Monthly Archives: September 2021

Safety From Abusive Spouses or Persons: Protective and Peace Orders in Maryland

A person who has been the victim of harm by another and fears future harm can turn to the Maryland court system for protection. By filing for a Protective Order or a Peace Order, depending upon the relationship between the petitioner and the respondent, the victim can receive immediate, temporary, and long-term legal help in avoiding harm.

Protective vs. Peace Orders

Protective Orders are used in the context of family law matters, as they provide relief within familial and other close relationships in which the parties have an intimate relationship and may also have children together.

Peace Orders apply to non-familial relationships and therefore differ in certain aspects of recourse, due in part to the lack of common property or offspring between victim and respondent.


Who Can Apply for a Protective Order?

Protective Orders can be requested by current or formers spouses, relatives by blood or adoption, and people who have lived together for at least 90 days in the last year. People can also request protective orders for someone they have a child with, have had sexual relations within the last year, or who allegedly raped or sexually offended them in the last six months. 

If the petitioner is not a person eligible for relief under a Protective Order, he or she may seek a Peace Order.   


What Do I Need to Prove to the Judge?

A court will issue a Protective Order for a petitioner who can show that the respondent has caused serious bodily harm, fear of imminent serious bodily harm, assault, rape or other sexual offense, false imprisonment, or stalking.


How Soon Can I Get Protection?

In the event that a party needs protection immediately and the courthouse is not open at such time, an “Interim Protective Order” may be applied for with the Commissioner of the District Court. If granted, the Interim Protective Order will remain in effect until the end of the second business day after its issuance, or at a hearing for a “Temporary Protective Order”—whichever is sooner.

A Temporary Protective Order is sought for immediate protection during court business hours, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m., and will remain in effect for no more than seven business days after law enforcement has given the respondent a copy of the order.

A “Final Protective Order” offers a petitioner protection for up to a full year following a hearing.


What Can A Judge Mandate?

The District or Circuit Court judge will seek to protect the petitioner who shows, through a “preponderance of the evidence,” that they are at risk of harm. A lawyer can help a petitioner meet this legal standard of proof, and it is important for a victim of abuse to collect and present relevant police reports, hospital records, photographs, voice recordings, witness testimony, etc. which evidence the harm. A judge can order one or more of the following:

  • To cease the abuse and/or threat of abuse
  • To remain a specified distance away from the petitioner
  • To leave or refrain from approaching even a shared home, property, or vehicle
  • To refrain from approaching a workplace, school, children’s school, or child care location
  • To avoid contact with children and deny the abuser visitation rights
  • To avoid proximity with any pets, shared or otherwise
  • If the parties are married, the court can order the perpetrator to pay support to the petitioner and any mutual children
  • To cease all contact with the petitioner, excepting family law or financial obligations if the court deems appropriate
  • To participate in a counseling program such as a domestic violence, drug or alcohol addiction program
  • To turn in any firearm in his or her possession


What if the Relationship Does Not Qualify for a Protective Order?

In the event that you have not had the requisite familial or intimate relationship with your abuser, you can still be protected from harm by a Peace Order. Peace Orders include recourse for criminal trespass and malicious destruction of property. It is important to note that while Protective Orders can be granted any time after the violative act, Peace Orders must be granted within 30 days of the harm. 

Since your and your family’s personal safety are of paramount importance, taking the necessary steps to file and prove the need for protection is critical. The team at TNS Family Law will aid you in this process and help you secure the necessary legal safeguards from danger.


If you have questions about protective and peace orders, please contact Turnbull, Nicholson & Sanders, P.A. at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of family law attorneys is here to help guide you.


Related Posts:     
Divorcing During the Pandemic: Mediation
5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your Divorce Attorney
What Are the Grounds For Absolute Divorce in Maryland?
Maryland Divorce FAQs

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