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Quick Facts on Domestic Violence
If you and/or your children have suffered acts of domestic violence, you may be eligible to get a Domestic Violence Protective Order against the abuser in accordance with Chapter 50B of the North Carolina General Statues (also called a "DVPO" or a "50B" or a "restraining order").
Eligibility for a 50B Protective Order
You are eligible to obtain a 50B Order against an abuser if you have a "personal relationship" which means you and the alleged abuser are either:
Standard for obtaining a 50B Protective Order
In order to obtain a 50B Order, you will need to prove that the alleged abuser committed acts of domestic violence against you and/or your children.
An "act of domestic violence" is defined as either:
Effect of a 50B Protective Order
In its simplest form, a 50B Order directs the abuser to stay away from and to not assault, threaten or harass the victim and the victim's children. It can also provide other types of relief, including granting a party possession of the residence, requiring a party to provide a spouse and his or her children suitable alternate housing, award temporary custody of children and establish a "temporary safe visitation plan", order either party to make child support or spousal support payments, or order the party evicted from the residence.
Obtaining an Emergency Ex Parte Order
The process begins when you fill out a Complaint and Motion for Domestic Protective Violence Order and file it with the Clerk of Court or at the magistrate's office if it is after regular work hours. This starts the lawsuit against your abuser. You will typically have an emergency Ex Parte Hearing (without the abuser present) with a District Court Judge within seventy-two (72) hours after the filing of your Complaint. If the judge finds you have presented sufficient evidence of danger of acts of domestic violence, he or she will issue an emergency Ex Parte 50B Order which lasts for ten (10) days. If no Ex Parte Order is entered, the Court must set a hearing after providing five (5) days notice to the other party or after five (5) days from the service of process on the other party.
The Duration of a 50B Protective Order
After your emergency Ex Parte Order is entered or after five (5) days notice is given to the other party or five (5) days from the service of process on the other party, the judge will schedule a full "10-day" Hearing, where the abuser (and perhaps his or her attorney) will be present. At the "10-day" Hearing, the judge will decide whether to issue a 50B Order for up to a maximum of one year. Your only remedy after the one-year period is to request a renewal of your Order for an additional period of time, up to a year.
Bringing Criminal Charges Against Your Abuser
Along with the civil remedies discussed above, a victim of domestic violence can also bring criminal charges against his or her attacker. These crimes include, but are not limited to, Rape and Sexual Offense, Assault, Domestic Criminal Trespass, Communicating Threats, Stalking or Harassing Phone Calls.
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The court applies the North Carolina child support guidelines to determine the amount of child support. The Court may vary from the guidelines when it finds by the greater weight of the evidence that their application would either not meet, or would exceed, the reasonable needs of the child.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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