October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Francois Legal Group was honored to have provided legal assistance on a low bono or pro bono basis this month to several clients who were impacted by intra-family violence.

While it is disheartening to witness the court’s gallery packed with people seeking to obtain relief from the courts on account of domestic violence, the state of Maryland continues to make strides in providing relief to affected individuals.

Effective October 1, 2018, Maryland’s Family Law Article was amended to expand the circumstances under which a person can obtain a permanent protective order. The statute now provides that a petitioner may request a permanent protective order against an abuser, who is party to a current order, if the abuser was convicted for any crime underlying the abuse for a term of five (5) years or more and served at least 12 months in prison. The permanent protective order must seek the same relief as the previous final protective order.

This change in law matters because, generally, a final protective order remains in effect for just one (1) year, whereas a permanent protective order remains in effect indefinitely. This new relief is just another tool to help protect survivors of domestic violence.