To get a restraining order in North Carolina, you’ll need to file paperwork with the clerk of court, meet with a judge, attend a hearing, and agree to the restraining order. If the defendant doesn’t consent to the restraining order, you’ll need to go to trial and show evidence that domestic violence has been committed. An attorney can represent your interests at trial, or can help both parties reach an agreement without going to trial.
Understanding restraining orders in North Carolina
A restraining order, officially known as a domestic violence protective order (or DVPO) is an order from the North Carolina court that requires someone committing domestic violence to stay physically away from their victim.
Once a restraining order is issued, police are able to arrest perpetrators of domestic violence for being in violation of the order by being in proximity to their victims.
Restraining orders typically last for one year in North Carolina, but can be renewed.
Qualifying for a restraining order
Many people think restraining orders are exclusively for spouses or ex-spouses.
In fact, you can file for a restraining order against the following:
- A parent
- A grandparent
- A child or grandchild
- The parent of your child
- Someone who lived in your household
- Someone you’ve had a dating relationship with
You’ll need to be able to show that the defendant engaged in domestic violence, including physical injury, sexual assault, fear of imminent serious bodily harm, or causing substantial emotional distress through harassment.
How to get a restraining order in NC
1. Fill out paperwork and give to the clerk of court
If you meet the qualifications for a restraining order in North Carolina, you’ll need to fill out the Domestic Violence Protective Order paperwork and give it to the clerk of court.
In many counties in North Carolina, this needs to be done in person. There are some counties where you may be able to meet with the judge via videoconference. Your attorney or local domestic violence agency can guide you here.
2. Speak with a judge
From there, a judge will have a conversation with you about the violence, assault, or harassment involved in your case.
If the judge decides your situation meets the criteria for a restraining order, they will issue a temporary restraining order. They will also set a date for a hearing.
3. Serve the defendant
The sheriff’s department will then serve the defendant with the DVPO paperwork.
Only once that has happened can a hearing take place in order for the judge to issue a fuller one-year protective order.
If the sheriff isn’t able to serve the defendant by the initial hearing date, the hearing will be rescheduled for a later date.
4. Attend a hearing
After the defendant is served, you and the defendant will both meet with the judge in court.
If both parties agree to the restraining order, it will be issued. The plaintiff, defendant, and judge will all sign the order and no trial is necessary.
If the defendant doesn’t agree, then a trial will be held. Each side will present evidence to help the judge determine if domestic violence did indeed happen.
At this stage, it makes sense to work with an attorney on resolving your restraining order. An attorney can help each side negotiate and come to a mutually acceptable agreement without going to court.
5. Agree to the restraining order
After all parties agree with the restraining order, or after a trial is held to decide the matter, the judge will issue a one-year restraining order.
After one year, you can request to renew the restraining order. If the judge agrees, they can renew the order for up to two years.
What does a North Carolina restraining order include?
A North Carolina restraining order (or DVPO) normally requires:
- No contact with the plaintiff (mail, phone, email, in person, etc)
- Staying away from plaintiff’s home, school, and place of work
The judge may set a limit requiring the defendant to stay a certain distance away from the defendant (for example, 100 feet or 500 feet).
Need help with a North Carolina restraining order?
The law firm of Blackwell & Edwards is here to make sure your interests are represented in Fayetteville, NC and throughout Cumberland County.
Contact us today for a consultation.