Domestic Violence: Your Lawyer Can Help

One strategy used by Maryland divorce lawyers is to remove a spouse from the marital residence through the use of a domestic violence order.

The purpose of a domestic violence order is to prevent future violence to the battered spouse. A final order can remain in effect up to twelve months.

There are a number of benefits available to you through the obtaining of a domestic violence order. A domestic violent order often offers you a first opportunity to obtain legal benefits, including but not limited to exclusive use and possession of the marital residence. Establishing child custody and Family Maintenance (equivalent to child support), obtaining use and possession of a vehicle even if it is titled in the other spouse’s name, ordering anger management training for the abuser and other types of counseling are a number of benefits inherent in obtaining a domestic violence order.

Domestic violence is a civil matter and yet there are criminal laws governing assault, battery, harassment, telephone misuse and other crimes which are applicable to the behaviors of abusive spouses and which can lead to a conviction of criminal charges. An abused party may file a petition seeking a protective domestic violence order. The party who is abused can also file many different criminal charges against the abuser such as assault, harassment, stalking, and other intentional crimes.

Anger is at the root of domestic violence. An experienced divorce lawyer can effectively obtain testimony from an abusive spouse or partner, through direct or cross examination, that will prove that the abusive spouse is committing domestic violence.

The petition for domestic violence is available from the clerks at the circuit and district courts in each Maryland county. (See also http://www.courts.state.md.us/family/forms/index.html)

Do not complete the form without the assistance of a divorce attorney. Here are a few of the pitfalls of completing the petition on your own:

  1. The experience of being abused causes most individuals to be very upset and hurt. Completing the Petition for Protection from Domestic Violence on your own, without the support and assistance of an attorney, may cause you to make mistakes. For example, your description of what occurred may be inconsistent with the facts and may then result in a loss of your credibility (believability) in court.
  2. At trial, if you have given the wrong dates of the most recent abusive event or have inaccurately described dates and facts in the Petition, the result will often be a loss of the case.
  3. Successfully establishing the burden of proof, which must be ” Clear and Convincing Evidence”, requires adequate organization and preparation and should be managed by an attorney.
  4. Terms used in court such as, for example, ” imminent fear of bodily harm”, often have special meanings and they require an attorney’s correct interpretation and application so that when you are in court, you have a chance of succeeding.
  5. Preparing your witnesses and subpoenaing them to court is very important.
  6. Subpoenaing the police officer is often vital. An attorney should know that when a temporary order is granted you must immediately subpoena the officer and that you must give the police department five business days to subpoena the police officer. Weekends are not counted in the 5-day notice requirement.

In the ideal world, it is beneficial to contact our offices to have a domestic violence attorney discuss your case with you before you call the police. However, as a practical matter, because of necessity you may have to call the police immediately. Try to remain calm and provide the officers with specific and accurate facts of the incident.

Often the best strategy is just to get out of the house or away from the abuser until there is time to speak with us.

Fredric G. Antenberg is a Maryland divorce attorney located in Columbia, Maryland, who has, over the years, successfully tried domestic violence cases in Howard County and in surrounding counties.

Call me before filing a Petition for Protection from Domestic Violence at 410 730 4404.