Protective Orders as Evidence in Divorce Cases

Are you going through a divorce? Do you have a protective order or multiple protective orders against your spouse? One might assume that those protective orders can be used in your divorce proceeding against your spouse. While that is not the case at this time, this soon may change.

Traditionally, orders from domestic violence proceedings are not allowed as evidence in divorce proceedings. According to Md. Code, Family Law § 7-103.1, not only is a protective order inadmissible as evidence in a divorce proceeding, but a court cannot consider a protective order as grounds for granting a limited or absolute divorce. The reason this law was put in place to begin with is that legislators were concerned that protective orders would be used as grounds for a divorce.

This law may soon change. A bill was introduced this year to repeal the language in Md. Code, Family Law § 7-103.1. So why is it so important for protective orders to be allowed as evidence in divorce proceedings?

  • Abusers often manipulate their victims, and often times this manipulation happens in the courtroom.
  • Not only are protective orders important for divorce issues, but also important when the couple getting divorced is determining custody or visitation issues.
  • It is possible that at the time of the divorce proceeding, there may not be circumstances of abuse, or the abuse might not be clear to the presiding judge or magistrate. Therefore, without being able to admit the protective order into evidence, the judge or magistrate would not know of any abuse.

Although the Maryland House recently voted in favor of this bill, the Senate has yet to vote so the fate of this bill is yet to be determined.