I’m scared of my girlfriend; how do I get her out of the house?
A domestic violence protective order may be your best option. We typically refer to these as DVPOs and they can do a number of things: remove someone from a residence, compel no contact and prohibit “assaulting, threatening, or harassing,” even friends and families.
How do I get a restraining order against my boyfriend?
The first thing to consider is whether you need one. Are you scared of your boyfriend? Has he already harmed you, is he threatening to harm you and/or is he harassing you? Are you scared for the safety of other family members, like a child? If the answer is yes, your first step is to complete a 50B form. These are available at the Courthouse and we’ll put a link to one below.
You must be able to show a few things:
First, there must be a certain type of relationship: current or former spouse, related as parents and children, current or former household members, or persons of the opposite sex in a dating relationship. If you are in a same-sex relationship and you NEVER lived together, you would need to apply for a protective order under 50B. Other relationships that do not qualify are neighbors, co-workers, employers, and employees, or ex’s new spouse.
Next, the judge must find that one of the following happened:
- Bodily injury or an attempt to cause bodily injury to the person making the request
- Caused fear of imminent serious bodily injury to the person making the request or to a family member.
- Caused the person making the request or a family member of that person to fear continued harassment that rises to a level that would inflict substantial emotional distress. What that is is defined in another section of the law, NCGS §14-277.3
- Or committed any act defined by NCGS §14-27.2 through 14-27.7, which all deal with sexual assault and rape charges.
These acts need to have occurred “recently” meaning that the longer you wait to request a DVPO, the harder it may be to get it.
The violence did not have to happen in North Carolina.
The judge must determine that it was more likely than not that the violence happened and that the person requesting the DVPO was in fear (the fear does not need to be reasonable).
Once you complete the form, you take it to the Court to file it. They will schedule you IMMEDIATELY for an ex parte hearing. Ex parte means that the other party, in this case, your boyfriend, will not be there to defend himself. Whenever a judge is restricting the rights of someone, they are very cautious and even more so when the person is not there to say anything. For that reason, a 2nd hearing is scheduled on the issue to happen within 7-10 days. We call this the 10 Day Hearing. At this point, the other party has the right to be there and the Judge decides whether to extend the protective order for up to a year.
Can I protect my children with a Domestic Violence Protective Order?
The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that it depends. First, you should consider if a Domestic Violence Protective Order, or DVPO, is appropriate. If you believe that your situation is one where you and/or your children are in substantial risk of harm the next step is to determine what kind of protection your children need. The Court considers several things in determining custody issues through a DVPO:
- The best interest of the child, particularly in consideration of the child’s safety;
- Whether the child was exposed to a substantial risk of physical or emotional injury or sexual abuse;
- Whether the child was present during acts of domestic violence;
- Whether a weapon was used or threatened to be used;
- Whether the party caused or attempted to cause serious bodily injury to the moving party or minor child;
- Whether the party placed the aggrieved party or minor child in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
- Whether a party caused an aggrieved party to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat, or duress.
- Whether there is a pattern of abuse against an aggrieved party or minor child;
- Whether a party has abused or endangered a minor child during visitation;
- Whether a party has improperly concealed or detained the minor child;
- Whether a party has otherwise acted in a manner not in the interest of the minor child.
If the Court makes a custody determination, it will also consider whether visitation is in the best interest of the minor child. The Court will consider the safety of the child and may order the following:
- That the child be exchanged in a protected setting or in the presence of an appropriate third party;
- That visitation be supervised;
- That the noncustodial parent attend, and complete, an abuser treatment program;
- That either or both parents abstain from any alcohol within 24 hours preceding an exchange of the minor child;
- That the noncustodial parent pay the cost of supervised visitation;
- Prohibiting overnight visitation;
- Requiring a bond from the noncustodial parent for the return and safety of the minor child; and
- Any other condition deemed necessary for the child’s safety.
What does a domestic violence protective order (DVPO) do?
Domestic Violence Protective Orders, also known as DVPOs, can be narrow or broad. This means that the Order should be carefully read to understand what exactly it means. A DVPO can:
- Direct a person to stop doing certain things. These things may include Threatening, abusing or following someone; Harassing, including by telephone, in person or visits to the work place; Cruelly treating or abusing an animal owned or kept as a pet; and Otherwise interfering with the party.
- Give one person possession of the residence and exclude another person; Require a party to provide a spouse and children with suitable alternative housing;
- Award temporary custody of minor children and establish temporary visitation rights;
- Order child support payments;
- Order spousal support payments;
- Provide for the possession of personal property, including pets;
- Award attorney’s fees;
- Prohibit the purchase of a firearm;
- Order attendance to an abuser treatment program; and
- Anything else the court deems necessary to protect someone.