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Legal Information: Maryland

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
August 13, 2019

Under what circumstances can I request that the court records be shielded from public view?

Either party can file a written request to shield from public view all court records related to a protective order proceeding if:

  • a petition for a protective order was denied or dismissed at the interim, temporary, or final protective order stage; or
  • the respondent agreed (consented) to a protective order being issued. In this case, the request must be filed after the protective order expires.1

Note: If the request to shield is filed within the first three years after the denial or dismissal of the petition or the consent to the entry of the protective order, the person who makes this request would need to also sign a “general waiver and release” that removes any possibility that the person can file a civil lawsuit related to the protective order proceeding.2

After the request to shield is filed, the judge would hold a hearing where both parties have the opportunity to appear in court. The judge can order that the records be shielded if:

  • there was no prior final protective order or peace order issued against the respondent in a proceeding between the petitioner and the respondent;
  • the respondent has not been found guilty of a crime arising from abuse against the petitioner;
  • none of the following are pending at the time of the hearing to shield the order:
    • an interim or temporary protective order or peace order against the respondent in a proceeding between the petitioner and the respondent; or
    • a criminal charge against the respondent arising from alleged abuse against the petitioner;3 and
  • in the case where the request is filed after the respondent agreed (consented) to the protective order, the respondent must not have violated the protective order.4

However, even if all of these above factors are true, the judge can still deny the request to shield if the judge believes there is “good cause” to do so. In making this decision, the judge will balance the privacy concerns of either or both parties and the potential danger or risk of future harm to the victim or the community at large.5

1 MD Code, Family Law, § 4-512(b), (e)(1)(i)
2 MD Code, Family Law, § 4-512(c)
3 MD Code, Family Law, § 4-512(d)(3)
4 MD Code, Family Law, § 4-512(e)(1)(i)
5 MD Code, Family Law, § 4-512(d)(4)