Domestic Violence Protective Order Maryland
Family Law 4-506(c)(ii) provides that a court may grant a protective order to any person eligible for relief from abuse if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the alleged abuse has occurred.
Section 4-501 states that abuse means:
(i) an act that causes serious bodily harm;
(ii) an act that places a person eligible for relief in fear of imminent serious bodily harm;
(iii) assault in any degree;
(iv) rape or sexual offense as defined by Art. 27, 462 through 464C of the Code or attempted rape or sexual offense in any degree; or (iv) false imprisonment." We are concerned only with (ii), as that is the finding made by the circuit court as the sole basis for the protective order.
Victims of domestic violence are not limited to a particular age or gender, but such violence is a particular threat to women. See Philip C. Crosby, Custody of Vaughn: Emphasizing the Importance of Domestic Violence in Child Custody Cases, 77 B.U.L. Rev. 483, 483 (1997).
Women are "more likely to be assaulted and injured, raped, or killed by a current or ex-partner than by all other types of assailants combined." Id. (citing Council on Scientific Affairs, Am. Med. Ass'n, Violence Against Women: Relevance for Medical Practitioners, 267 JAMA 3184, 3185 (1992)).
Domestic violence also has a grave impact on children in our country, with between 3.3 to 10 million children witnessing domestic violence each year. See Marlene Rapkin, Note: the Impact of Domestic Violence on Child Custody Decisions, 19 J. Juv. L. 404, 404 (1998) (citing Domestic Violence Statistics, PAC. BUS. NEWS, Nov. 17, 1997, available in 1997 WL 15021813).
Studies have shown that children from homes in which domestic violence occurs are more likely to experience a variety of other problems, including substance abuse, gang activities, eating disorders, nightmares, peer and school related difficulties, and suicidal tendencies. Id. (citing Domestic Violence Statistics, PAC. BUS. NEWS, Nov. 17, 1997, available in 1997 WL 15021814).
Maryland enacted the Domestic Violence Act in 1980 by Chapter 887 of the Acts of 1980. It has been codified as part of the Family Law Article since 1984. Kaufman v. Motley, 119 Md. App. 623, 624 n.1, 705 A.2d 330 (1998). As discussed in Kaufman, the purpose of the Domestic Violence Act is to provide immediate protection:
That the Act was designed to aid victims of domestic abuse by providing an immediate and effective nonmonetary remedy is readily apparent.
To this end the legislature empowered courts to order that ... specified protective devices be implemented, all to protect the victims' immediate and future safety.119 Md. App. at 630-31 (quoting Barbee v. Barbee, 311 Md. 620, 623, 537 A.2d 224 (1988)).
Because of the widespread occurrence of domestic violence and the frequent catastrophic effect, preventive measures to halt the occurrence of further violence are to be applauded.
for those same reasons, allegations of domestic violence are very serious, and the issuance of a protective order normally carries with it grave consequences for the perpetrator. If a protective order is issued without a sufficient legal basis, those consequences frequently cannot be erased.
In that situation, the alleged perpetrator may suffer unfairly from the direct consequences of the order itself, which may include removal from his or her home, temporary loss of custody of his or her children, or temporary loss of a family car. See F.L. 4-506. the alleged perpetrator may also suffer from the social stigma that attaches to the order.