Right now, under the laws in Maryland, a divorce court is not allowed to take protective orders into account. Both orders and decisions that are made in circuit courts or district courts can’t be used.

That doesn’t mean that abuse and domestic violence can’t be considered at all. Abuse may be cited when providing a reason for the split. However, protective orders can’t be admitted, even if they’re the result of things like stalking, rape or assault.

A new bill is aimed at changing that, allowing these orders to be used in divorce court. It recently went in front of the Maryland House, and it passed easily. Reports show that no one even voted against it.

Those who support the bill were very happy to see it go through, saying that ignoring it really just put people in serious danger. One woman, who works with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, noted that people who survive abuse are in the most danger when they’re attempting to get out of the relationship.

Another supporter called the current laws that are on the books an unnecessary restriction, noting that they kept the court from really considering the circumstances a person could be facing when asking for a divorce. She is the Executive Director and Council for the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

This does not mean that the bill is a law yet or that anything the courts can do has been changed. However, it is one more step in that direction, and it will be important for citizens to know how it changes their rights if it’s made into law.

Source: The Dispatch, “Bill would allow protective orders admitted in divorce court,” Associated Press, March 02, 2017

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