Obtaining an Order of Protection
According to the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, there were more than 15,000 domestic violence related crimes committed in 2015 alone. This included 46 deaths. Sadly, many people feel that they have no options when they are in an abusive relationship. They quietly suffer, worrying that they would not be able to afford to leave or that they would be unable to start over again if they left the abuser. When children are involved, this fear is amplified.
The law does, however, provide options for victims of domestic abuse. One of the first options is an order of protection. A Glen Burnie family law attorney can help you decide if an “OP” is right for your situation.
What is an Order of Protection?
An order of protection is a court order that sets legal boundaries for an alleged abuser. These orders come in three varieties: interim, temporary, or permanent.
Interim Protective Orders: These are emergency orders that you can obtain from your local District Court Commissioner. Offices are available throughout the state, and there should be someone available 24/7.
Temporary Protective Orders: Sometimes you need a protective order in an emergency. You do not need to give notice to your abuser. You simply make your petition and present it to the appropriate division of the local court. The court will inquire as to the circumstances and why you feel you require a protective order. If compelled, the court will enter the order but will also set the matter for a full hearing on a permanent protective order later. At this time, the accused abuser will have to receive notice. The true benefit of a “TPO” is that it buys you time to get yourself and your children to safety and it puts in place a host of legal requirements.
Permanent Protective Orders: Upon hearing the matter and giving the accused abuser due notice, a court can convert a temporary order into a permanent one. This can be especially helpful for victims of domestic violence who are in the middle of a divorce or fleeing an abusive relationship.
Protections Offered By a Protective Order
There are plenty of people who believe a protective order is nothing more than a piece of paper and that it will make things worse. In truth, this is rarely the case. Even a temporary protective order provides significant protections. These can include the following:
- Order the abuser to not have contact with you
- Order the abuser to stay out of any home or location where you have sought refuge
- Order the abuser not to contact other individuals (such as your family or friends)
- Order the abuser to stay away from your children or your place of employment
- Force the abuser to move out of a shared home, giving you temporary possession
- Give you temporary sole custody of children
- Offer temporary child support orders
- Force the abuser to surrender firearms to law enforcement
Even without a protective order, you can always ask law enforcement to assist you in gathering personal belongings, medical devices or prescriptions, and other necessities for you and your children, in the event these are stored in a shared domicile with an abuser.
How a Lawyer Can Help
Often, victims are so terrified and emotionally distraught that they fail to properly advocate for themselves. Most domestic abusers gain a lot of power from bullying and intimidating someone they view as weaker. Once the legal system is invoked and they begin to realize the severity of their actions, the vast majority of abusers back down. Obviously there are exceptions, but an attorney can help to ensure that your petition for a protective order is properly approved, including any court ordered temporary child support or financial maintenance (alimony) that may be due. This can make a big difference in giving you the confidence to break free.
Call the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. in Maryland today for more information or to schedule a completely confidential consultation.