Protective orders in Maryland and how they work

People looking to separate themselves from an abusive domestic situation should know what is involved in filing for a protective order in Maryland.

It is not uncommon for people in Maryland to seek to be separated from certain individuals who they consider to be a threat to their safety. Whether it is being stalked by someone, coming under threat or even wanting to protect a child after a divorce, there are a number of events that could lead to wanting a separation to be enforced. Some states have documents called restraining orders, while in Maryland there are two kinds of documents: protective orders and peace orders. A peace order will apply to those outside of a family, such as a co-worker or other acquaintance, while protective orders specifically apply to domestic cases.

What effect does a protective order have?

A protective order lays out certain conditions that are to be approved by the court. Once these conditions have been approved and an order has been signed by the requisite parties, the penalty for violating the conditions stipulated in the order is to be placed under arrest by law enforcement. A protection order does not necessarily include surveillance or a police escort, so while one of these documents can discourage the offending party from violating the conditions therein, the ultimate effect it has is to guarantee the arrest of whoever violates the order. For this reason, the decision to restrict through a protective order may be a matter that families want to carefully consider before going all the way through with it.

What is involved in obtaining a protective order?

Those who do want to go through with filling out a protective order and bringing it before the court will need to be prepared with a lot of different and detailed information in order to fill out the form completely. The form that is filled out and brought to court is known as a petition for protective order. Upon evaluating one of these petitions, the court will then decide whether it can go through or not. The one filling out the form is called the "Petitioner" and the one on the receiving end is the "Respondent." The Respondent must be served and brought to court, and from there the order can be agreed upon and put into legally binding effect.

The Petitioner can ask for the court to grant custody of a child or children. Certain locations can be specified where the Respondent is not allowed to go, including schools and childcare facilities. It can be helpful when filling out the petition to have a record of past and present court cases involving the Petitioner and Respondent. The form also includes a section where the Petitioner can describe abuse suffered at the hands of the Respondent, and there is room to go into detail.

A Maryland resident who wants to fill out a petition for a protective order may want to make the best possible case for its necessity, while someone who has found his or herself on the receiving end of one may want to provide the best possible defense to the court. An attorney in the local area who practices family law may be able to provide assistance in either case.