How Can Domestic Violence Victims Request Protective Orders In Maryland?
Maryland family law provides numerous considerations and protections for domestic violence victims. When a person suffers actual or attempted abuse at the hands of a relative, it is possible to request a protective order from the Maryland courts. These orders allow the state courts to intervene on behalf of a victim and, ideally, safeguard the victim from further abuse.
Who is Eligible to Request a Protective Order?
There are essentially three different requirements for protective orders under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 4-501.
First, the victim must suffer an act of abuse. Under Section 4-501, protective orders are available in response to any of the following acts of abuse:
- Any act that results in serious bodily harm;
- Any act that creates a reasonable fear of imminent and serious bodily harm;
- Assault in the first or second degree;
- Rape or attempted rape;
- Sexual offense or attempted sexual offense;
- False imprisonment;
- Revenge porn; or
- Abuse of a minor child or vulnerable adult.
Second, the victim and the alleged abuser generally must have some kind of relationship. Under Section 4-501, protective orders are available if the alleged victim is/was:
- Current or former spouse of the abuser;
- Cohabitant of the abuser;
- Relative by blood, marriage, or adoption of the abuser;
- Parent, stepparent, child, or stepchild of the abuser;
- Co-parent to a common child with the abuser;
- Romantically involved with the abuser in the past 12 months;
- Subjected to an actual or attempted sex crime at the hands of the abuser; or
- A vulnerable adult.
What is the Process for Requesting a Protective Order?
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 4-504 establishes the process for requesting a protective order. Assuming a domestic violence victim is eligible as outlined above, they can file a petition for a protective order with the Maryland courts if:
- The abuse allegedly occurred within Maryland; or
- The victim is a resident of Maryland, regardless of where the abuse allegedly occurred.
Section 4-501 also details the required contents of a petition for a protective order. In order to be valid, such a petition must be made under oath and should include as much of the following information as possible:
- The nature and extent of the present abuse, including any information known about past abuses by the same actor;
- Previous legal action between the victim and alleged abuser, if any;
- Pending legal action between the victim and alleged abuser, if any;
- Whereabouts of the alleged abuser, if known;
- Information about the alleged abuser’s financial resources, if financial relief is requested; and
- Whereabouts of the minor child or vulnerable adult, if the victim is alleged to be a minor child or vulnerable adult.
What is the Cost for Requesting a Protective Order?
Section 4-504 also explains the cost for requesting or obtaining a protective order. This section clarifies that domestic violence victims are not responsible for the filing fees, issuance costs, or service of process fees related to:
- Interim protective orders;
- Temporary protective orders;
- Final protective orders; or
- Witness subpoenas connected to any order above.
Contact an Attorney for Help
If you need legal assistance with protective orders for domestic violence in Maryland, it can be highly worthwhile to consult with a trusted family law attorney. Don’t hesitate to contact the skilled Bel Air domestic violence attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered for help.