Domestic Protective Order

Information on Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence is defined as:

  • Attempting to cause bodily injury, or
  • Intentionally causing bodily injury, or
  • Placing the party seeking the order (the victim/plaintiff) or a member of the victim's family or household in fear of imminent serious bodily injury, or
  • Committing, or attempting to commit, rape, a sexual offense or a
  • Sexual offense with a minor child living in the household

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior that occurs between family members or intimate partners. It is against the law for your spouse or boy/girlfriend to cause physical and/or emotional harm. Physical abuse is slapping, hitting, grabbing, pushing, choking, kicking, wrestling, hair pulling, punching or any other act that causes injury. Abuse can also be considered to be a threat to do any of these things to you and put you in danger of serious injury.

What the Protective Order Is

You can go to court without a lawyer and ask the judge for a Domestic Violence Order. A Domestic Violence Order is also called a restraining order. The type of order issued depends on the length of time it is issued for. For example:

  • A Domestic Violence Order and Notice of Hearing (ex parte) is an order issued by a district court judge or a designated magistrate ordering that the defendant follow the provisions listed on the order. [A hearing date is set for the defendant to appear and testify against the complaint and motion of the plaintiff. It is a misdemeanor to violate any of the provisions of the order. The Sheriff will serve and carry out the judge's orders. All North Carolina law enforcement officers must enforce the order.] This order is effective for ten days or until the court hearing. 
  • A Domestic Violence Protective Order (one year order) is an order issued by a district court judge at a Domestic Violence hearing effective for one year. [Most one year orders are orders that both parties have consented to and ask the court to enforce. The Sheriff will serve a copy and carry out the judge's orders. The order is effective for one year from the date issued. The plaintiff must file a motion to continue the order each year. 
  • A Temporary Restraining Order is an order issued by a judge restraining a person or company from certain actions. This paper is usually issued in civil court as a pre-judgement remedy or after a judge has been informed that the plaintiff's interest may be damaged without the order being issued. 

You, as the plaintiff, can apply for a Protective Order against the defendant.

What the Protective Order Does

A Protective Order may do more than just protect you or your children. A Domestic Violence Protective Order may:

  • Order the defendant not to assault, threaten, abuse, follow, harass or interfere with you and your children either in person or on the phone;
  • Allow you to live in the home where you and he/she have lived together and order him/her to move out and not return to the home;
  • Give you possession of personal property such as clothing and household goods except for his personal clothing, toiletries and tools of trade;
  • Give you possession and use of the car;
  • Order the defendant to stay away from your home, your workplace, your school, the children's school and/or daycare, or any place where you are seeking shelter;
  • Give you temporary custody of the minor children and order him/her to pay child support;
  • Prohibit the defendant from possessing or purchasing a firearm;
  • Direct the defendant to attend an abuser treatment program;
  • Require the defendant to provide you and your children with suitable alternate housing;
  • Require the defendant to pay your attorney’s fees;
  • Tell the police or sheriff's department to remove him/her from the home and help you return to the home

An ex parte order could be issued before a notice of a hearing is given to the defendant because of the danger of acts of domestic violence against you or your children.

When to See a Lawyer

You should see a lawyer if:

  • You think the defendant will hire a lawyer; or
  • You think the defendant will try to get custody of the children.
  • If you have difficulty understanding or need additional information or assistance, call your nearest legal service agent or your local battered women's program.