Domestic violence is far more common than we know. It is a problem that affects people regardless of race, gender, sexuality or socioeconomic status. If you or someone you love is being abused, it is important to come forward to seek help.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is causing, or attempting to cause, bodily injury to the victim. It can also be placing the victim in fear of imminent, serious bodily injury. This may include continued harassment if it causes severe emotional distress.
It is important to remember that domestic violence can only occur between people who have a current or former relationship. This includes spouses, household members, parent/ child or boyfriend/ girlfriend.
What to do if you are a victim of domestic violence
Your safety is the biggest priority—get yourself to safety and call 911. If you do not have a safe place, you can seek help at a shelter.
From there, you have the option of seeking a restraining order and/ or filing criminal charges. Criminal charges are recommended because the criminal system has some procedures in place that the civil system does not, like probation and violent offender programs. If the abuser is found guilty at trial, then the terms and conditions of his or her sentence depend on various factors including what crimes the abuser has committed against you and prior offenses
How does domestic violence effect custody and child support?
It is rare for those issues to be handled in the civil domestic violence process of getting a restraining order. Many judges prefer that issues of child support and custody be handled in a separate action. You will need to file a separate complaint seeking custody and child support.
What about alimony and property division?
The judge in your domestic violence can only deal with these issues on a very limited basis, such as addressing temporary distribution of vehicles and the home. Many judges prefer that these issues be handled in a separate action. You will need to file a separate complaint alimony and equitable division.
Domestic violence proceedings can be confusing and time consuming, especially when dealing with other family law issues. Contact Adkins Law today to set up a consultation and decide your next steps.
Below is the process of filing for a restraining order also known as a Domestic Violence Protective Order or a Civil No-Contact Order.
1. Go to the courthouse:
Go to the office of the clerk of civil court or the magistrate’s office. Tell them you need to file for a restraining order, protective order, DVPO or Civil No-Contact Order. They should make sure you get the forms you need.
2. Fill out the complaint in detail:
(Do not sign it until you are before a notary or clerk of court)
Just remember: you are the plaintiff and the abuser is the defendant.
When filing out the paperwork be sure to provide a brief but complete summary of the most recent abuse you have suffered make sure to use specifics and details. Provide the dates that the incident(s) occurred.
The key is to give a clear picture of the abuse to the judge who will decide your case. You also want the judge to know what relief you are seeking.
3. Fill out the summons:
In addition to being served the complaint, your abuser will need to be served summons to appear in court. Try to include the abuser’s name, address and other contact information in the paperwork, if known. The sheriff’s office will serve the complaint and summons on the abuser. The sheriff’s office also will serve the notice of hearing and a copy of the temporary protective order.
You can help the sheriff’s office by filling out a form that identifies your abuser. This identification can include:
(Physical characteristics (height, weight, hair color, eye color),Driver’s license number, Social Security number, and/or Employment address)
You will also need to list your name and a safe mailing address and phone number.
Because the sheriff serves the abuser, you do not need to have contact with him/her. If the sheriff’s office cannot serve your abuser on time, your hearing will be rescheduled.
4. Seek a temporary protective order:
At the time you fill out the complaint and summons, you can also seek an ex parte/temporary protective order. This means that the abuser does not need to be present for a hearing. You can request it by checking a box on your complaint form. Then you go before a judge and explain why you or your children are in immediate danger and why this order is needed.
This is an emergency order.
Once it is granted, it takes effect immediately and typically lasts 10 days (which just the right amount of time for you to pursue a permanent order).
Keep this order with you at all times. Leave copies with your employer, your child’s school or daycare, and everywhere else you or your children can be found during a typical day.
5. Attend the hearing:
When you file the complaint/summons, you will be given a date and time for the hearing on your order. Your abuser will receive a notice of the hearing with this information.
You must attend the hearing. Your abuser has a right to attend as well. If the abuser does not attend, the court may proceed or elect to reschedule the hearing. You should have an attorney representing you at this hearing. At the hearing, you will need to show the court that the abuser has committed an act of domestic violence, stalking or nonconsensual sexual conduct. If the court finds that this has occurred, the court must grant the order
If you are in need of representation for your hearing, Adkins Law can help you. Christopher Adkins and Sarah Bennett are attorney's in the Lake Norman area that specialize in Family Law and can help you. Call our office today to set up a consultation with one of our attorney's.
