Enforcing the Protective Orders
Interviewer: What would happen if an individual were to violate the protective order or no contact order?
Anitha Johnson: The relief for that is the person can “content” the protective order. Content is an action where you’re seeking that the court holds the party in contempt for obeying the court order. A protective order is a court order. You can enforce it by filing for contempt or you can file criminal charges because a violation of a protective order is criminal.
That’s why it’s important to have representation before going to court for a protective order. The respondent could be subjecting themselves to criminal charges in the future.
If You Are the Party Subject to a Protective Order, What Should You Do if the Protected Party Is Trying to Contact You?
Interviewer: Let’s say I have a protective order on me; however, my former spouse is trying to contact me via text or through e-mail?
Anitha Johnson: That’s a good question because there’s an argument where if the petitioner who sought the protective order is the person contacting you they have waived the protection. I don’t know how it is worded.
The Courts in Maryland May Feel the Order Does Not Have to Be Enforced If the Petitioner Is the Party Making Contact
They’ve waived the protection that was afforded to them under the protective order because the protective order says no contact. By them contacting the respondent then that means they’ve waived that provision of no contact. There’s an argument that if the petitioner is the one that waived it and initiated the contact then the court does not have to enforce that protective order.
Interviewer: Are the petitioners aware that this can happen? Are they made aware of these consequences?
Respondents Should Ensure the Petitioners Rescind the Order in the Event of Reconciliation
Anitha Johnson: No, I doubt it. And this actually happens frequently. If a party got mad, they ran out and got a protective order, the issue would be that the respondent should demand that they rescind, or terminate the protective order, modify it to terminate it before they agree to get back together.
What has happened on many occasions, they get back together and the protective order is still pending and then they get into another fight and then they’re subject to violation of a protective order.
Interviewer: Before we conclude I wanted to know if there are any particular aspects of child support or protective orders that we should discuss.
The Courts Are Acquainted with Petitions for Unwarranted Protective Orders, Especially during Divorce Actions
Anitha Johnson: Many times when we’re defending protective orders we let the judge know that the opposing party, the petitioner, had other motivations for issuing the protective orders. In those cases the judge usually denies the protective order.
For instance, if the petitioner was having an affair and the husband caught them sometimes the woman would issue a protective order against the husband in order to make herself appear in a better light or flip the blame on him.
What could happen is if someone files for divorce suddenly the other side may issue a protective order against them just because they want to be on defense. That happens frequently and the court normally sees through that.
Say a party has been married for fifteen years and no one’s ever called the police or no protective order was ever issued. As soon as a party files for divorce, they seek a protective order in order to make the person look bad. Many courts can see through that.
Men Can Also File for Orders of Protection to Stop Phone Harassment or Property Damage
Interviewer: To dispel any myths here, it’s not always a woman that has to be the person that’s ordered the protective order. There are some cases where the petitioners are men. Is that accurate?
Anitha Johnson: Oh yes, men ask for protection all the time. Women harass them, maybe they break up with them and the woman is still calling them repeatedly. Telephone abuse is a common reason. Stalking, threats, even violence, property destruction; you destroyed a person’s property, their car, and they just want you to stay away is another reason to seek a protective order.
Interviewer: Can someone petition for a protective order against a family member?
Anitha Johnson: Yes, you can seek protective orders for any other person.