Protective Orders

Prior to filing for a claim of domestic violence, there are certain things the victim must do. Once completed, a petition can be filed in court. The petition must be under oath and include:

  • The history of abuse, including previous injuries resulting from the abuse
  • Any previous or pending actions between the spouses
  • The whereabouts of the abuser, if known
  • The financial resources of the abuser, if financial relief is being requested
  • The whereabouts of a child or vulnerable adult in the case of abuse against either

A completed petition can be filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court or District Court or the Court Commissioner if the clerk’s office is closed. Documents can exclude contact information of the person eligible for relief.

There are three types of protective orders:

1. Interim Protective Order

An interim protective order is granted when there is reason to believe that the person eligible for relief has been abused. The interim protective order may order that the abuser:

  • Refrain from further abuse or threats of abuse
  • Refrain from contacting, attempting to contact, or harassing persons eligible for relief
  • Refrain from entering an eligible person’s residence
  • Stay away from an eligible person’s work, school, or temporary residence
  • Remain away from the residence of an eligible person’s family
  • Vacate the home where the eligible person and abuser are living together, award custody and/or temporary use and possession of the home to the victim
  • In cases of child abuse, award temporary custody of the minor child to the eligible person
  • In a case of adult abuse, award temporary use and possession of the home to the adult living in the home

Once an interim protective order is granted, a temporary protective order (TPO) hearing will be held. A petitioner must attend the temporary protective order hearing. If the abuser fails to show up to the hearing, it will continue in his or her absence.

2. Temporary Protective Order (TPO)

A judge will grant a temporary protective order when it is reasonable to believe that abuse has occurred. When granted, a TPO will generally order the abuser to:

  • Refrain from further abuse or threats of abuse
  • Refrain from contacting, attempting to contact, or harassing eligible persons
  • Refrain from entering the residence of an eligible person
  • Remain away from an eligible person’s work, school, or temporary residence
  • Remain away from a child care provider who is taking care of an eligible person’s child
  • Vacate the home where the abuser and the person eligible for relief are living together. If the abuse is against a child or vulnerable adult, use and possession will be given to an adult in the home. If the abuse is toward a nonspouse, a vacate and use and possession order will be granted to him or her if his or her name is on the lease or deed, or if he or she has lived in the home with the abuser for at least 90 days during the last year.

Finally the person eligible for relief is awarded temporary custody of minor children (this does not apply to step-children or children of either person’s prior relationships).

A TPO lasts no more than 7 days, when a final protective order hearing is held.

3. Final Protective Order

A final protective order hearing determines whether a petitioner is eligible for protection from the alleged abuser for generally up to twelve months or, in certain instances, up to eighteen months.

The hearing can only occur after the alleged abuser has received notice of the hearing and the possibility of a protective order being placed against him or her.

During the hearing, convincing a court to issue a final protective order can be difficult because of the high level of proof required, but it is not impossible.

The final protective order provides:

Injunctive relief

The abuser must:

  • Refrain from further abuse or threat of abuse
  • Refrain from contacting, attempting to contact, or harassing persons eligible for relief
  • Refrain from entering the residence of a person eligible for relief
  • Stay away from work, school, or temporary residence of a person eligible for relief, or other family members’ homes
  • Stay away from a childcare provider of the person eligible for relief when the child is in the care of the childcare provider
  • Vacate the home for up to one year and award use and possession of the home to the petitioner. A cohabitant can only receive a vacate and a use and possession order if their name is on the lease or deed or he or she has resided in the home for at least 90 days during the past year.

Child custody, support, and visitation

  • Temporary custody of minor children is decided
  • Visitation is based on the welfare of the children and the safety of the person eligible for relief
  • Temporary “emergency family maintenance” is awarded to the spouse and/or children, including an earnings withholding order

Miscellaneous Relief

This can include:

  • Temporary use and possession of a jointly owned vehicle
  • Counseling for the eligible person or the abuser
  • The surrender of any firearms in the abuser’s possession
  • An order that the abuser pays all filing fees and costs

Failure to comply with any type of protective order can result in criminal prosecution, imprisonment, and/or a fine. To avoid criminal charges, modifications can be made so it’s easier to follow the protective order.

To learn more about how we can help you with your particular situation, please email or call us today at (301) 715-3838 to set up your FREE consultation.