Divorce & Domestic Violence in Maryland
Domestic Violence in Maryland: Grounds for Divorce
Chronic domestic abuse, known as “cruelty of treatment,” is one of the grounds for divorce in Maryland – but the abuse must persist for an extended time period. If an abused person is being subjected to domestic violence in Maryland, he or she may need to seek the intervention of the Maryland Courts. Maryland law defines domestic violence “abuse” as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between “family or household members”:
- An act that places a person in fear of imminent serious bodily harm
- An act that causes serious bodily harm
- Rape or sexual offense
- Attempt rape or sexual offense
- False imprisonment, such as interference with freedom, physically keeping you from leaving your home or kidnapping you.
What remedy is available before my Divorce?
In Maryland, Courts can order a person to refrain from abusing a current or former spouse, domestic partner [either gender], minor child or vulnerable adult family member by issuing either a Protective Order or a Peace Order. These Orders are civil orders issued by a judge that direct an abusive person to refrain from committing certain violent acts against an eligible victim. Protective Orders and Peace Orders are the key source of relief for victims of domestic violence in Maryland. These orders can be obtained at any time on a 24/7 basis and before filing for divorce.
An eligible victim may seek a Protective Order or Peace Order if the victim and alleged abuser:
- Are current or former spouses or domestic partners
- Have lived together in an intimate relationship for at least 90 days during the past year
- Are in a parent-child, or stepparent-stepchild relationship and have resided together for at least 90 days during the past year
- Are in a caretaker-vulnerable adult relationship
- Are the parents of a child together
Can My Attorney Help?
Yes. At the Coover Law Firm we are experienced in obtaining Protective Orders and Peace Orders on an emergency and permanent basis. Our attorneys and staff are keenly aware of the sensitivities of these situations and we are there to help with the particulars of your case.
What does a Protective Order or Peace Order do for me?
If you file for a Protective Order or Peace Order, you can ask the Court for certain kinds of help:
The first step is usually a temporary order, which is immediate. In an Interim or Temporary Protective Order or Peace Order, the judge can order that the abuser:
- Stop abusing you
- Stay away from you and to not try to contact you or harass you at your home, school, job, or the place where you may be staying, stay away from your child’s school, and from your family members’ homes
- Stay out of your house
- Leave the home where the two of you live, if you are married to the abuser, AND you were living with your abuser at the time of the abuse
- Leave the home if you are not married to the abuser, but were living with the abuser at the time of the abuse, AND your name is on the lease or deed for the house, OR you lived with the abuser for at least 90 days within the past year
- The judge can also give you temporary child custody of any children that you have with the abuser
Once a hearing is held, a judge can issue a final Protective Order or Peace Order. These orders go further to protect your interests. In a Final Protective Order or Peace Order a judge can order any of the above, and can also:
- Establish temporary visitation with children
- Award emergency family maintenance [financial support]
- Award use and possession of jointly titled car
- Order counseling
- Order the abuser to surrender all firearms
- Order the abuser to pay filing fees and court costs
If you are the victim of domestic violence in Maryland and are in need of protection from a Maryland Court, please do not hesitate to call the Coover Law Firm. Howard County Family Law Attorney Fred L. Coover, Esquire serves individuals and families in Columbia MD and throughout Howard County (including Ellicott City MD, Clarksville MD, Elkridge MD, Fulton MD, Glenwood MD, Glenelg MD, Dayton MD, Sykesville MD, Woodbine MD and more). Call us at 410-995-1100 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with an experienced and dedicated divorce attorney. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you with your legal needs.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is provided for general educational & informational purposes only. It is not intended to convey legal advice or serve as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.