Untangling the Mess: Divorce and Domestic Violence

Thank you for joining me. My name is LaSheena Williams, and I am a Maryland family law attorney. My firm helps our clients take control of out-of-control domestic situations. Today we will be discussing domestic violence and divorce matters in Maryland.

Domestic Violence Concerns During a Divorce

Sometimes during a divorce, domestic violence issues may arise. It’s important to note that you have options regarding those domestic violence concerns. you can always file a petition for protective order. You can always seek assistance from the court in dealing with who’s staying in the home while the petition’s pending or after the position’s been granted. You can seek Emergency Family Maintenance. You can seek temporary custody. You can seek use and possession of the home. There are lots of options that you have at your disposal when seeking a domestic violence petition even if you’re pending a divorce. The issue arises when sometimes there may be conflicts regarding timeline issues and other concerns and it’s important for you to understand what those concerns are so that you can know what your best options are in moving forward.

Understand your Timeline

It’s important to speak with an attorney prior to filing for your petition for a protective order and your petition for divorce.

Know your Options for Filing a Petition

Sometimes you have more options available based on when you file your petition for protection than when you file your divorce. For example, if you file your petition for protection in District Court and you don’t currently have a divorce matter pending in Circuit Court and your domestic violence petition doesn’t work, you have another option where you can appeal to the Circuit Court and have a circuit court judge review your case de novo. However, if you’ve already filed your divorce petition and you file in District Court for protective order, the court may unilaterally just move your matter to the Circuit Court, and you won’t necessarily have a second bite at the Apple in case you don’t have the grounds available to prove your petition for protection order. It’s a lot to consider when timing when to file your petition for protection and when to file your complaint for divorce so it’s better for you and your options if you talk with a lawyer first.

How does a Domestic Violence Case Impact your Divorce?

A domestic violence case can impact your divorce. Primarily because you may get temporary relief under your petition for protection, such as, with support custody use and possession of the home, using possession of the vehicle. You can get all of that done even before you might have the opportunity to have a pendente lite hearing, what is a temporary support or access Hearing in your divorce or custody matter. So, what does that mean? That means you have temporary relief under your protection order. You also could seek temporary relief under your absolute divorce or limited divorce petition and then you still could get relief later. Another issue that’s impacted by having a protection order, is that may impact how the Court addresses mediation because they may be reticent to address mediation when domestic violence is involved in your relationship. So, it may make your options for mediation limited. Having a protective order granted may also impact any legal custody determinations because if there are issues with communication and there are issues with like coercion or assault or whatever the court may be reticent to allow both parties to have shared legal custody when one party may have a negative or aggressive approach to communicating with the other.

If you have any questions about how domestic violence intertwines with divorce in Maryland or any other issues regarding family law in Maryland, contact the Law Office of LaSheena M. Williams at (301) 778 – 9950 or leave an online request for a consultation.