It is all too common that a spouse files a petition for a protective order in the heat of the moment, then upon reflection wishes to withdraw his/her petition. Is there a legal way to drop a protective order?

Dropping The Interim Or Temporary Protective Order

In Maryland, when you file a petition for a protective order, you are seen that day by a judge or commissioner who will, in most cases, grant what is called an interim or temporary protective order.  This order is usually for no more than seven days, and you are required to appear at a hearing with the respondent in order to obtain a final order. In order to drop the case, one could either appear in court for the final protective order hearing and request a dismissal or simply absent themselves from the court hearing. Either way, the order would be dismissed.

Can You Also Get The Final Protective Order Dropped?

The answer is “yes.”  Md. family law code ann. § 4-507 provides for the modification or rescission of a protective order which has not yet expired.   If the person who has been granted the order wishes to modify or rescind (cancel) the order, that person can file a motion for rescission or modification in the court that issued the order.  The court must hold a hearing and, after hearing evidence of the petitioner’s wishes to drop the case or modify the order, it can issue an order which modifies or cancels the protective order.

There are some instances where the person (petitioner) requesting a protective order regrets filing it, or that he or she filed it due to their overreaction to an argument, or that she/filed it for reasons that no longer remain legitimate or valid.  Do not forget that not every heated argument constitutes a legitimate basis for granting a protective order.  and sadly, there are even some who may use the tactic of getting a protective order to increase chances of acquiring custody or of obtaining tactical advantages in a pending divorce case.

Whether the partner or spouse feels he or she requested the protective order for the wrong reasons or regrets filing for a protective order, a reversal of the order requires a hearing before a judge. asking for a hearing to explain the reasons you no longer need the order could lead to a judge’s rescission of the order. Before rescinding its order, moreover, the court must be satisfied that there is no threat to the safety of the individual being protected by the order.

This also represents an area of law where the assistance of an attorney could be quite helpful. A lawyer with experience in protective orders and family law can help you navigate the process of asking the court to withdraw a protective order.