Am I eligible for a protective order? Who can file the petition?
You can be eligible for a protective order if you or your minor child has been the victim of abuse by:
- your current or former spouse;1
- someone with whom you had a sexual relationship and with whom you lived for at least 90 days during the one-year period before you filed for the protective order (known as a “cohabitant”);2
- someone with whom you had a sexual relationship at some point in the one-year period before the filing of the petition (even if you never lived together);
- someone related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption;
- someone with whom you have a child in common; or
- someone who you allege committed rape or a sexual offense against you within six months prior to filing the petition (go to Selected Maryland Statutes, and read sections 3-303 through 3-308 for the definitions)..
Note: A parent, step-parent, child, or step-child of you or the abuser can file for an order if s/he lived with you or the abuser for at least 90 days during the one-year period before filing for the order.1
A “vulnerable adult,”1 which is an adult who lacks the physical or mental capacity to provide for his/her daily needs, can file for an order against any person (regardless of their relationship) who caused him/her physical injury as the result of cruel treatment or a malicious act.3
Any of the following people can file for a protective order for a minor child or vulnerable adult:
- the minor or vulnerable adult himself/herself;
- a person related to the child or vulnerable adult by blood, marriage or adoption;
- an adult who lives with the child or vulnerable adult;
- the state attorney (a lawyer working for the government) for the county where the child or vulnerable adult lives or where the abuse took place; or
- the Department of Social Services in the county where the child or vulnerable adult lives or where the abuse took place.4
Note: If you are not eligible for a protective order, but you have been the victim of abuse and need protection, you may be eligible to file for a peace order.
1 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-501(m)
2 MD Code, Fam. Law §§ 4-501(m); 4-501(d)
3 MD Code, Fam. Law § 14-101(b),(q)
4 MD Code Family Law § 4-501(o)