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Restraining Order

A restraining order is a court order that protects you from physical, emotional, or financial abuse. It can also protect you from being stalked or harassed. In North Carolina, a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) is also called a restraining order, or a 50B. It is a paper which is signed by a judge and tells your abuser to stop the abuse or face serious legal consequences. It offers civil legal protection from domestic violence to both women and men victims.

You can get a domestic violence restraining order if you have been abused and if you have a domestic relationship with that person. This could apply to a spouse, a dating relationship, a live in companion, or someone that you have been previously married to, used to date, or used to live with. It can also be a relative, or an in-law.

In North Carolina, there are two types of domestic violence protective orders:

1. Ex Parte/Temporary Protective Order. This is a court order designed to provide you and your family members with immediate protection from your abuser. A judge may issue an ex parte order on the day you file your petition for a DVPO if s/he believes that there is a serious and immediate danger to you or your child. An Ex Parte/Temporary Protective Order is usually issued without your abuser present ("ex parte").

2. Final Domestic Violence Protective Orders (also called a DVPO or a 50B). This offers the same type of protection as an Ex Parte/Temporary Protective Order, but it lasts longer. Since it lasts longer, you will have to have a full court hearing to get a final Domestic Violence Protective Order. In this hearing, your abuser will have a chance to defend himself. This type of order lasts up to one year, and can be extended.

You can also seek legal protection from acts of domestic violence done to you or your minor child by someone you have had a "personal relationship" with. This means you can seek protection from:

  • Your spouse, or ex-spouse.
  • A person of the opposite sex with whom you live or used to live.
  • Someone you are related to, including parents, children, grandparents and grandchildren, over the age of 16.
  • Someone with whom you have a child in common.
  • A current or former household member.
  • Someone of the opposite sex whom you are dating or have dated.

You can also ask for an order against stalking or sexual harassment. In July 2004, North Carolina passed a law that gives victims of sexual assault or stalking a legal right to get an immediate protective order. This is called a civil no-contact order. It is designed to prevent attackers or harassers from stalking you, showing up at your workplace or contacting family members. With a civil no-contact order, you do not have to have a "personal relationship" with the person, as required by the DVPO. Note that if you have had a "personal relationship" as explained in the DVPO laws above, then you cannot get a civil no-contact order. 

It may not always be necessary to have an attorney to prepare, file, or present your request for a restraining order, but having one on your side, especially during any court proceedings can be very helpful and reassuring. 

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