What Do You Need To Know About Emergency Family Maintenance? 

Sadly, domestic violence is a common problem in Maryland and across the country. Fortunately, several resources are available in the state for those seeking relief. You can seek an interim protective order, temporary protective order, or final protective order from the court, which requires one party to abstain from contacting or engaging in certain acts against the other.

When you seek a protective order in Maryland, you may qualify for emergency family maintenance (EFM) to help make ends meet. Learn more about EFM in this blog post, and our Maryland family law attorney at Shah & Kishore can help if you have questions.

Emergency Family Maintenance Overview

EFM in Maryland is a form of temporary financial support similar to child support and alimony. It is granted to the person eligible for relief (the petitioner) and paid by the person who committed the abuse (the respondent). An emergency family maintenance award determination will be based on the petitioner’s financial needs and the financial resources of the abuser. EFM helps ensure you can afford essentials, including housing, childcare, food, utilities, etc.

How Is EFM In Maryland Determined?

Financial relief offered by EFM exists, so you are not dependent on the abuser’s voluntary financial support after a protective order is submitted. To receive emergency family maintenance, you and your attorney must establish that you have a financial need. During this process, you need to demonstrate your financial needs and the abuser’s financial abilities and resources.

A financial statement that shows your and the abuser’s finances can be provided to the court to determine what the EFM payments will be. It is vital to accurately assess your financial situation, including your monthly income and expenses to include:

  • Rent/mortgage
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Childcare
  • Healthcare
  • Utilities

A Shah & Kishore divorce and family law attorney can assist you with preparing this important financial document.

What Happens If The Respondent Does Not Pay?

The court orders emergency family maintenance, so it can and will enforce the order if the respondent, or defendant, does not pay. If payments are not made, you also can file a petition to hold the other party in contempt. This could lead to a protection order violation, leading to criminal prosecution, fines, and imprisonment.

Maryland Protective Orders

In Maryland, you may qualify for EFM after an order of protection is approved by your jurisdiction’s district court or circuit court. A protective order may be appropriate if your spouse has abused you or your children. Potential abusive acts that may qualify for a protective order are:

  • An act that leads to serious bodily harm, including punching, kicking, choking, shooting, shoving, or stabbing
  • An act that puts you in fear of serious bodily injury, including a threat of harm
  • Assault
  • Sexual assault or rape
  • Mental abuse to a minor
  • Stalking
  • Revenge porn

You could be eligible for a protective order in many circumstances. They include if you are:

  • A current or former spouse (called the respondent) of the person who committed the abuse
  • A cohabitant of the person committing the abuse
  • Someone who is related to the respondent by marriage, blood, or adoption
  • A child, stepchild, parent, or stepparent of the respondent, or the person who qualifies for relief who lives with the respondent
  • A vulnerable adult
  • Someone who has a child with the respondent
  • Someone who had an intimate relationship with the abuser within one year before filing for relief

If you qualify for a protective order, you also may qualify for emergency family maintenance.

Types Of Protective Orders

There are three kinds of protective orders in Maryland:

Interim Protective Order

This protective order is granted when it is believed that the person eligible for relief was abused. The interim protective order may state that the abuser cannot engage in further abuse or threats of abuse. They may also be ordered not to contact the petitioner or enter their residence.

There will be a temporary protective order hearing when the interim protective order is approved. The petitioner must attend the hearing; if the abuser does not appear, the hearing will go forward anyway.

Temporary Protective Order

The judge can grant a temporary protective order when it is believed that abuse occurred. When the order is given, the respondent will usually not engage in further abusive acts or make abusive threats. The person who asked for relief will be awarded temporary custody of the children. Note that a temporary protective order lasts up to seven days. At that point, a final protective order hearing is scheduled.

Final Protective Order

A final protective order hearing decides if you are eligible for protection from the abuser, usually for up to 12 months, but sometimes it can be up to 18 months. The hearing

scheduled after the abuser has been provided notice of the hearing and understands the order may be placed against them. Convincing the court to approve a final protective order is challenging because of the evidence required, but it is possible.

How Does A Protective Order Work?

The idea behind a protective order is to keep the respondent away from you, the petitioner.  The court wants to keep the abuser away from the person being abused. The court has considerable discretion to do or not do various things; much depends on the judge. Even in the same jurisdiction, what judges tend to do in these cases can differ.

For instance, when children are involved, one judge may rule that there will be no contact. Another judge might rule that the only contact allowed is about the children and only through text messages. But another judge might allow visitation.

How Long Does A Maryland Protective Order Last?

The protective order can last up to a year. Some judges may make the protective order shorter to get the divorce moving forward.

Contact Our Maryland Divorce Attorney

Our attorneys at Shah & Kishore understand the many stresses and challenges that can happen during or after a divorce. If you have questions about emergency family maintenance or general divorce questions, our Maryland family law attorneys at Shah & Kishore can help, so please call (301) 315-0001. Our attorneys understand that time is of the essence for receiving EFM, so we will work to get the order accomplished as soon as possible.

Our essential business is open during the pandemic Close