Being a spouse or partner in an abusive relationship is a very difficult situation for you and your children. Not knowing where to turn or what rights you have to protect yourself and your family can be painful as you try to do the best you can. The state of North Carolina provides protection for people in this situation through the courts – Domestic Violence Protective Orders, which are also called a “50B,” or Restraining Order.
A Restraining Order, is signed by a judge and orders your abuser to stop the abuse or face serious legal consequences. It offers legal protection from domestic violence to both female, male victims and minor children.
Benefits of a Restraining Order:
If you are in an abusive relationship, there are important benefits to getting a Restraining Order. A Restraining Order can protect you and your loved ones in the following ways:
- Orders the abuser to stay away from and to not assault, threaten or harass you and your minor children;
- Living Arrangements:
- Allows you to maintain possession of your residence or home and order the abuser to move out and not return, no matter who owns the home or is on the lease; or
- Orders the abuser to provide suitable alternative housing for you and your children; and
- Allows the police to remove the abuser from the home so you can return;
- Gives you temporary custody of your minor children,
- Orders the abuser to pay temporary child support and
- Establish temporary visitation (custody, child support, and visitation only apply if the abuser is the parent of the child);
- Orders your abusive spouse to pay temporary spousal support;
- Immediate arrest of abuser for any violation;
- Recovery of attorney’s fees.
Types and Duration of Restraining Orders:
- Emergency ex parte domestic violence order:
- An emergency ex parte order is issued by the court after hearing from one side only (in this case the abused spouse or partner).
- If a judge finds that you have presented sufficient evidence of danger from acts of domestic violence to you and/or your children, he or she will issue an emergency ex parte Restraining Order.
- The Order lasts for approximately ten (10) days
- Provides for various forms of relief such keeping the abuser away from you and your children.
- If an ex parte Restraining Order is entered, the court must set a hearing within ten (10) days after giving notice to the abuser.
- Final Restraining Order:
- Issued by a judge after a full hearing
- At a Restraining Order hearing, you should tell the judge:
- What the abuser has done to physically hurt you or your children
- What threats of bodily injury the abuser made to you or your children
- Why exactly you fear for your safety
- How the abuser has stalked or harassed you.
- There are many different types of evidence that may be introduced at the hearing. For example, you could bring photos of broken furniture or objects; photos of your physical injuries; medical records; police reports as well as records of work missed as a result of the abuse.
- Can last up to 1 calendar year
Can a Restraining Order be extended?
Restraining Orders are not permanent. The initial Order can last up to one year. As the initial party requesting the Restraining Order, you have the right to request an extension of the original order. What are the key elements of extending a DVPO?
- The extension can only be for another 2-year term
- However, it is possible to ask for multiple extensions of up to 2 years
- The requesting spouse/partner must show “good cause” on why the protective order is still needed.
- “Good cause” can be based on the same set of facts that created the original DVPO. New acts of abuse do not seem to be required.
- Extending the order is within the judge’s discretion and not required by the state statute.
What happens if the Original Order Expires before an Extension is Granted?
This can be a dangerous time for anyone covered by a Restraining Order. Once an original order expires, the parties are no longer bound to abide by any restrictions in that order – even if an extension has been requested but not yet granted. That is why the state statute requires a party’s request to renew be made before the expiration of the existing order. However, the statute does not require the renewal order be entered by the court before expiration of the existing order. It is important you communicate with your lawyers and let them know you want an extension of the order long before it expires.
Key facts about a Restraining Order (DVPO or “50B”):
- Can be requested by a spouse or partner (Male or female) alleging abuse, harassment, or stalking to them or their children
- Initial order is for 10 days based on the allegations of the abused spouse
- A full hearing on the Restraining Order is held and if a Final Restraining Order is granted, it is limited to a term of 1 year
- A person can request multiple extensions of the original Restraining Order but each extension can only last 2 years
- If the original Restraining Order expires before the extension is approved, none of the parties are restricted by the original order
Being in an abusive relationship is not easy on the you or your children. The law provides protection if you are in such a relationship. There are specific legal steps necessary to obtain and renew a Restraining Order (DVPO or “50B).” Our team of caring qualified attorneys are here to help if you find yourself in such a terrible situation. Call us today at 704-333-9900 or online here.