Homeowner Questions

Please note: The Judicial Branch cannot provide legal advice.
For services that offer legal advice, please review the Foreclosure Prevention Resources page.

Am I in Foreclosure?
Do I need to move out if I am in foreclosure?
What is the Foreclosure Diversion Program (FDP)?
Who can have FDP mediation?
How do I ask for mediation?
Do I have to fill out the big packet of forms that came with the complaint?
How does the FDP help me?
What should I bring to the Informational Session?
What happens at mediation?
Do I need a lawyer to go to mediation?
What does mediation cost?
What if I cannot make it to court on my mediation date?
If I sign up for mediation will I keep my house?
How do I contact the Foreclosure Diversion Program?

 

Am I in Foreclosure?

You are only in foreclosure if you have been given court papers, including a form called a "Summons" and papers called a "Complaint."  A sheriff brings these forms to you, or they will come by mail. Once you have them, you are in foreclosure. If you are in foreclosure, the lender cannot take your money even if you try to pay unless you have made a trial agreement or the case is dismissed (dropped).

Do I need to move out now if I am in foreclosure?  In Maine, foreclosure is a court process. It takes some time.  If you have mediation, the case is “on hold” during that process.  If you settle your case, you might make a plan to stay in your home. Even if the case ends with a judgment of foreclosure in court, this may take a few months.  After that, you would have three months to “undo” the judgment by paying the whole debt (“Period of Redemption”).  The bank must then advertise and sell the property.  If the property is sold, you must move out then. It takes at least 6 months to finish a foreclosure.

What is the Foreclosure Diversion Program?

The Foreclosure Diversion Program (FDP) offers mediation in the Maine courts. It gives both you and your lender the chance to talk about ways you might end your foreclosure, and if you might be able to settle your dispute.  You will also learn from a judge and a housing expert about mediation and how to make the most of mediation.

Who can have FDP mediation?

To have FDP mediation, you have to be in foreclosure, you have to ask for mediation, and your property must:

  1. Be in Maine;
  2. Be your home, where you live most of the time (vacation homes do not count); and
  3. Have no more than 4 units, including yours.

If your property meets these requirements, you may have mediation if you ask for it.

How do I ask for mediation?

To ask for mediation, you must write that you want mediation on a piece of paper and give it (or mail it) to the court clerk and send a copy to your lender's lawyer. You can also fill out the one-page Answer form that came with the complaint, but you do not have to use it.

Do I have to fill out the big packet of forms that came with the complaint?

No. To have FDP mediation, you do not have to complete or send in any financial documents before your first mediation. Some homeowners do send documents or talk with lenders in advance, but the FDP does not require that.

How does the FDP help me?

At the Informational Session, the FDP helps you learn about your case and how to try to work with your lender.  A judge and a housing counselor or attorney talk to you and help you find free help with the financial forms that lenders often need from homeowners.

After the Informational Session, you attend mediation on the same day. The mediator helps you talk with your lender about ways to settle your case.  This meeting gives you a better chance of keeping your home.  Even if you end up moving out, you can make a plan with the lender about that. (Sometimes lenders help with moving expenses or make a plan that helps in other ways, like finishing a school year before moving.)

If financial documents are needed, FDP mediation helps because the mediator makes sure there is a clear list of documents, and all parties understand what the next steps are.  All parties are expected to keep their promises.

What should I bring to the Informational Session?

  1. If you have forms from your lender, please bring them. You don't need to fill them in;
  2. Please come with an idea of how much money you have coming in each month; and
  3. Please bring a snack – you might have to wait a bit for your turn in mediation.

What happens at mediation?

You meet with your lender (who might be on the phone), your lender's attorney, and the mediator. The mediator will explain how mediation works and will help to answer your questions.  You will have the chance to say what happened and if you want to keep the house.  You will also hear the lender say what happened with your loan and how you might be able to end the foreclosure case.  You will be able to ask questions and to make a plan.

The mediator will make sure that both sides have the chance to speak and important issues are addressed.  The mediator will not take sides and or make any decisions about your case.  The mediator does write a report for the court. (You may see the mediator typing on a laptop.) The Mediator's Report says what happened at mediation and what plan the parties have made. You will be asked to read or to listen to what the mediator wrote to be sure it is correct before you sign it. You can ask the mediator to change it if it is not correct.

Do I need a lawyer to go to mediation?

No, you do not need to have a lawyer to go to FDP mediation.  However, if you already have a lawyer for your foreclosure case, your lawyer must come with you to mediation.

What does mediation cost?

There is no fee for homeowners in FDP mediation. Lenders pay a mediation fee when they file a foreclosure case.

What if I cannot make it to court on my mediation date?

a) I know ahead of time.  Contact the court clerk as soon as you know that you can't make it to court on the date set by the court notice. The clerk will need something in writing to say why you can't make it and to ask for a new date. Be sure to write the case number on the paper and send a copy to the lender's lawyer. If you wish, you can use the “Motion to Continue Mediation in Foreclosure Action” form (FDP-04).  Fill in the form and send it to the court.  (Send a copy to the lender's lawyer.) The judge will decide whether your date can be changed. If you have not heard what the judge decided, call the clerk to find out. The date does not change unless a judge says so.  No news means your mediation is still on!

b) It’s the last minute!  If you cannot make the court date due to a last minute emergency, call the clerk and explain.  You will also need to send a written note to the clerk to explain what happened and what you would like. Not showing up can mean you lose your chance for mediation. It is important to let the court know why you are not there if you can't make it. A judge will decide whether your mediation may be rescheduled.

If I sign up for mediation will I keep my house?

FDP mediation offers you a chance to work out your case with the lender, and you might keep your house. It does not stop the foreclosure, but it does put the case “on hold” for a time to allow the parties a chance to work out a solution.

How do I contact the Foreclosure Diversion Program?

If you want to contact the FDP, please contact Laura Pearlman, the FDP Manager at (207) 822-0706 or by email FDMP@courts.maine.gov.