Protective Orders are civil court orders that are designed to prevent your spouse from committing certain acts against you. If you can prove that you are a victim of domestic violence by your spouse, you could obtain a Final Protective Order for up to one (1) year. A Final Protective Order could require your spouse to stop abusing you, contacting you, to be removed and/or stay out of your marital residence, stay away from your place of employment, grant you temporary custody of your child(ren), grant you the use and possession of a family car, remove firearms, and provide you with financial relief in form of Emergency Family Maintenance. In Maryland a Petition for Protective Order can filed in the District Court, Circuit Court, or the District Court Commissioner’s Office, which are open 24 hours a day/7 days a week.
Please keep in mind that the entry of a Final Protective Order could significantly affect the outcome of a potential upcoming divorce and/or custody case and you should be well represented at your protective order hearing to protect your rights and interests to the extent possible. For example, although the entry of a Final Protective Order will be based on existence or lack of violence or threat of violence, it will naturally affect your access to your minor children without having the benefit of a trial that would closely examine the elements that will be decided at a custody hearing. And by the time you have a custody hearing months after your protective order hearing, having access or lack of access to your children from the entry of protective order until the custody hearing, a status quo regarding the children residence with you or your spouse may be established that will be difficult to overcome at the custody hearing. Furthermore, if a protective order requires you to vacate the marital home, you will not have access to many much needed documents, computers, and other items that you will need access to prepare for trial and substantial amount of time, energy, and funds have to be expended to reacquire those items, if at all possible.