Domestic Violence Laws Continue to Strengthen

In recent years, my former colleagues in the Maryland General Assembly have continued to strengthen laws to protect against Domestic Violence. On October 1, 2009, a new law went into effect.

It requires the court to order any person who commits an act of Domestic Violence or voluntarily consents to a protective order without a finding that an act of abuse has occurred, to surrender any firearms.

Before a protective order can be granted in a Domestic Violence case, there are a series of issues that must be analyzed.

The law requires any person who commits an act of Domestic Violence, or voluntarily consents to a protective order, to surrender any firearms.

First, the parties must have a relationship that makes one them a “a person eligible for relief”. Next, an act or acts must have been committed that meet the statutory definition of abuse. Finally, the act or acts must be proven, initially in a preliminary hearing by a preponderance of the evidence and then in a final hearing by “clear and convincing evidence”.

Domestic Violence can have very serious consequences. The best solution is to avoid its occurrence. Not everyone can afford an attorney and volunteer assistance is often available. If possible however, the assistance of an experienced family law attorney should be considered. This advice would also include an evaluation of how Domestic Violence might impact other issues such as child custody, child support, possession of the family home or property and other matters that arise in a separation or divorce.

Situations involving Domestic Violence evolve quickly and therefore time is of the essence in obtaining the assistance of a lawyer.