WHAT ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
If you safely can, contact us before you leave your home so we can make sure all legal steps are taken from the very beginning. We can also advise you if you have any current court orders that would be violated if you remove your children from the residence.
When you are safe, we can lead you through the process of filing for a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO). North Carolina’s legal system has strong laws to quickly and efficiently protect victims of Domestic Violence.
- Intentional physical harm or attempted physical harm;
- Production of constant fear of physical harm in a member or members of the household;
- Creation of constant fear of continued harassment in a member or members of the household, which leads to significant emotional distress; and
- Rape or any type of sexual abuse of a member or members of the household.
What is a “personal relationship”? It is:
- People who are currently or formerly married;
- Two people of the opposite sex who live together or did live together;
- Parents and children; grandparents and grandchildren;
- Two people who have a child or children together; or
- Current or former co-habitating individuals
Two people of the opposite sex who are or were dating one another
To apply for a DVPO, all you need to report is one of these four types of Domestic Violence. You may report after only one instance of one of these acts.
- Bans the aggressor from the victim’s home, school, and/or workplace;
- Bans the aggressor from their child(ren)’s school and/or daycare;
- Bans the aggressor from contact with children who are in the care of the victim;
- Protects the victim’s family or other household member from threats from the aggressor;
- Protects their animals or pets from harm by the aggressor;
- Allows the victim possession of any animals or pets;
- Allows the victim possession of their residence, while evicting the aggressor from that location;
- Allows the victim possession of their vehicle;
- Demands the aggressor pay temporary child support to the victim;
- Bans the aggressor from possessing and/or purchasing a gun;
- Demands that the aggressor immediately surrender all firearms, ammunition, and gun permits; and/or
- Demands that the aggressor attend a treatment program.
This one form, which is available on the North Carolina Courts website or in each county’s Clerk of Superior Court’s office, is all you need. You may fill this form out on your own or have a lawyer handle this for you instead.
If you choose to fill out this form on your own, be clear and specific in your details. List all facts related to the Domestic Violence issues in order to give the Judge reviewing your Complaint a crystal clear picture of the act(s) of Domestic Violence you survived.
Check all boxes you need to feel safe and protected in your current situation.
Each county follows its own procedure for submitting a Complaint and Motion to the District Court Judge, and some counties have a Magistrate review it instead. You may be directed to a courtroom and may speak to a judge, or you may not.
Once your paperwork has been reviewed, the Judge will issue an Ex Parte Domestic Violence Order of Protection if your case meets the qualifications; if he determines your case does not qualify then the Judge will deny your Complaint and Motion.
Once the Order of Protection is issued, you will immediately receive a court date within ten days of the Order’s issue date.
The Clerk of Superior Court’s office will send both the Complaint and Motion you filed and the Ex Parte Order issued to the Sheriff’s Office in the county where the aggressor resides. A deputy will be detailed to properly serve the defendant at the address you provided on the form. The deputies will inform him or her of the order and explain that they are not allowed to contact you in any way.
You will want to provide any evidence you have of the abuse, such as medical reports, photographs, and other physical evidence. The Judge may examine any injuries you have as well. If you have any witnesses they will need to testify too.
The key to properly presenting any evidence lies with proper organization. You should highlight the most important facts and submit your information clearly and concisely. Make sure all evidence you submit to the Judge supports your claims of abuse.
After this hearing, the Judge will either grant or deny a permanent DVPO that can last for up to one year.
Make sure you are specific and clear on this form as well. Again, you will appear in court to bring your case before the Judge. He or she will review your case and determine whether to renew or deny your request. If you are granted renewal, your DVPO may be renewed for up to two additional years.
Knowingly violating a DVPO or ex-parte DVPO is typically classified as a Class A1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 150 days in jail. North Carolina law allows more serious violations and repeated instances to be punishable as felonies instead.
Remember to call 911 first, but you can also file a motion with the Court, and ask the Court to hold them in contempt of the Court order. To begin this process, fill out the Motion for Order to Show Cause for Domestic Violence Protective Order. Once more, you may obtain this form on the North Carolina Courts website or in each county’s Clerk of Superior Court’s office.
Repercussions for contempt include fines and/or further jail time.
You will need to file a second complaint to handle any permanent child custody, child support, alimony, or equitable distribution needs.