Defining and stopping domestic violence

On behalf of Jeffrey N. Greenblatt of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA posted in Divorce on Friday, September 26, 2014.

With so much controversy over domestic violence in the news, a lot of people in Maryland probably have questions about how state law defines domestic violence, and what people who are concerned about domestic abuse can do to protect themselves.

Most people know that physically assaulting a spouse, child or other household member constitutes domestic violence, but there are other acts that are included within the definition. For example, it doesn't necessarily require a person to harm another person physically, it can also include putting a person in fear of harm, including making threats or acting menacingly towards such person. It may also include stalking a person, which may include trespassing or following a person, or otherwise harassing them. Finally, it may also include holding someone against their will.

To pose an unpleasant scenario, if during a divorce a spouse tells another spouse, "if you leave the house, I'll kill you," this would constitute domestic violence in at least two ways. For one, the spouse is holding the other against the person's will and secondly the aggressor is putting the person in imminent fear of harm.

Domestic violence is never acceptable, and must be taken seriously in every circumstance. Victims of domestic violence should file for a protective order, or talk to an experienced Maryland family law attorney who can help them file the order properly. Maryland lawmakers understand that this domestic violence situations can happen at any time, and that waiting is not an option, which is why there are options to allow a person to file for a protective order 24-hours a day.

With a protective order in place, the abuser will be required to stop the domestic violence at the very least, and may also be required to stay away and not contact those named in the protective order. The initial protective order may only be temporary, so people should consult with their attorney about extending or making the order permanent.

Source: Maryland Courts, "Domestic Violence," accessed on Sept. 14, 2014