The news is flooded with stories of domestic violence, and in the most tragic cases, someone loses their life at their partner's hands. In the United States, three people lose their lives every day to domestic violence, and North Carolina residents are not immune to this. North Carolina law provides a way for victims of domestic violence to protect themselves from further abuse with a Protective Order.
What is a Protective Order in North Carolina?
A protective order is also called a 50B Order after the legal statute that sets its guidelines. It is a civil order signed by a judge that orders the offender to physically stay away from the victim and to have no contact with the victim in any form, such as by telephone, text message, or email.
To qualify for a protective order, the victim must have a personal relationship with the offender and an act of domestic violence must have occurred. If these two criteria are not met, the court cannot issue a protective order. A personal relationship means that the offender is the victim's domestic partner, dating partner, spouse, parent, or child.
In accordance with the federal Violence Against Women Act, North Carolina courts do not charge a filing fee for a protective order.
Acts of Domestic Violence
Acts of domestic violence that qualify for a Protective Order include:
- Intentionally causing bodily injury
- Attempting to cause bodily injury
- Creating fear of imminent serious bodily injury
- Continued harassment leading to substantial emotional distress, and/or
- Sexual offenses.
The North Carolina Protective Order Process
The victim begins the process by filing a complaint with the clerk of the civil court or magistrate's office. This tells the court why they are in danger and in need of immediate protection.
The court then issues a temporary protective order and a summons that the Sheriff's Office serves on the offender, along with a copy of the complaint and the temporary protective order.
The court sets a hearing date within 10 days, and both the victim and the offender must attend. The victim must make the case that an act of domestic violence occurred, and the offender has a chance to respond.
If the court finds that an act of domestic violence occurred, it will issue a permanent protective order good for one year.
As part of the Protective Order, the judge may give the victim temporary custody of any minor children and pets and order the offender to pay child or spousal support. If the victim and the offender live together, the order may specify that the offender has to move out of the residence or pay for suitable housing for the victim. The offender may be required to complete counseling and treatment.
Jerkins Family Law
If you or your minor child are victims of domestic violence, please contact our office so we can guide you through the process of obtaining a Protective Order. Jerkins Family Law is located in Raleigh, North Carolina, and dedicated to helping our clients through these difficult situations. Visit our Protective Orders page for more information and contact us today.