Domestic violence is a crime, and one that often comes with feelings of shame and guilt. The law in North Carolina is designed to provide protection to survivors of domestic violence.
Under the law, anyone who causes or attempts to cause bodily harm to a present or former spouse, household member, boyfriend or girlfriend, child, parent, or grandparent, is guilty of domestic violence. If you have suffered domestic violence, you may seek a protective order against the abuser.
In order to do so, it is best to speak with a domestic violence victim’s advocate first about filing the forms. Forms to file such documents can be obtained at any courthouse. Once your complaint is filed, the court may issue a temporary order without a hearing which will be in effect until the hearing can take place and the court can make a final decision.
In your complaint, you must allege specific facts about your relationship and the abuse you have suffered. A hearing will then be held within ten days of the issuance of the temporary order, where you will need to testify. You may call other witnesses to support your claim, and the respondent may do so as well.
In addition to ordering your abuser to stay away from you, a protection order can also direct them not to harass you or your children; grant you possession of your residence; grant you possession of your personal property or vehicles; and allocate custody, visitation and child support between you and your abuser. The abuser might also be ordered to attend an abuser treatment program. If there are other things you think the court should order the abuser to do or not do, you should request those when you file your complaint.
Once a protective order is issued, it will last for a year; however, you may return to court before the time is up and ask that it be extended. You should also make sure that your local police department, as well as your children’s schools, have a copy of the protection order.
Finally, make sure that you have a safety plan in place. While it can be helpful to have a protection order, remember that it is just a piece of paper and you must do all you can to maximize your safety.
Attorney Jonathan Meek has experience representing victims of domestic violence. Call him today for a consultation to discuss how you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
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