By Marc Emden, Esq.

Whether you’re the person filing for a protective order (Petitioner) or the person against whom the Protective Order is filed (Respondent), Maryland law gives the parties a period of up to six months to decide whether to seek a final protective order or to dismiss the case, if they choose to.

It is fairly simple and straightforward. When the Petitioner first files for a protective order before a judge, the court enters a temporary protective order (TPO). The TPO usually lasts for approximately a week at which time the court holds the final hearing to decide whether to enter a Final Protective Order (FPO), which can last for up to one year.

However, if the parties are in agreement because they would like to take more time to decide whether they can reach a compromise without having to undertake a hearing for a FPO, the court can extend the TPO for up to 6 months for “other good cause” under §4-505 (c) of the Maryland Family Law Article.

This window often serves as a golden opportunity for the parties to enter into discussions to attempt to settle some of their outstanding differences, like child support (emergency family maintenance), marital counseling, financial issues, among others, while the case is still pending, but not finalized. If things do not work out between them, the petitioner still enjoys the protections of a temporary stay-away order until the final protective order hearing. If things work out, then the petitioner has the right to ask the court to dismiss the protective order case. The dismissal would then remove the case from Maryland court’s public database – “Maryland Judiciary Case Search”.

Similarly, a court can extend a Temporary Peace Order for up to 30 days for “other good cause” which can serve as a “cooling off period” for people in a dispute who are not related to each other e.g., neighbors.

Extending Temporary Protective Orders and Temporary Peace Orders are rights possessed by many, but asserted by few, simply because their existence may not be widely known by protective / peace order lawyers.