Options for Domestic Violence Victims

Domestic violence is a major problem in Maryland and throughout the United States. Moreover, it is frequently an issue during divorce, custody and other family law disputes. It is crucial that victims of domestic violence or threats of violence have access to prompt legal protection. That is why Maryland law allows victims of domestic violence to secure protective orders — specialized injunctions that prohibit contact between the abuser and the abused — promptly through an expedited process.

In addition to physical abuse, domestic violence also includes other non-physical degrading or controlling behaviors. If subjected to this behavior, any of the following people can seek a protective order in court:

  • Current or former spouses
  • Boyfriends or girlfriends who lived with the abuser for at least 90 days within the last year
  • Relatives by blood, marriage or adoption
  • Physically or mentally disabled adults
  • A person who has a child with the abuser

The process begins by filing a petition for protection from domestic violence in a Maryland court. In order to expedite the process and provide immediate protection, the court may grant a temporary protective order immediately without providing notice to the alleged abuser. However, the order is not effective until served upon the abuser. After notice and a hearing — usually about a week after filing — the court may grant a final protective order for up to six months or even a permanent protective order for up to two years.

If you have been subjected to domestic violence by your spouse, getting a protective order is an essential first step to protecting yourself and your children. That said, a divorce will likely be necessary to permanently remove yourself from the situation. A Maryland divorce attorney can help you begin the process immediately without the need for any waiting period.

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