclosures and Liens Some Cases Most or All Cases  
Real Estate Title and Boundary Some Cases Some Cases Some Cases
Landlord / Tenant Some Cases Most or All Cases  
Ordinance Violations   Most or All Cases  
Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders Some Cases Some Cases  
Administrative Agency Appeals Some Cases Some Cases  
Criminal Superior Courts District Courts Probate Courts
Felony Most or All Cases Some Cases  
Felony Preliminary Hearings Some Cases Some Cases  
Misdemeanors Some Cases Most or All Cases  
Ordinance Violations   Most or All Cases  
Juvenile Some Cases Most or All Cases  
Traffic and Infractions   Most or All Cases  
Domestic Relations Superior Courts District Courts Probate Courts
Divorce   Most or All Cases  
Child Custody and Visitation   Most or All Cases  
Child Support   Most or All Cases  
Paternity   Most or All Cases  
Domestic Violence Protection Order Some Cases Most or All Cases  
Juvenile Superior Courts District Courts Probate Courts
Adoptions     Most or All Cases
Juvenile Delinquency   Most or All Cases  
Child Abuse and Neglect   Most or All Cases  
Termination of Parental Rights   Most or All Cases  
Children in Need of Supervision   Most or All Cases  
Mental Health Superior Courts District Courts Probate Courts
Involuntary Commitments   Most or All Cases  
Other Mental Health Cases   Most or All Cases Some Cases
Probate Superior Courts District Courts Probate Courts
Wills & Estates Some Cases   Most or All Cases
Name Changes     Most or All Cases
Trusts Some Cases   Most or All Cases
Guardianships and Conservatorships Some Cases Some Cases Most or All Cases

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