How to File a Restraining Order in North Carolina: A Six-Step Process, Protective Order

If you are facing verbal, physical or sexual abuse from a spouse, parent, child, dating partner or acquaintance, you can put an end to it. An important step to make this happen may be obtaining a restraining order. Though many commonly use the term “restraining order,” in North Carolina, this is technically called a Domestic Violence Protective Order or a Civil No-Contact Order.

Process of Filing a Restraining Order in North Carolina

Although you can file for a protective order on your own, having an experienced family law attorney on your side can make the process much easier. The compassionate and knowledgeable domestic violence attorneys at Charles R. Ullman & Associates in Raleigh have decades of experience helping survivors get protection from their abusers. Charles R. Ullman is committed to protecting the rights of people who are suffering at the hands of supposed “loved ones,” and he is board-certified by the North Carolina Bar as a specialist in family law.

To learn more about how to file a restraining order in North Carolina, schedule a confidential consultation with us today by calling or filling out our online form.

Who Can File a Restraining Order in North Carolina?

There are two types of protective orders that our attorneys commonly help clients with, and the type you file will depend on the circumstances of your case.

If you have a personal relationship with the abuser, such as a domestic partner or a family member, you can file for a Domestic Violence Protective Order, also known as a 50B order or DVPO (Updated in 2022), a copy of one can be found here.

  • These orders can require that the abuser move out of your joint home or pay for other housing for you.
  • They can give you temporary custody of your children and pets, as well as require temporary child support and spousal support.
  • These orders can prevent your abuser from engaging in certain actions, such as threatening you, coming within a certain distance of you or purchasing a firearm.
  • A DVPO could also require the abuser to undergo counseling and treatment.

In this type of case, a judge may also order the abuser to pay your attorneys’ fees. To learn more about how to file a restraining order in North Carolina, contact the dedicated Raleigh domestic violence attorneys at Charles R. Ullman & Associates today.

What Do You Have to Prove to Get a Protective Order?

a woman placing her left hand on a stop or restrain actionYou can likely get a temporary protective order, called an ex parte order, very quickly by filling out a complaint. This order can last up to 10 days, after which you will need to go to court to seek a permanent order.

To obtain a permanent protective order, you will need to show the person committed one of the following:

  • An act of domestic violence
  • Non consensual sexual conduct
  • Stalking

If you are not sure what type of evidence you will need to show to get a restraining order, please schedule a time to talk with one of our experienced attorneys about your case.

How Much Does It Cost to File for a Restraining Order in North Carolina?

There are no filing fees for requesting a protective order, and you are not required to have an attorney. However, the process of obtaining a protective order does require you to fill out legal documents in as much detail as possible. You will also need to attend a court hearing, where you will have to show that the defendant (or the person you are filing the order against) has committed acts that warrant the protective order.

Filing for a restraining order is an emotionally charged and sometimes scary process for people. So having an experienced and compassionate family law attorney on your side can take some of the pressure off you, knowing that all the paperwork is properly handled and you have a skilled professional presenting your case in court.

If you have questions about how to file a restraining order or need legal advice on what to do in your case, please contact us today.

Six Easy Steps To File a Restraining Order

The process of filing for a Domestic Violence Protective Order or a Civil No-Contact Order can be broken down into six general steps. If you need help at any point in this process, please contact Charles R. Ullman & Associates to speak with an experienced family law attorney.

1. Go to the courthouse and get the forms you need. You can find a list of county courthouses on N.C. Administrative Office of the Court’s website.

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. You can also tell the office that you need to file for an emergency ex parte/temporary protective order.

You will find that deputy clerks and assistant clerks are helpful. They should make sure you get the forms you need. You can also download the DVPO or the Civil No-Contact Order complaint forms ahead of time.

2. Fill out the complaint in detail, but do not sign it until you are before a notary public or clerk of court. Note that this is a civil complaint, you are the plaintiff and the abuser is the defendant.

Provide a brief but complete summary of the most recent abuse you have suffered. Use specific language and details. For instance, state whether you were grabbed, punched, kicked or threatened with violent gestures or language. Provide dates. Make sure to state, to your knowledge, whether your abuser owns or possesses any firearms.

The key is to give a clear and concrete picture of the abuse to the judge who will decide your case. You also want the judge to know the relief you are seeking. If children are involved, make sure to request temporary custody.

3. Fill out the summons and help the sheriff’s office identify your abuser. In addition to being served the complaint, your abuser will need to be served a civil summons to appear in court. If you have it, you must include the abuser’s name, address and other contact information in the summons.

The county 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 ex parte/temporary protective order (more on this below).

You can help the sheriff’s office by filling out a form that identifies your abuser. This identification can include:

  • Physical characteristics (height, weight, race, hair color, eye color)
  • Driver’s license number
  • Social Security number
  • Employment address
  • Permit to carry a firearm. You will also need to list your name and a safe mailing address and phone number. If you are staying at a shelter, you can use the shelter’s address and number. Because the sheriff’s office serves the abuser, you do not need to have contact with him or her. If the sheriff’s office cannot serve your abuser on time, your hearing will be rescheduled.

4. Seek an ex parte/temporary protective order. At the time you fill out the complaint and summons, you can also seek an ex parte/temporary protective order. “Ex parte” means “without the other party.” This means that you can obtain this order without the abuser being present for a hearing.

You can request it by checking a box on your complaint form. You then go before a judge and explain why you or your children are in immediate danger and why this order is needed. (If no judge is available that day, you can see the judge the next day court is in session.)

This is an emergency order. Once it is granted, it takes effect immediately and typically lasts 10 days (enough 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 and summons, you will be given a date and time for the hearing on your protective order. Your abuser will receive a notice of the hearing with this information. The hearing date will be within 10 days of the filing of your complaint.

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. If you need extra time to obtain one, you can ask the court for a 10-day extension (or continuance) by showing good cause.

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 (as defined by North Carolina law). If the court finds that this has occurred, the court must grant the order.

If you fail to attend the hearing, your ex parte order will expire. If you still wish to pursue a restraining order, you will need to file a new complaint and summons.

6. Extend or renew the order (if needed). A protective order lasts for one year from the date it is granted. However, you can seek an extension (or renewal) of the order.

If you believe renewal is needed, you can follow steps 1-5 above.

Our Domestic Violence Attorneys Are Here to Help

If you or a loved one needs help getting a restraining order, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our compassionate and resourceful family law attorneys are committed to getting people out of dangerous situations and helping them move forward with their lives.


Charles Ullman & Associates provides you respected, experienced and knowledgeable divorce and family law attorneys. You can trust us to help you through the legal process efficiently and effectively so you can transition to the next phase of your life. Our community involvement reaches beyond charitable support of important causes. We launched our own movement in Fraternities4Family and provide scholarships to able students in need.

Process of Filing a Restraining Order in North Carolina
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