What types of protective orders are there? How long do they last?
There are three types of protective orders:
Interim protective orders - If you wish to file for a protective order but the court clerk’s office is closed in both the circuit and district courts, you can file for an interim order by going to the nearest district court commissioner. An interim order goes into effect once the respondent is served by a law enforcement officer. The interim order lasts until a judge holds a temporary hearing, which is usually within a couple of days unless the judge postpones it. If the court is closed on the day on which the interim protective order is due to expire, the interim protective order will be effective until the next day on which the court is open, at which time the judge has to hold a temporary protective order hearing.1
Temporary protective orders - When you go to court during normal court hours to file for a final protective order, you can ask for a temporary protective order, which can be issued the same day. This order can be issued “ex parte” (without the abuser present) and without a full court hearing. If the abuser is not present in court, law enforcement is supposed to serve him/her “immediately” after it is issued. If the abuser was already served with an interim order and is present in court, s/he can be served with the temporary order in court or if s/he doesn’t show up to court, it will be served through the mail. The temporary order is in effect for 7 days after service of the order, at which point a full court hearing will be held for a final protective order. If the court is closed on the day on which the temporary protective order is due to expire, the temporary protective order will be effective until the second day on which the court is open, by which time the judge has to hold a final protective order hearing. The judge may extend the temporary order as needed, but not to more than 6 months.2
Final protective orders - A final protective order can be issued only after both sides have the opportunity to present their evidence and testimony at a full court hearing. If the judge believes that the abuse has occurred, or if the abuser agrees to you getting the protective order, the judge may grant a final protective order.3 A final protective order will generally last up to one year, unless otherwise stated. However, it can last for up to two years, if:
- you had an order against the abuser before that lasted for at least 6 months, and s/he abused you again within 1 year of your old order expiring; or
- if the abuser consents to the 2-year order within 1 year after the date that your prior final protective order issued against him/her expired.4
Final orders may also be extended and it may be possible in the future to request a final protective order that lasts forever if certain circumstances are met.5 See How do I change or extend my protective order? for more information.
1 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-504.1(a),(b),(e)(1),(h)
2 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-505(a)(1),(b),(c)
3 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-506(c)(1)(ii)
4 MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-506(j)(1),(2)
5 MD Code, Fam. Law §§ 4-507(a); 4-506(k)(1),(3)