Obtaining a Protective Order

In Domestic Violence, Relationships by Elizabeth Stephenson

Domestic violence in a relationship can feel terrifying, surreal, and exhausting. It can make you feel shameful, embarrassed, defensive, and helpless. However, if you are experiencing domestic violence in your relationship, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and you are not alone. In fact, the laws of North Carolina establish several options to protect you, both in criminal and in civil law.

Your first line of protection is the police. If you or your children are in immediate danger, you need to call 911. Law enforcement takes emergency domestic disturbances incredibly seriously. A result of police involvement can involve incarceration and the filing of criminal charges against the perpetrator of the violence.

A Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO)

In addition to police involvement and possible criminal charges, there are civil remedies to help protect you. One of these options is a Domestic Violence Protective Order, or a DVPO. The North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 50B, legally defines domestic violence as one of the following acts against an aggrieved party or a child in their custody by a person who has had a personal relationship with that party:

  • Attempting to cause bodily injury, or intentionally causing bodily injury; or
  • Placing the aggrieved party or a household member in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment that inflicts substantial emotional distress; or
  • A criminal act involving rape or sexual assault.

What Relief Can I Seek?

If you believe that you or your child is in danger of serious and immediate injury, you or your attorney may seek an emergency protective order from the proper court. This is referred to as an Ex Parte Order, which is an emergency order entered by the judge without the presence of all parties. If granted, this emergency order will include a stay-away order and may also include temporary child custody orders. This Ex-Parte order is generally valid for ten days after the order is signed.

Within ten days of the Ex-Parte order’s entry, or seven days after the defendant is actually served with the petition, the court is required to hold a full hearing regarding the DVPO request. Depending on the strength of the evidence, the aggrieved party may be awarded a stay away order, temporary custody of the child, child support, temporary alimony, the right to live in the family residence, custody of the pets, and a prohibition on firearms. A DVPO lasts for up to one year, with the possibility of a two year extension (extensions are not to include custody orders).

If you are in a relationship that involves domestic violence, or if you have been served with a petition seeking a protective order, we can help you. New Direction Family Law has years of experience addressing domestic violence situations in North Carolina and can guide you through this time of crisis. Call our office today at (919) 719-3470 for a comprehensive consultation, or reach us online at our website.