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Emergency Custody Orders For Maryland Domestic Violence


In cases of domestic violence or child abuse, the Maryland courts may issue an emergency custody order. These emergency orders are reserved for extraordinary situations, usually to prevent abuse or threats of abuse. Depending on the circumstances, emergency custody orders can be temporary or permanent. But before progressing any further, it will be helpful to review the statutory definition of abuse under Maryland law.

Maryland Definition of Abuse

Maryland Code of Family Section 4-501 defines what qualifies as abuse. This term can refer to:

  • Any act that results in serious bodily harm;
  • Any act that threatens a person with imminent and serious bodily harm;
  • Abuse of a child or vulnerable adult
  • Assault in the first degree;
  • Assault in the second degree;
  • Attempted rape in the first degree;
  • Attempted rape in the second degree;
  • False imprisonment;
  • Rape in the first degree;
  • Rape in the second degree;
  • Revenge porn;
  • Sexual offense in the third degree;
  • Sexual offense in the fourth degree; or
  • Stalking.

Maryland Requirements for Emergency Custody Orders

Maryland Code of Family Section 9.5-204 governs the requirements for emergency custody orders. This section provides the Maryland state courts with temporary jurisdiction to issue an emergency custody order if:

  • The child in question is present in Maryland; and
  • The child was abandoned; or
  • The child, or their parent or sibling, experienced mistreatment or abuse or was threatened with mistreatment or abuse.

Maryland Considerations for Emergency Custody Orders

Section 9.5-204 also supplies several procedural considerations for emergency custody orders. Effectively, the duration of an emergency custody order can change based on the presence of a child custody determination. These determinations refer to court orders and similar mechanisms that grant child custody or visitation rights.

If a child is subject to an existing custody determination, emergency custody orders must have a defined time limit. This way, the Maryland courts can intervene and, ideally, prevent further abuse or mistreatment. And the time limit allows the courts to evaluate the previous determination in the context of the child’s best interests.

If a child is not subject to an existing custody determination, however, emergency custody orders do not always have a time limit. Instead, the emergency order can stay in place until there is another court order that relates to custody rights. And in specific cases involving children living in Maryland, an emergency custody order can even become permanent.

For emergency custody orders involving out-of-state children, the Maryland courts must communicate immediately with any other court to:

  • Reconcile the emergency situation;
  • Safeguard the child and any other parties; and
  • Figure out an appropriate time limit for the emergency order.

Do You Need Legal Help?

For help from a skilled Bel Air domestic violence lawyer, reach out to Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered. We are eager to assist you today.

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