Details on Who Is Eligible for a Protective Order

Under Maryland law, the following people are eligible for a protective order.

Read the law: Md. Code Fam. Law § 4-501

1. The current or former spouse of the batterer
The current or former spouse and the victim do not have to be living together.  A former spouse is eligible regardless of how long the abused person and the batterer have been separated or divorced.  A person continues to be eligible for relief whether or not he/she or his/her former spouse have a new/different spouse.

2. A cohabitant of the batterer
Cohabitant means a person who:

  • is having a sexual relationship with the batterer and
  • has lived with the batterer in a home/apartment for at least 90 days within one year before the filing of the petition.

The 90 days do not have to be consecutive (it does not need to be 90 days in a row).  For example: The couple may have lived together for 30 days in September, 30 days in December, and then 30 days in July.

The 90 days/within one year condition applies only to the requirement of living together.  There is no requirement that the batterer and the person eligible for relief have had a sexual relationship for 90 days within 1 year.

The cohabitant and the respondent can be of the same sex.

3. A person related to the batterer by blood, marriage, or adoption
This is a simple way to help define a person eligible for legal protection.

  • If you are a son, daughter, niece, or nephew you may be eligible for legal protection.
  • A parent, step-parent, child or step-child of the batterer or the person eligible for relief who resides or resided with the respondent or person eligible for relief for at least 90 days within 1 year before the filing of the petition.

This section is similar to the Cohabitant relationship:  i.e. a step-child of a batterer may be eligible for relief if they have resided with the batterer for at least 90 days in a 1 year period.

4. A vulnerable adult
This is defined as an adult who does not have the necessary mental or physical capacity to provide for his or her own daily needs.

5. A person who has a child in common with the batterer
This does not require that the batterer and the abused were married or whether or not they reside together.  The batterer and the abused do not have to have been living together at the time of the abuse.

6. A person who has had a sexual relationship with the respondent within 1 year before the filing of the petition.


Updated by Deena Hausner, Esq.

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