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How to File a Domestic Violence Restraining Order in North Carolina

Raleigh Domestic Violence Lawyers

Experiencing domestic violence is a traumatizing and dangerous situation. If you find yourself in North Carolina facing such circumstances, it is crucial to know how to protect yourself and secure your safety. Seek discreet legal counsel for a domestic violence restraining order to protect yourself.

A domestic violence restraining order, also known as a protective order or a 50B order, can help protect you now and in the future. This legal tool provides vital protection by restricting the abuser's access to you and ensuring your well-being.

In this guide, our domestic violence attorneys will walk you through the process of obtaining a domestic violence restraining order in North Carolina. While the specific steps may vary depending on your county and situation, understanding the general procedures can help you navigate this challenging process more confidently.

Remember, your safety is paramount, so if you are in immediate danger or experiencing a life-threatening situation, contact local law enforcement or emergency services immediately.

What is Domestic Violence in NC? 

In North Carolina, domestic violence refers to a range of abusive behaviors that occur between individuals who are in certain types of relationships. 

These relationships include: 

  • Current or former spouses
  • Individuals who live or have lived together as spouses
  • Individuals who have a child in common
  • Individuals who are in or have been in a dating or intimate relationship

The term "domestic violence" encompasses various forms of abuse, including physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse, as well as stalking and harassment.

Physical Abuse

This involves any physical harm or violent behavior inflicted upon a victim, such as hitting, kicking, slapping, pushing, or using weapons. Physical abuse can cause injuries ranging from bruises and broken bones to more severe harm or even death.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse refers to any non-consensual sexual activity or coercive behavior, including rape, unwanted sexual contact, or forcing the victim to engage in sexual acts against their will. It also includes any sexual activity involving a person who is unable to provide consent due to age, disability, or incapacitation.

Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Emotional and psychological abuse includes actions or words that aim to degrade, belittle, control, or manipulate the victim. This can involve intimidation, humiliation, isolation, threats, constant criticism, and controlling behavior that undermines the victim's self-esteem and autonomy.

Stalking and Harassment

Stalking involves unwanted and repeated behaviors, such as following, monitoring, threatening, or intimidating a person, which causes the victim to fear for their safety or the safety of others. Harassment includes unwanted and intrusive actions, communication, or contact that causes distress or fear. If you are experiencing signs of stalking or harassment, contact authorities to keep a legal paper trail of these occurrences. 

Effects and Consequences of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence has profound effects and consequences on the individuals who experience it, as well as on their families and communities. These effects can be both immediate and long-lasting, impacting various aspects of a person's life. 

Here are some common effects and consequences of domestic violence:

  • Physical injuries
  • Emotional and psychological impacts like PTSD, anxiety, fear, depression, and other mental health concerns
  • Trauma such as nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance, and emotional distress
  • Social isolation from friends and family
  • Financial consequences
  • Impact on children
  • Increased risk of homicide
  • Long-term health effects

What is a Domestic Violence Restraining Order in NC? 

In North Carolina, a domestic violence restraining order is a legal document issued by a court to protect individuals who have experienced domestic violence. Also known as a protective order or a 50B order, it aims to provide safety and prevent further harm by placing specific restrictions on the abuser's behavior.

Eligibility for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

To obtain a domestic violence restraining order, the petitioner (the person seeking protection) must demonstrate that they have a specific relationship with the respondent (the alleged abuser). 

In order to obtain a restraining order under NCGS 50-B, the person you are seeking to restrain must fall into one of the following categories:

  • A spouse or ex-spouse
  • Persons of the opposite sex who are or have lived together
  • Have a child in common
  • Parent and child (or in loco parentis)
  • Grandparents and grandchildren
  • Persons of the opposite sex who are or have been in a dating relationship

Purpose and Protection

The restraining order's purpose is to protect the petitioner and any other eligible individuals from further acts of domestic violence. It aims to create a safe environment by ordering the respondent to refrain from specific actions that could cause harm or harassment.

Prohibited Actions

A domestic violence restraining order may include various provisions depending on the circumstances of the case. These provisions can prohibit the respondent from contacting, approaching, or threatening the petitioner, as well as entering their residence, workplace, or school. The order may also address issues related to child custody, visitation, and support.

Duration of the Order

Initially, a domestic violence restraining order is issued on a temporary basis, known as an ex parte order, which provides immediate protection before a hearing takes place. Subsequently, a hearing is scheduled to determine if a long-term order is warranted. If granted, the long-term order can remain in effect for up to one year, with the possibility of an extension upon request.

Violation of the Order

Violating the terms of a domestic violence restraining order is a criminal offense. If the respondent violates the order, they can face legal consequences, including arrest and prosecution. It is important for the petitioner to promptly report any violations to law enforcement.

Obtaining a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

To obtain a domestic violence restraining order, the petitioner must file the necessary paperwork with the court, provide evidence of the domestic violence incidents, and attend a hearing. Consulting with an attorney who specializes in domestic violence or family law is highly recommended to ensure a thorough and effective presentation of the case.

