Supporting our clients in

rebuilding their lives.

You may have read in the news about the severe funding cut that has threatened to upend victim services in Maine. (If not, you can read about it below.) This issue of our newsletter is all about our work on behalf of survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking.

Sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking are serious problems in Maine. Although most individuals involved in the criminal justice system are entitled to court-appointed counsel if they cannot afford an attorney, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault are not provided legal representation when trying to obtain a protection from abuse or harassment order (Maine’s version of a restraining order). Without access to free legal aid, they must face their abusers alone in court or hire a private attorney, which is an unaffordable option for many victims.

Our Family Law and Victim Rights Unit works with survivors, meeting survivors where they are and providing access to a full range of critical civil legal services. We assist in obtaining protection from abuse orders, custody arrangements, and addressing issues like spousal or child support in challenging situations.

Access to legal help has a huge impact on reducing violence. One study found that having a permanent protection order in effect was associated with an 80% reduction in police-reported physical violence in the next year.

When a survivor is represented by a Pine Tree Legal attorney, they are represented by someone who is trained in the dynamics of interpersonal violence. Our attorneys not only prepare the legal aspects of the case, but they are part of the team providing trauma-informed services to the survivor.

In addition to this, we frequently hear from survivors that court processes can be intimidating and re-traumatizing for them. Often times, survivors are forced to be in the same courtroom as their abuser and are frequently asked to narrate some of the most private details of their lives in front of a courtroom full of strangers.

Our Family Law and Victim Rights Unit is committed to providing legal safeguards and support for our clients while holding abusers accountable. Thank you for supporting our work and making outcomes like these possible.

Did you know:

  • In 2023, 1,369 Pine Tree cases involved family law, primarily working with survivors of domestic and sexual abuse and the non-offending caregivers to child sex abuse victims.

With so many different types of law to practice why is it that you chose family law?

"I chose family law specifically because of my social work background. I worked with teens aging out of foster care in Vermont for a number of years, and in that role had the opportunity to work with families (both biological and chosen) a lot. I think having that background has been useful in meeting our clients where they are at when they come to Pine Tree for help with their issues. Family law, and specifically working with survivors and people with barriers to accessing justice, felt like a very natural next step."

Have you ever considered practicing a different type of law?

"Yes, specifically youth defense work. I was in the Youth Justice Clinic at Maine Law for a year, and that work is very near and dear to me. I do miss working with sassy teenagers, they keep you on your toes."

This month we are spotlighting our good friends at the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA). At Pine Tree Legal, we know the importance of collaborating with organizations whose missions are interconnected with ours and support them to ensure they are also strong.

MECASA's mission is to end sexual violence and to support high-quality sexual violence prevention and response within Maine communities. MECASA's work spans a range of programming and partnerships to bring the voices of Maine's sexual assault support centers, and the victims/survivors they serve, to statewide and national sexual violence prevention and response efforts.

Check out MECASA's website and learn more about their work and how you can support them today!

Maine faces 60-percent cut to victim services funding |

The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) uses non-taxpayers money to support victims of crime through domestic violence organizations, rape crisis centers, child abuse treatment programs, and more. Sustained VOCA funds are needed to ensure that victims can reach out for help when they are in danger.

On January 23rd, Sen. Anne Carney, introduced a bill to replace waning federal funding for the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). LD 2084, “An Act to Provide Funding for Essential Services for Victims of Crimes,” was the subject of a public hearing before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee. Click here to read the Portland Press Herald article!

We couldn't resist a great photo opportunity at the state house here after a successful work session on LD 2084! Pictured here, Pine Tree's Family Law Attorney, Lucia Hunt, and Executive Director, Tom Fritzsche, along with colleagues from MECASA, Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, Legal Services for Maine Elders, and the Maine Office of the Attorney General. (Thanks for sharing, MECASA!)

Join us in the fight for justice today!

*Members of the Bar please consider donating to the Campaign for Justice.

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