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Domestic Violence Protective Order

What is a domestic violence protective order (DVPO)?

A domestic violence protective order (DVPO) is also called a restraining order, or a 50B. It is a paper which is signed by a judge and tells your abuser to stop the abuse or face serious legal consequences. It offers civil legal protection from domestic violence to both women and men victims.

What types of protective orders are there? How long do they last?

In NC, there are two types of domestic violence protective orders: Ex parte/Temporary protective orders and final domestic violence protective orders (also called a DVPO or a 50B order or a restraining order).

Ex parte/Temporary Protective Orders

An ex parte/temporary protective order is a court order designed to provide you and your family members with immediate protection from your abuser. A judge may issue an ex parte order on the same day you file your complaint for a domestic violence protective order if they believe that there is a serious and immediate danger to you or your child. If the judge does not issue the ex parte order on the same day, the court must hear the request for an ex parte order within 72 hours or by the end of the next day on which the court is in session in the county of the filing (whichever occurs first). An ex parte/temporary protective order is usually issued without your abuser present ("ex parte").

Final Domestic Violence Protective Orders (DVPO, 50B, Restraining Orders)

In order to get a final domestic violence protective order, you need to have a full court hearing. Your abuser has to be served with a notice of the hearing so they have an opportunity to attend. An ex parte/temporary protective order will protect you from the time the ex parte order is entered until your full court hearing takes place, usually within 10 days from when the order is granted or within 7 days from the date the respondent is served, (whichever occurs later*). However, the ex parte order cannot be enforced until the defendant is served with a copy of the order.

A final domestic violence protective order (also called a DVPO or a 50B order or restraining order) offers the same type of protection as an ex parte/temporary protective order, but it lasts longer. Since it lasts longer, you will have to have a full court hearing to get a final domestic violence protective order. In this hearing, the abuser will have a chance to defend himself/herself.

A final domestic violence protective order lasts up to one year. You can ask the court to extend the order for an additional two years (with the exception of the custody provisions), but you must do so before it expires.** (See: How do I modify or extend my order?)

Note: If you have not had a "personal relationship" with the abuser, harasser or stalker, you may be eligible for a protective order against stalking or sexual harassment (50C).

How can a domestic violence protective order (DVPO) help me?

A DVPO can:

  • Order the abuser not to assault, threaten, abuse, follow, harass, or interfere with you and your children in person, at work, on the telephone, or by other means;
  • Allow you to live in the home where you and the abuser have lived together and order the abuser to move out and not return, no matter who owns the home or is on the lease;
  • Order the abuser to provide suitable alternative housing for you;
  • Tell the police to remove the abuser from the home and help you to return to the home;
  • Give you possession of personal property including a car and household goods, except for the abuser's personal belongings;
  • Order the abuser to stay away from any place you request including your school, your children's school, your work place, your friends' homes, or any place where you are seeking shelter;
  • Order the abuser not to harm your pet;
  • Give you possession of your pet;
  • Give you temporary custody of a minor child, order the abuser to pay temporary child support, and establish temporary visitation (custody, child support, and visitation only apply if the abuser is the parent of the child);
  • Order your spouse to pay temporary spousal support;
  • Order the abuser to hand over any firearms and prohibit the abuser from purchasing a firearm;
  • Order the abuser to attend an abuser's treatment program;
  • Order the abuser to pay attorney's fees; and/or
  • Order the abuser to do anything else you ask for and the judge agrees to.*

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

In which county can I file for an order of protection?

You can file a petition in the county where you live (permanently or temporarily), or in the county where the abuser lives.

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For more information or assistance on obtaining Domestic Violence Protective Orders please contact OASIS