Read this before you consent to the entry of a protective order!

It is not uncommon for people in domestic relationships to have at least one occasion of some sort of alleged abuse. This abuse can be physical, mental, financial, or other. If you believe you are the victim of domestic violence, it is important that you seek help from a professional who is familiar with the cycle of violence, and that you work with that person develop a safety plan in case you need to escape immediately.

When people are involved in relationships where there is partner to partner violence, the usual recourse is to seek a protective order from the court in the county in which the abuse occurred. The State of Maryland recently changed the law regarding protective orders to make it easier for victims of abuse to get a protective order.

The first thing that will happen is the alleged victim will go to either the Commissioner, or a Judge to seek a Temporary Order of Protection. If it is believed that the person is in fact a victim of domestic violence, the temporary order will be issued. A temporary order will only be in effect for a very short time, usually seven (7) days. After that, a court date will be issued, the alleged perpetrator will be served with the temporary order, and you will need to appear at the next court date.

People make the mistake of not appearing at the next court date, or appearing without an attorney. This can have drastic results, including the possible entry of an Interim or even a Final Protective Order against you, if you are the alleged perpetrator. If you are the alleged victim and you fail to appear for the court date, chances are, your case will be dismissed.

How does all of this tie in to the consent of an entry of an order? Well, when the parties to a protective order have children in common, and subsequently are trying to obtain custody or a modification of a previous custody award, the court is asked to consider the best interest of the children.

The court uses a list of factors when determining the child’s best interest–one of which is the “character and reputation of the parties.” If an alleged victim is seeking custody and claiming that the other party is abusive, it can reflect negatively on the alleged victim if they previously accused the other parent of domestic violence and then chose not to pursue it. It can also reflect negatively on the alleged perpetrator if they consented to the entry of a protective order or were found by the court to have committed domestic violence.

People consent to the entry of protective orders for various reasons. Some because they do not want the cost, burden, and hassle of a trial. Others, because they believe it is likely that they will be found to have committed the abuse.

Whatever the reason, there can be long term effects of that decision. If your job requires you to carry a weapon and you consent to the entry of a protective order, it may cost you your job. Therefore, before you make such a decision, be sure to seek the advice of a knowledgeable family law attorney who can explain to you your rights.

If you believe you are the victim of domestic violence, there is help available to you. The Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence and the House of Ruth are two of the organizations that can assist you. The links to their respective websites can be found below.

Always be safe!