Restraining Orders and Protective Orders for Domestic Violence Victims in NC

When you are a victim of domestic violence and want to seek protection from your abuser, you may want to learn how you can get a restraining order. “Restraining order” is the most commonly used term to describe a court order commanding someone to keep his or her distance from you.

In North Carolina, however, a “Restraining Order” has a specific meaning that doesn’t really have a lot to do with domestic violence or with keeping someone dangerous away from you. Instead, what you are going to need to get to keep your abuser from approaching you is called a “Protective Order.”

There are actually two kinds of protective orders available to victims of domestic abuse in North Carolina.

The first kind is an “Ex parte” or “Temporary” protective order (TPO). In an emergency situation, a TPO can be granted as soon as you file a complaint for a protective order. In other cases, the court will hear and make a decision on the request for the TPO within 72 hours.

The second kind of protection is called a “Domestic Violence Protective Order,” or a DVPO or 50B Order. This order is more permanent. It can last for up to one year. It is granted only after a full hearing. Here is a copy of the DVPO Form.

Getting either a TPO or a DVPO is a civil process. This means you actually need to go to the court and ask the court for the order, and you have the responsibility of explaining or showing why you need this type of protection. Once the TPO or DVPO goes into effect, a violation of the protective order can lead to criminal sanctions.

Steps to Obtain a North Carolina Protective Order

Defining Domestic Violence

In North Carolina, domestic violence (for the purpose of obtaining a DVPO) occurs when you’ve had a “personal relationship” with someone who does any of the following to you or your minor child:

  • attempts to cause bodily injury, or intentionally causes bodily injury; or
  • places you or a member of your family or household in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
  • or conducts continued harassment, that rises to such a level as to inflict substantial emotional distress; or
  • commits any rape or sexual offense.

If you have not had a “personal relationship” with your abuser, harasser or stalker, you may be eligible for a protective order against stalking or harassment.

A “personal relationship” includes:

  • current or former spouses;
  • persons of opposite sex who live together or have lived together;
  • those related as parents and children, including others acting in loco parentis to a minor child, or as grandparents and grandchildren.
  • those who ave a child in common;
  • current or former household members;
  • persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been in a dating relationship (meaning they have been romantically involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship.

NCGS Sec. 50B-1

Civil No-Contact Order

A Civil No-Contact Order is for someone that is being, or has been, stalked or sexually assaulted by a person with whom they have no pre-existing relationship. It is not intended for disagreements or disputes between neighbors, friends, acquaintances, or co-workers unless they have sexually assaulted or are stalking you.

A judge can order the abuser or stalker to stop all non-consensual sexual conduct, to stop stalking you and to stay away from you. You may receive a temporary order, which will last until you can have a full court hearing (usually within 10 days) and then a permanent order, which will last up to one year.

NCGS Sec. 50C-1

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