Obtaining a Protective Order in Maryland | Howard County Lawyers
Separation and Divorce can often become an extremely heated process. Perhaps your spouse’s violent or threatening tendencies are what led to the separation, or perhaps these behaviors arose only after you began the process of separating from or divorcing your spouse. One thing is certain: you are protected under the law from being abused, threatened, or stalked, and a protective order can help ensure your safety. Here are some guidelines on when a protective order may be appropriate, how to get one, and what it does.
Who is eligible for a protective order?
Maryland law allows you to file for a protective order against an abusive person:
- to whom you’re married or used to be married;
- with whom you have a child;
- to whom you’re related by blood or marriage; or
- with whom you lived in a romantic relationship for at least 90 days in the preceding year.
Does my spouse or partner have to be physically abusive for me to be eligible for a protective order?
Not necessarily. Maryland state law defines “abuse” as:
- An act causing serious bodily harm;
- An act that puts someone in fear of imminent serious bodily harm;
- Rape or other sexual assault, or attempted rape or sexual assault;
- False imprisonment (i.e., holding you somewhere and preventing you from leaving); or
What does a protective order do?
A protective order, whether interim, temporary, or final, will create a court order stating that the abuser cannot:
- Abuse you or threaten to do so;
- contact, try to contact, or harass you;
- enter your home, or approach you at work, school, a temporary residence or family member’s house.
Under certain circumstances, the court could also order that the abuser must move out of the house you shared, pay emergency child or spousal support, give you temporary custody of the children, and relinquish any firearms that the abuser has.
What is the difference between interim, temporary, and final protective orders?
- Interim Orders may be issued when the court clerk’s office is closed. A commissioner can issue an interim order where they believe that you are being abused. Once law enforcement serves the order on the abuser, the interim order goes into effect, and will last only until a judge can hold a hearing on the protective order, typically within a few days.
- Temporary protective orders are issued when the court is open during normal business hours, or during a hearing held after an interim order was previously issued. The abuser doesn’t have to be present for a temporary order to be issued, but could be if the court is holding a hearing after issuing an interim order. Temporary orders last for seven days, but can be extended to up to six months by the judge. After the seven days, the court will hold a hearing for a final protective order.
- Final protective orders are issued only after a hearing where both parties can present evidence and testimony. Final orders last up to a year, but can be extended, possibly forever, where certain circumstances are met.
How do I apply for a protective order in Maryland?
You can file for a protective order in any district or circuit court in the state. If the clerk’s office is not open, you can file with a District Court commissioner, many of which are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you’re in the midst of a contentious divorce, or are considering initiating a legal separation process, seek out a compassionate and experienced family law attorney to ensure that your safety and interests are protected. For a free consultation on your family law, domestic violence, or divorce needs in our Columbia MD office, contact the Howard County Divorce Lawyers at Coover Law Firm, LLC today at 410-995-1100.
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.
Coover Law Firm, LLC serves Howard County, Maryland in and around Columbia MD, Ellicott City MD, Clarksville MD, Elkridge MD, Glenelg MD, Glenwood MD, Fulton MD, Dayton MD and more.