Domestic violence is attempting to cause or intentionally causing bodily injury or placing the victim in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Continued harassment can constitute domestic violence if it causes substantial emotional distress. There needs to be a current or former relationship between the victim and abuser such as spouses, parent / child, household members, or boyfriend / girlfriend.
You have to file a complaint (lawsuit) seeking a Domestic Violence Protective Order (otherwise known as a restraining order or as a "50B"). If it is at night or on the weekend, you do this through the magistrate's office. If it is during the week, you do it through the civil clerk of court. In the complaint, you set out the details of the act of violence or threat of violence that caused you to seek the Domestic Violence Protective Order. You will then appear before the judge or magistrate to describe what happened. If the judge or magistrate determines you are entitled to an emergency Ex Parte Protective Order, it will be issued at that time. Your abuser is not notified of or present for the emergency hearing. The emergency order is valid until there can be a hearing on the issue - at that hearing, the abuser will be present and have the opportunity to put on a defense. This hearing is normally held within 10 days. If the judge determines at the full hearing that you are entitled to a Domestic Violence Protective Order, one will be issued. This order will be valid for one year, but may be renewed at the end of one year for an additional time of up to two years.
Many people contact our office and ask what legal options do they have in the event their spouse does, or has, become abusive. Domestic violence is a serious issue that is not taken lightly in North Carolina. On the criminal side of the house, assault on a female and driving while impaired are likely the two most serious misdemeanors in North Carolina. Civilly speaking, if you are or have been in a relationship with domestic violence, you may seek protection by filing for a domestic violence protective order. If granted, you may receive immediate protection for a period of approximately 10 days without providing notice to the other party. At the end of that period of protection, you may seek that the order remain in place for a one-year period. During that time, the abuser may not come near you, contact you, nor may they contact your workplace, friends, or family. If they do, they will be arrested and prosecuted criminally.
At Adkins Law, we believe in providing top-notch, quality legal services at affordable prices. If you need to speak with an attorney regarding a family law matter, traffic citation or issue, or for your estate planning needs, contact Adkins Law to arrange a consultation. Adkins Law has offices in Huntersville and Ballantyne for your convenience.
In North Carolina, you may seek a domestic violence protective order (DVPO) when someone you have or had a personal relationship with does one of the following:
(1) Attempts to cause bodily injury, or intentionally causes bodily injury; (2) Places you or a member of your family or household in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; (3) Continued harassment that rises to such a level as to inflict substantial emotional distress; OR (4) Commits rape or a sexual offense.
Someone you have or had a “personal relationship” with includes:
(1) Your spouse, or ex-spouse; (2) A person of the opposite sex with whom you live or used to live; (3) Someone you are related to, including parents, grandparents and grandchildren, over the age of sixteen; (4) Someone with whom you have a child in common; (5) A current or former household member; OR (6) Someone of the opposite sex whom you are dating or have dated.
There are two types of DVPOs: (1) An ex parte temporary protective order; and (2) A final domestic violence protective order. An ex parte temporary protective order is designed to provide you and your family with immediate protection. If a judge believes there is a serious and immediate danger to you or your family, an ex parte order may be issued, which will protect you until the court hearing on the final domestic violence protective order. This usually lasts for ten days, but can, on occasion, be continued to last longer.
A final domestic violence protective order, also called a DVPO or a 50B, lasts up to one year. During this year, the abuser may not assault, threaten, abuse, follow, harass, or interfere with you. A DVPO may also grant you sole access to your home, possessions, pets, custody of your children, and spousal support. Once the one-year period is over, you may ask the court to extend the order for an additional year.
DVPOs are powerful tools that can be used to protect you and your family from domestic violence. They may, however, also be used as a tool to get you out of the marital home and as leverage in a child custody dispute. Occasionally, a spouse will make false allegations of abuse in the hopes of being granted sole possession of the marital home and property, and custody of any minor children. While these situations are rare, you still must prepare and defend yourself against the allegations.
If you would like to speak with a domestic attorney concerning obtaining or defending against a DVPO, please contact Adkins Law. Adkins Law is located in Huntersville, North Carolina and primarily serves Mecklenburg County and the Lake Norman area.