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Maryland Family Law Lawyer


Maryland Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a violent confrontation between household members involving physical harm or sexual assault. It can be between spouses, former spouses, those in or formerly in a dating relationship, adults related by blood and those who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship. Domestic violence, beyond just being physically abusive, is also psychological. The batterer uses acts of violence and a series of behaviors including intimidation, threats, psychological abuse and isolation to coerce and control the other person.

Under Maryland law, the following crimes will be considered domestic violence:

  • assault
  • child abuse
  • rape and other sex crimes
  • false imprisonment
  • stalking
  • causing serious bodily harm
  • or placing the victim in imminent fear of serious bodily harm

A law enforcement officer may arrest a person suspected of domestic violence without a warrant but it must have been reported to the police within 48 hours and there must be evidence the victim was injured. The officer can also make an arrest without a warrant if he or she believes that the person has violated a protective order. A protective order, or restraining order, is a court order requiring one person to not contact and stay away from another person.

After an initial hearing, whether the respondent attends or not, the court can issue a temporary protective order if it finds reasonable grounds to believe a family or household member has been abused. The order can prohibit the respondent from:

  • abusing, threatening or contacting the petitioner;
  • coming to the petitioner’s residence, workplace, school or child care provider;
  • exclude the respondent from the petitioner’s residence, including a shared home;
  • and prohibit the respondent from possessing any firearms and order the respondent to surrender any firearms if the respondent used or threatened to use it

Usually, the respondent must have the opportunity to appear in court and be heard by the judge after 7 days of a temporary protective order. However, a final order can be issued regardless, which will be in effect for one year.

Punishment for domestic violence varies greatly in the state of Maryland. Violating a protective order is a misdemeanor. The first offense is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Second and subsequent offenses are punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. It is also contempt of court to violate a temporary or final protective order, punishable by a fine or imprisonment. If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence or served with a petition for a protective order, contact an experienced Maryland family law lawyer who can guide you through the process.

Ethnicity & Immigration

Research shows that women of color, especially African-American, Hispanic, Latina and Native women experience more violence than other women, but domestic violence can affect people regardless of ethnicity. When victims of domestic violence are not born in the U.S., it can create many barriers for them. Immigration status can be used by an abuser to control and instill fear in victims. Cultural differences and language barriers can also keep the victim from getting help. Victims may also be afraid to tell anyone in their community about the abuse because they are ashamed, embarrassed or they may blame themselves for the abuse.

Fortunately, immigrant victims of domestic violence may be eligible for certain types of immigration relief including U and T visas, VAWA self-petitions, VAWA cancellations of removal, and gender based asylum. This would allow these victims to apply for citizenship status, independent of their abusers.

If you or someone you know is an immigrant and in a domestic violence relationship, contact an experienced attorney to get help. Despite ethnic and language barriers, culture can be used as a tool of strength and healing for victims. There are several organizations that provide information and it varies state by state and case by case so make sure to call a Maryland family law lawyer.

Domestic Violence & Child Custody

Thousands of domestic violence cases are reported each year in the state of Maryland, but there are also many that are not, often involving children. Domestic violence and divorce cases when children are involved make for much more complications than regular divorce cases. Make sure to contact an experienced attorney who can help with your case specifically.

Maryland law defines domestic violence as abuse against another parent, spouse or a child in the parent’s household with acts such as causing serious bodily harm, threatening to cause serious bodily harm, assault, sexual crimes, false imprisonment or stalking. If you or your child has been a victim of an assault, call 911 immediately and then seek a lawyer for representation.

The court won’t prefer one parent over the other based on gender, but the court will always decide what is best for the child, using factors such as each parent’s fitness to have custody, each parent’s wishes, each parent’s ability to adapt to the child’s needs, the child’s age, sex and health, the child’s physical, spiritual and moral well-being, the child’s potential environment and surroundings in each parent’s household, the child’s preference, and the influences in each parent’s household that may affect the child, including a parent’s history of domestic violence.

At the beginning of each custody case, each parent must notify the court of any issues of domestic violence, protective orders or termination of parental rights of another child. The court will not continue with the trial without any of that information.

  • A protective order is an order a judge issues to restrain a person from committing domestic violence against another person.
  • If either parent claims that the other parent has committed domestic violence, the court must determine whether abuse has occurred before awarding custody.

If the court finds that a parent has committed domestic violence, the court won’t award that parent custody or unsupervised visitation unless there is no likelihood of the parent committing future abuse.

There are many factors the court will need to look at in order to issue proper custody rights. Make sure to call an experienced Maryland family law lawyer who can help you and your case.


The Burton Law Firm understands how domestic violence can affect you and your family’s life indefinitely. Having years of experience handling all types of divorce & family law cases throughout the state of Maryland, you can trust us to handle your case with care. Give us a call at (301) 420-5540 to speak to a Maryland family law lawyer.


Contact our office as soon as possible so our team of Family Law attorneys can properly evaluate your case and protect your rights.