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Final Protective Orders in Maryland

Citizens of Maryland that request a court to issue a protective order are known as Petitioners as they file a petition with the court asking the court to grant a protective order against someone else. The person who has a protective order filed against them is known as a Respondent.

Rights as a Respondent

Under Maryland Rule § 4-505 a respondent has the right to be heard on the question of whether the judge should issue a final protective order. A hearing will be scheduled in the County the protective order was filed in and the Respondent and Petitioner must be present for the hearing to move forward. At the final protective order hearing, the Respondent can chose to consent to the protective order or contest the protective order. If the Respondent consents than no factual findings will be made by the Court. If the Respondent contests the protective order than there will be a trial.

Contents of temporary protective order

A temporary protective order will state the scheduled date and time of the final protective order hearing. Typically, unless good cause is shown by either party, the final protective order hearing will occur no later than 7 days after the temporary protective order is served on the Respondent.

What happens if a Respondent is served with notice of the final protective hearing and fails to appear? If the respondent fails to appear at the final protective order hearing, the respondent may be served by first-class mail at the respondent’s last known address with the final protective order and all other notices concerning the final protective order specifying all the possible forms of relief that the final protective order may contain. The final protective order shall be effective for the period stated in the order, not to exceed 1 year or, under certain circumstances, 2 years, unless the judge extends the term of the order or the court issues a permanent order under subsection.

Will a final protective order be granted? If the judge finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the alleged abuse has occurred, or if the respondent consents to the entry of a protective order, the judge may grant a final protective order to protect any person eligible for relief from abuse.

What both parties requested a protective order against each other? In cases where both parties file a petition for a protective order, the judge may issue mutual protective orders if the judge finds by a preponderance of the evidence that mutual abuse has occurred. The judge may issue mutual final protective orders only if the judge makes a detailed finding of fact that: (1) both parties acted primarily as aggressors; and (2) neither party acted primarily in self-defense.

What kind of relief does a final protective provide for a petitioner? The final protective order may include any or all of the following relief:

(1) order the respondent to refrain from abusing or threatening to abuse any person eligible for relief;

(2) order the respondent to refrain from contacting, attempting to contact, or harassing any person eligible for relief;

(3) order the respondent to refrain from entering the residence of any person eligible for relief;

(4) where the person eligible for relief and the respondent are residing together at the time of the abuse, order the respondent to vacate the home immediately and award temporary use and possession of the home to the person eligible for relief or, in the case of alleged abuse of a child or alleged abuse of a vulnerable adult, award temporary use and possession of the home to an adult living in the home, provided that the court may not grant an order to vacate and award temporary use and possession of the home to a nonspouse person eligible for relief unless the name of the person eligible for relief appears on the lease or deed to the home or the person eligible for relief has shared the home with the respondent for a period of at least 90 days within 1 year before the filing of the petition;

(5) order the respondent to remain away from the place of employment, school, or temporary residence of a person eligible for relief or home of other family members;

(6) order the respondent to remain away from a child care provider of a person eligible for relief while a child of the person is in the care of the child care provider;

(7) award temporary custody of a minor child of the respondent and a person eligible for relief;

(8) establish temporary visitation with a minor child of the respondent and a person eligible for relief on a basis which gives primary consideration to the welfare of the minor child and the safety of any other person eligible for relief. If the court finds that the safety of a person eligible for relief will be jeopardized by unsupervised or unrestricted visitation, the court shall condition or restrict visitation as to time, place, duration, or supervision, or deny visitation entirely, as needed to guard the safety of any person eligible for relief;

(9) award emergency family maintenance as necessary to support any person eligible for relief to whom the respondent has a duty of support under this article, including an immediate and continuing withholding order on all earnings of the respondent in the amount of the ordered emergency family maintenance;

(10) award temporary use and possession of a vehicle jointly owned by the respondent and a person eligible for relief to the person eligible for relief if necessary for the employment of the person eligible for relief or for the care of a minor child of the respondent or a person eligible for relief;

(11) direct the respondent or any or all of the persons eligible for relief to participate in professionally supervised counseling or a domestic violence program;

(12) order the respondent to pay filing fees and costs of a proceeding under this subtitle;

(13) award temporary possession of any pet of the person eligible for relief or the respondent; or

(14) order any other relief that the judge determines is necessary to protect a person eligible for relief from abuse.

Will I be ordered to surrender my firearms? Yes! The final protective order, if granted, will order that the respondent surrender to law enforcement authorities any firearm in the respondent’s possession, and to refrain from possession of any firearm, for the duration of the protective order.

Return of minor child to custodial parent: If the judge awards temporary custody of a minor child, the judge may order a law enforcement officer to use all reasonable and necessary force to return the minor child to the custodial parent after service of the final protective order.

Will I be ordered to vacate the home I am living in? The Judge will have to consider the following factors before deciding whether or not to order a respondent to vacate the home:

(1) the housing needs of any minor child living in the home;

(2) the duration of the relationship between the respondent and any person eligible for relief;

(3) title to the home;

(4) pendency and type of criminal charges against the respondent;

(5) the history and severity of abuse in the relationship between the respondent and any person eligible for relief;

(6) the existence of alternative housing for the respondent and any person eligible for relief; and

(7) the financial resources of the respondent and the person eligible for relief.

What if the Circuit Court makes a ruling later that contradicts the final protective order? A subsequent circuit court order pertaining to any of the provisions included in the final protective order will supersede those provisions in the final protective order.