Steps for Obtaining a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

If you are in need of a domestic violence protective order, these are the steps to take to secure one: 

  1. Prepare a COMPLAINT AND MOTION FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROTECTIVE ORDER (AOC CV-303) by filling in the required information and describing the basis for the request.
  2. Prepare a Civil Summons which will be served on the Defendant along with a copy of the Complaint and Order. The summons explains to the Defendant that an action has been filed against them and that they have to respond to the appropriate Court.
  3. Take these documents to the county clerk of court, who will assist you in appearing before the local Judge or Magistrate dealing with requests for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders.
  4. The Judge will read your Complaint and may ask you a few simple questions. If you have grounds, the Judge will issue an Ex Parte Domestic Violence Restraining Order, which means the Defendant will be restrained from assaulting, threatening, or harassing you and most likely from contacting you until a subsequent hearing. "Ex-Parte" means an order entered without the presence of both parties, which is unusual based upon the Constitutional right of due process. When a Court enters an ex parte order, a return hearing will have to be scheduled within 10 days, so that the Defendant may be heard and the Plaintiff will be required to prove their case based upon a preponderance of the evidence. The return hearing date will be assigned, and a Notice of that hearing date is included in the Order for the parties.
  5. You will receive a copy of your Order, and the local Sheriff's office will attempt to serve the Defendant with the Complaint, Summons, and Order.

Understanding The Return Hearing for a DV Restraining Order 

If you are granted an ex-parte restraining order, there will be a return hearing scheduled within 10 days, at that hearing you will have to prove the allegations you made in your complaint. You will need to bring any witnesses, photographic or medical evidence, and be prepared to discuss what happened.

Restraining Orders are civil matters, so your burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence rather than beyond a reasonable doubt. The preponderance of the evidence means the greater weight of the evidence, which is an easier burden to meet. Many restraining orders are granted based upon “he-said-she-said” evidence because one party was deemed more credible.

Duration of Order and Renewing Orders

A Domestic Violence Protective Order can be entered for up to one year. The order may be renewed for good cause prior to the expiration of the one year upon motion of the Plaintiff for up to two additional years. Temporary Child Custody Orders entered in domestic violence actions may not be renewed however and they will expire in one year. A standard custody action under NCGS 50-B would be needed prior to the expiration of the initial restraining order.

Child Custody in Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

The law allows you to make a claim for and obtain temporary emergency custody in a claim for domestic violence. You would have to fill out an additional form with your complaint. In order to include the children in a protective order, it would be necessary to show some relationship between the act of domestic violence and the children, such as the children being present at the time of an assault, a threat of suicide which is always deemed to warrant protection or some other grounds. A custody order entered in a domestic violence protective order will be temporary, and it can and will be superseded by any regular custody order obtained under NCGS Chapter 50.

Resources for Victims of Domestic Violence 

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, it is important to seek help and support. 

Here are some resources available to victims of domestic violence in the United States:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline:
    • Phone: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
    • Website:
    • Provides 24/7 confidential support, information, and resources for victims of domestic violence. They can help with safety planning, crisis intervention, and connecting individuals to local resources and shelters.
  • National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV):
    • Website:
    • Offers information, resources, and support for individuals affected by domestic violence. They provide educational materials, safety planning resources, and assistance in finding local support services.
  • Local Domestic Violence Shelters and Advocacy Organizations: Many communities have local organizations dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence. These organizations often provide shelter, counseling, legal assistance, support groups, and other services. Search online or contact your local authorities for information about resources available in your area.
  • Legal Aid or Legal Services Organizations: Legal aid or legal services organizations provide free or low-cost legal assistance to individuals who cannot afford private legal representation. They can help victims with obtaining protective orders, child custody matters, and other legal issues related to domestic violence.
  • Counseling and Therapy: Seeking therapy or counseling can be beneficial for survivors of domestic violence. Mental health professionals can provide support, help with healing from trauma, and assist in developing coping strategies.
  • Law Enforcement: If you are in immediate danger or facing an emergency situation, call 911 or your local emergency services. Law enforcement can intervene and provide immediate assistance.
  • Support from Friends and Family: Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or other support networks. They can offer emotional support, assist with safety planning, and help connect you with available resources.

Remember, it is essential to prioritize your safety. If you are in immediate danger, remove yourself from the situation and contact emergency services. These resources can provide guidance, support, and assistance in navigating the process of escaping domestic violence and rebuilding your life. You do not have to face domestic violence alone– help is available.

Contact Our Raleigh Attorneys for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Today! 

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence in Raleigh, NC, it is crucial to take immediate action to ensure your safety and well-being. Our family law attorneys at the Doyle Law Firm are committed to helping individuals escape abusive situations by providing the necessary legal support to obtain a domestic violence restraining order.

We understand the sensitive nature of domestic violence cases and the urgency required to protect victims from further harm. By contacting our firm, you gain access to compassionate and skilled legal professionals who will guide you through the process of obtaining a domestic violence restraining order.

Contact us today by calling  (919) 301-8843 or filling out the form below to get started.

Disclaimer: Your privacy is our primary concern. At the Doyle Law Group, we understand the importance of protecting your privacy and will never share your contact information with a 3rd party. Contacting our law firm does not imply any form of attorney-client relationship. The content above is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or legal counsel. If you wish to speak to a family law attorney or divorce lawyer, contact the Doyle Divorce Law Group immediately. Our family attorneys and divorce lawyers represent clients in Raleigh and surrounding areas, throughout North Carolina, the Triangle, and beyond.

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