Domestic Violence / Protective Orders

Domestic violence too often goes hand in hand with divorce and custody issues. If you have recently been abused or threatened by your spouse or your child’s other parent you may need a protective order. Read below for more information about how and why protective orders are issued. If your spouse or child’s other parent is trying to get a protective order against you, read below so that you know what the court will consider in deciding whether to issue a protective order against you and what the court might require in that order. If you need representation for a protective order hearing fill out our contact form and speak with an attorney who can help.

  • Q: What is a protective order and who can get one?
  • A: A protective order is an order from the Court aimed at protecting the Petitioner (person requesting relief) from abuse by a particular individual. Abuse is defined as (i) an act that causes serious bodily harm; (ii) an act that places a person eligible for relief in fear of imminent serious bodily harm; (iii) assault in any degree; (iv) rape or sexual offense under §§ 3-303 through 3-308 of the Criminal Law Article or attempted rape or sexual offense in any degree; (v) false imprisonment; or (vi) stalking under § 3-802 of the Criminal Law Article.

    A protective order can be requested by or ordered against a spouse, cohabitant, relative by blood, marriage, or adoption, a vulnerable adult, a child, parent, stepparent, or stepchild who has resided with the petitioner or respondent for at least 90 days within one year prior to the filing of the petition, or a person with whom you have a child in common.

    An adult can request a protective order on behalf of a child or vulnerable adult as long as the petitioner is related to the child or vulnerable adult by blood, marriage, or adoption, or is an adult residing in the same home with the child or vulnerable adult.

  • Q: I need help immediately; can I get a protective order fast?
  • A: There are different types of protective orders in terms of their duration. Interim and Temporary protective orders can be granted by the Court based solely on your petition if the Court finds a reasonable basis to believe that abuse has occurred. An interim protective order is issued immediately by the commissioner if you request your protective order when the court is closed. It is only effective once the Respondent has been served with the order, and it only lasts until the next day that the Court is open when you will have an opportunity for a temporary protective order hearing before a Judge.

    A temporary protective order may be issued immediately if you request it during court hours and will be effective once it is served on the Respondent if you have not received an interim protective order first. A temporary protective order will only last for seven days or until the date that you are given to come back to court for a final protective order hearing. If the Respondent has already been served with an interim protective order he/or she will have a right to appear and be heard at the temporary protective order hearing, and the Court may convert that hearing into a final protective order hearing if both parties are present and consent.

    The final protective order hearing is a full hearing where both the Petitioner and Respondent can appear and present evidence. The Court must find by a preponderance of the evidence that the alleged abuse occurred before it can issue a final protective order. A final protective order is effective for one year.

  • Q: Can I get a protective order for my children?
  • A: Yes. You can get a protective order for the benefit of children, or a vulnerable adult that you are related to or live with.
  • Q: What can a protective order do for me, or how can it restrict me if I am the Respondent?
  • A: A protective order can direct the Respondent to refrain from further abuse or threats of abuse, to vacate the family home, to stay away from the Petitioner, the Petitioner’s residence, place of business, school, child care facility, or other appropriate place.

    In some cases the Court can award the Petitioner use and possession of the family home and family use vehicles, and temporary custody of children of the parties. The Court can also direct the Respondent to pay emergency family maintenance to the Petitioner in some circumstances and can order any or all of the parties or persons eligible for relief to attend professionally supervised counseling or a domestic violence program.

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