How to Seek Protection From Domestic Violence
Getting Protection from Domestic Violence
If you or someone you love have experienced domestic violence, you may want to seek protection from the law. The law can provide protection in the form of a Domestic Violence Protective Order, or DVPO for short.
North Carolina law defines domestic violence as the following:
- 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, that rises to such a level as to inflict substantial emotional distress; or
- Committing an act of rape or sexual offense.
In order to seek the protection of a DVPO the law requires a “personal relationship” between the aggressor and the aggrieved party. A personal relationship exists when the parties involved:
- Are current or former spouses;
- Are persons of opposite sex who live together or have lived together;
- Are related as parents and children or as grandparents and grandchildren. (but you can’t seek protection from 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.
If you or a minor child you live with have experienced domestic violence from someone with whom you share a personal relationship, you can file for a DVPO. In the interest of combatting domestic violence, North Carolina allows you to file for a protective order without paying any filing fees and explicitly states that you may proceed with the domestic violence action without an attorney.
Once you file for protection the court will make an initial determination on the merits of your claim ‘ex parte’ meaning the alleged aggressor will not be present. If the court determines that you do need protection based on your allegations, the court will issue an initial protective order that prevents the aggressor from having any contact with you. The court will then give notice of the ex parte order and your complaint to the aggressor. This order will be in place until the court can have a full hearing on your case where the aggressor will be present to defend against your allegations. This hearing should take place within 10 days after the issuance of the ex parte order or 7 days after the aggressor is served with notice of the complaint and hearing.
If the court determines at the hearing that there was domestic violence, the court can order the aggressor to stay away from the aggrieved party, refrain from committing further acts of domestic violence, or otherwise harassing the aggrieved party. The court can also order spousal support, child support and child custody. The protective order issued by the court will be in place for one year, but can be renewed thereafter. If the aggressor violates the court order, he or she can be held in contempt of court, which could result in the aggressor being arrested and charged with a criminal offense.
A Domestic Violence Protective Order can be a useful tool to ensure your safety and the safety of your loved ones. Although the law allows parties to represent themselves in seeking DVPOs and the court system is set up to make it as easy as possible for parties to represent themselves, it can still be highly valuable to have an attorney who knows the law and the system standing by your side and advocating to the judge on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible. Let the experienced family law attorneys at Kurtz & Blum, PLLC stand up for you.