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Domestic Violence in Maryland

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Domestic violence has been around for a long time. Unfortunately, battered and abused spouses were ignored until recent times when legislatures finally woke up and enacted legislation to protect those who could not protect themselves.

No one and I mean no one has the right to hit another. There is no excuse and absolutely no reason that anyone should have to suffer from violence and humiliation. The real question is why battered and abused spouses allow themselves to be placed in a position for abuse?

There is no simple answer. However, here is a list of most common reasons.           

  1. Financial dependence on spouse.
  2. Lack of self esteem and depression.
  3. The children.
  4. No place to go and no support group spouse is aware of.
  5. Embarrassment over admitting failure in the marriage. 

Is there help? Yes!!-But first you must be willing to help yourself before anyone can help you. Admitting there is a problem is the first big step. The second thing you need to do is seek advice from a member of the clergy, mental health professional, marriage support groups or an attorney in your community.  Many communities offer free support groups and places you and the children can go and stay in times of crisis. Check it out so the next time you are prepared to take the right steps for you and the children.

Most states now have “Domestic Violence” statutes that can provide a cooling off period. If you have been abused, call the police, seek medical attention, take pictures (they are truly worth a thousand words) and file a petition with your local court, police or commissioner. This will send the abuser packing for a cooling off period. However, the alleged abuser will have a hearing generally within 1 week, depending on service and the court system. At that time the court will decide whether to extend the time to stay away or not. Most courts can give you use and possession of your home, temporary custody of your child or children and temporary support. The Judge can often order the abusing spouse to attend anger management courses, pay interim support and keep the person away from schools and work.  

Never use domestic violence as a way to instigate an altercation because you are trying to get your spouse out of the house. This could boomerang against you and now you are on the defensive. Judges are keenly aware that there is room for reverse abuse by using the statutes solely for self gain and to get custody of the children as the first strike in a custody battle. You could loose and so do the children.  

The Courts generally define domestic violence as an individual who has received deliberate, severe, and demonstrable physical injury, or is in fear of imminent deliberate, severe, and demonstrable physical injury from a current or former spouse, or a current or former cohabitant. The Court can and does look at past acts of domestic violence.  

Do not wait until after you have been abused, because the Courts are there to provide immediate relief and generally will not issue an order weeks after the incident.

When you go to Court many advocacy groups can assist you at nominal charge or for free. If you know that you need and want a final break in the relationship and you are ready to help yourself, then contact a lawyer in your community to assist you. He can help you prepare for your trial. He understands the judicial process and can help you from making a mistake that could lead to a denial of a domestic violence order. Be prepared to have witnesses, bring photos and medical records. 

Don't be a statistic. You need to help yourself before anyone can help you. Your future depends on what you do.

This article is general in nature and you should check with a lawyer in your community for specific legal advice on your facts and domestic violence laws in your community.

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