As a Maryland lawyer experienced in Domestic Violence cases and a former member of the Maryland General Assembly, I have witnessed the strengthening of our state’s Domestic Violence laws. The District Courts are open 24 hours a day to accept petitions for protective orders and conduct ex parte hearings.
At an ex parte hearing, if a court finds reasonable grounds to believe that abuse of a person eligible for relief under Section 4-501 Family Law Article has occurred, the Court may enter a temporary order for seven days that can be extended up to six months in those instances in which service of process on respondent is delayed. Such an order may prohibit the respondent from abusing, threatening to abuse, contacting, attempting to contact or harassing the petitioner; prohibit the defendant from entering the petitioner’s residence and award custody of any minor children.This temporary order is intended to protect the petitioner until a hearing can be held on a final protective order.
“ Maryland District Courts are open 24 hours a day to accept petitions for protective orders and conduct ex parte hearings.
At a hearing on the final protective order, both parties are allowed to present evidence. A permanent order can only be granted if there is clear and convincing evidence that abuse as defined by Section 4-501 Family Law Article has occurred.
A permanent order in most instances is limited to one year. It can award the same relief enumerated above for the temporary order plus family maintenance that can be enforced by withholding of salary. The court can also make provisions for visitation subject to consideration of the welfare of the child and the safety of the protected party.
The outcome of a Domestic Violence proceeding can be profound. Every effort should be made to avoid being either a victim or an accused. While the parties may be represented by an attorney, no one is required to be represented in these cases. Pro bono assistance may be available. However, the outcome of such a dispute can have profound effects on enumerable matters between the parties.
An experienced family law attorney can provide advice on the possible impact on other issues such as child custody, child or spousal support, possession of the family home or property, disposition of property and other matters that arise in a separation or divorce. Domestic Violence cases typically move quickly. Time is of the essence in conferring with a lawyer.