The Maryland House recently passed a bill changing the way evidence of domestic violence can be used in divorce proceedings. Prior to passing the bill, Maryland’s Family Law prevented domestic violence decisions, including protective orders, from being admissible in divorce court.
Originally, Maryland Judges had access to information about a history of abuse within a marriage, but could not specifically use protective orders as evidence. A member of the Council for the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault called the current Maryland law before the bill, “an unnecessary restriction” limiting the court from considering the entire circumstances of an individual and their family.
Requirements for a Protective Order
To obtain a protective order, the victim must either be a spouse of the abuser; be living with or had a sexual relationship with the abuser for at least 90 days within 12 months before filing; or be related by blood, marriage, or adoption. Stepparents, stepchildren, or a parent of a child with the abuser are also eligible to file.
Conditions that warrant an order of protection in Maryland include: stalking; false imprisonment; assault; rape; mental injury to a minor; and any behavior that threatens or causes bodily harm. Those who do not meet the criteria for a protective order, but believe they are in danger, are advised to seek the assistance of a skilled domestic violence lawyer to assist in filing for another legal protection called a peace order.
An individual seeking an order of protection in Maryland must first file a Petition with the District or Circuit Court. Petitioners have the “burden of proof” when filing for a protective order. The victim must demonstrate why they are seeking relief by providing medical records, photos, audio recordings, and/or police reports. A Maryland Commissioner or Judge will then order certain reliefs which vary from case to case. Most commonly, the abuser is ordered to stop harassing, abusing, or threatening the subject and must stay away from the subject’s home, business, or other frequently visited places. Orders are typically issued for one year, but can be extended permanently in some cases.
Protective Orders and Divorce
Protective orders are granted in severe cases of abuse. They are admissible in matters of visitation and custody, so it seems logical that they be allowed in divorce court. Protective orders help victims meet some of Maryland’s conditions for divorce – cruelty or excessively vicious conduct. By allowing them as evidence, the bill further protects domestic violence victims at what is perhaps the most dangerous time of their lives – the point where they leave their abusive partner for good.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Seek Protection for Domestic Violence Victims
Maryland Law is specific about the evidence needed to obtain a protective order. When the safety of you and your family is in jeopardy, it is crucial to file for an order quickly and correctly. Towson divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC take matters of domestic violence very seriously and will fight for your safety. We understand how protective orders are used in Maryland divorce court and will lead you through the entire process, always working for the best resolution possible for you. Call our offices at 443-589-0150 or contact us online.
We serve clients in and around Hunt Valley, Cockeysville, Lutherville, Timonium, Upper Falls, Phoenix, Pikesville, Riderwood, Sparks Glencoe, Towson, Brooklandville, Butler, Stevenson, Glyndon, Monkton, Reisterstown, Pikesville, Owings Mills, Parkville, Boring, Glen Arm, Baldwin, Upperco, Hydes, and Baltimore County.