Chapter 50B of the North Carolina Statutes provides a trial court with the authority to enter a domestic violence order of protection in certain circumstances. Domestic violence is defined as: the commission of one or more of the following acts upon an aggrieved party or upon a minor child residing with or in the custody of the aggrieved party by a person with whom the aggrieved party has or has had a personal relationship, but does not include acts of self-defense:
- Attempting to cause bodily injury, or intentionally causing bodily injury; or
- Placing the aggrieved party or a member of the aggrieved party’s family or household in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment, as defined in G.S. 14-277.3A, that rises to such a level as to inflict substantial emotional distress; or
- Committing any act defined in G.S. 14-27.21 through G.S. 14-27.33.
A “personal relationship” for purposes of this statute means that the parties:
- Are current or former spouses;
- Are persons of the opposite sex who live together or have lived together;
- Are related as parents and children, including others acting in loco parentis to a minor child, or as grandparents and grandchildren. For purposes of this subdivision, an aggrieved party may not obtain an order of protection against a child or grandchild under the age of 16;
- Have a child in common;
- Are current or former household members;
- Are persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been in a dating relationship. For purposes of this subdivision, a dating relationship is one wherein the parties are romantically involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship. A casual acquaintance or ordinary fraternization between persons in a business or social context is not a dating relationship.
About Personal Relationships & Domestic Violence
If you and the other party are in a relationship that qualifies within the definition of “personal relationship” and if the other party has committed an act that the statute defines as “domestic violence,” you may file a complaint with the trial court and ask that the court enter an order that tells the other party to stay away from you, to not have contact with you, and to not commit any further acts of domestic violence against you. In some situations, the trial court may enter an emergency order, based upon the allegations in your complaint and upon your testimony, even before the other party knows that a case has been filed.
This emergency order will be in place during the time that the other party is served with the complaint, and you are awaiting a full hearing with both parties present. Once the other party has been served with the complaint, the trial court will conduct a hearing and will hear evidence from both of you. If the court determines that the other party has committed an act of domestic violence, the court will enter a domestic violence order of protection. This order will be in place for one year and can be renewed every year if necessary.
During the time that the domestic violence order of protection is in place, the trial court has the authority to punish violations of the order through the contempt process. A domestic violence proceeding is a civil action, but a party who violates a valid protective order may also be arrested for those violations and may be prosecuted for that violation.
A North Carolina Domestic Violence Attorney You Can Trust
A domestic violence protective order is a useful tool for those who are the victims of domestic violence, but for parties who are spouses, the protective order will not resolve all of the issues related to the end of the marital relationship. Although the domestic violence statutes do authorize a court to include temporary orders for child custody and financial support as a part of the protective order, those temporary orders are only to be in place for a short period of time and the parties will need to seek a permanent resolution of issues involving custody, financial support, and property division.
The attorneys at Collins Family and Elder Law Group have the experience and expertise to assist you with your domestic violence case and with matters of custody, financial support, and property division.