Doing More to Protect Vulnerable Marylanders
This year, Maryland honored Domestic Violence Awareness Month with action rather than just ceremony. October started with Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown announcing the enactment of two new laws designed to aid victims of domestic violence and prevent future violence.
One new law protects unemployment coverage of domestic violence victims by granting them the right to unemployment benefits if they have to leave a job for safety reasons. This prevents victims from being stuck in abusive situations because they worry about being able to support themselves. The law gives victims a chance to transition to a safe situation and find a safe work environment without sacrificing financial security. Before pursuing unemployment benefits under this law, the burden is on victims to prove they were in danger by documenting the abuse with the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR). The law also applies to those who leave their jobs because a family member is in danger.
Another law increases the ability of the justice system to track patterns of domestic abuse. Judges may now flag cases as domestically related regardless of the marital status of the parties involved. The law allows domestic abuse patterns to become more visible to law enforcement and the courts to help prevent of future abuse. When it becomes clear that a defendant has a pattern of abusing a number of intimates and family members, rather the incidents appearing as a string of seemingly unrelated charges, the courts can take appropriate action to protect both current and future victims.
The Lt. Governor is not the only one working hard on behalf of victims of domestic abuse. Contact a Maryland family law firm that has been fighting to protect children and families for over a century if you or someone you know is in an abusive situation and needs help.