Written by Jonathan Breeden
A domestic violence protective order (DVPO), also known as a restraining order, offers legal protection from an abusive spouse or partner. In North Carolina, these protection orders are relatively easy to secure, but there are specific requirements and documents you need.
Read on to learn what proof and documents you need to file a DVPO.
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior by an intimate partner that includes physical and sexual abuse. Domestic violence also takes the form of threats, humiliation, isolating the victim from family members and the outside world, and withholding access to money and transportation.
In North Carolina, for instance, a domestic violence protective order prohibits contact between the perpetrator and victim. There are legal consequences, including jail time, for violating the order.
To get a court to issue a restraining order, you need proof of domestic violence, stalking, or other abusive behaviors. Evidence can include:
If possible, take photos or videos of bruises, torn clothing, bloodstains, and a room or area where the attack occurred (broken glass, turned-over furniture, etc.).
A licensed healthcare practitioner provides medical documentation in the form of X-rays, MRI scans, stitches, exam notes, and gynecological tests to determine sexual assault.
Archive or record threatening text messages, emails, and voicemails to support domestic violence or stalking claims. 9-1-1 calls are also recorded.
Ask someone who witnessed the attack if they are willing to make a statement about what they saw and heard.
Police officers who respond to a domestic violence call must complete a report.
There are several forms to obtain a restraining order, depending on the threat or abuse.
If you are in a life-threatening situation, call 911.
You may file a DVPO against the following individuals:
Citizenship or immigrant status does not affect your ability to seek a restraining order.
If you believe that you or your children are in immediate danger, check the box on form 50-B requesting an ex parte or temporary protective order. (Ex parte means “without the other party.”) Checking this box allows you to ask a judge to grant an interim order without the abuser present.
If the judge grants an emergency order, it takes effect immediately. Temporary protective orders generally expire in ten days, during which you can request a permanent order.
For your protection, keep a copy of the emergency order with you. You may make a copy for your child’s school or daycare.
Most DVPOs require that the perpetrator has no contact with you or your children and must stay away from your home, school, and work.
The judge may also include instructions for the abuser to vacate the family home, award temporary sole custody to the other parent, and supervised visitation only, if at all. The abuser faces arrest for violating a DPVO.
Victims of sexual assault or stalking who do not have a qualifying relationship with the abuser should use Form 50-C. Obtaining a civil no-contact order is like getting a DVPO. However, the court, not the police, enforces a civil no-contact order if the defendant violates the terms.
An abuser who violates a DVPO faces arrest and additional charges from the court. You can file a motion for contempt if the defendant tries to contact you or breaks any of the conditions outlined in the order.
All protective orders require the perpetrator is served a civil summons to appear in court. The county sheriff’s office serves the complaint, summons, notice of hearing, and a copy of any temporary protective order.
Tell the sheriff the abuser’s name, address, telephone number, and a brief description to help them serve the summons.
Filing a domestic violence protection order or civil no-contact order with your county clerk’s office is free. However, the county employees cannot help you fill out the form – the law forbids them from giving legal advice or assistance.
You have the right to ask an attorney to help file and seek enforcement for domestic violence or civil restraining orders. You may use your attorney’s address and contact information rather than your address (if you moved).
A North Carolina domestic violence attorney protects you and your children before, during, and after divorce. We’ve helped many clients navigate the emotionally-charged and complex process. We’re ready to help you. Contact the Breeden Law Office for an initial consultation or call (919) 661-4970.