Legal Information: Maryland

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
November 13, 2017

Am I eligible for a protective order? Who can file the petition?

You can be eligible for a protective order if you or your minor child has been the victim of abuse by:


  • your current or former spouse;*
  • someone with whom you had a sexual relationship and with whom you lived for at least 90 days during the 1-year period before you filed for the protective order (known as a “cohabitant”);**
  • someone with whom you had a sexual relationship at some point in the 1-year period before the filing of the petition (even if you never lived together);
  • someone related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption; or
  • someone with whom you have a child in common.
  • Note: A parent, step-parent, child or step-child of you or the abuser can file for an order if s/he lived with you or the abuser for at least 90 days during the 1-year period before filing for the order.*

A “vulnerable adult,”* which is an adult who lacks the physical or mental capacity to provide for his/her daily needs, can file for an order against any person (regardless of their relationship) who caused him/her physical injury as the result of cruel treatment or a malicious act.***

Any of the following people can file for a protective order for a minor child or vulnerable adult:


  • the minor or vulnerable adult himself/herself;
  • a person related to the child or vulnerable adult by blood, marriage or adoption;
  • an adult who lives with the child or vulnerable adult;
  • the state attorney (a lawyer working for the government) for the county where the child or vulnerable adult lives or where the abuse took place; or
  • the Department of Social Services in the county where the child or vulnerable adult lives or where the abuse took place.****

Note: If you are not eligible for a protective order, but you have been the victim of abuse and need protection, you may be eligible to file for a peace order.


* MD Code, Fam. Law § 4-501(m)

** MD Code, Fam. Law §§ 4-501(m); 4-501(d)

*** MD Code, Fam. Law § 14-101(b),(q)

**** MD Code Family Law § 4-501(o)