A Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) is a restraining order that is made to protect a victim of domestic violence and/or the victim’s children from the abuser.  If the DVPO is granted, the abuser can be ordered to leave the home.  While a DVPO is a civil order, if the abuser returns to the home without the court’s permission, they will be arrested and face criminal charges.

Getting a DVPO usually happens in two phases (1) the ex parte order; and (2) the temporary order that lasts up to a year.  The temporary order may be renewed in increments of up to two (2) years.

What is an Ex Parte Order?

An Ex Parte Domestic Violence Order is usually entered in an emergency situation, especially when trying to remove someone from an abusive situation. “Ex parte” is Latin for “without one party,” meaning that your abuser does not have the opportunity to be heard. Because your abuser was not present, if the judge issues the ex parte order, they will give you a date to return to court in order to give your abuser an opportunity to be heard.

The plus side to an ex parte order is that you may get it the same day you file. Once the ex parte order has been served on the abuser (usually by a sheriff), the abuser can no longer contact you in any way. If your abuser does contact you, they can be arrested and will face criminal charges.

What do I do After I get an Ex Parte Order?

After you have received an ex parte DVPO and go back to court to be heard, the judge will either grant or deny your request for a temporary protective order. If the judge does grant your temporary DVPO, remember that it does have a time limit.

The DVPO will only last for one year after the date it is granted. Before the DVPO expires, you may request to have it renewed by filing a Motion to Renew the DVPO for up to two more years.

Do I Qualify to Get a DVPO?

Someone who wants a DVPO has to prove two things:

  1. That they have a personal relationship with the abuser, as defined by NC law; and
  2. An act of domestic violence occurred.

In order to establish that you have a personal relationship with the abuser, you have to prove that one or more of the following apply:

(1) You are married or in a dating relationship;

(2) You are members of the opposite sex who live or have lived together;

(3) You are related as parent or child (i.e., child can pursue a DVPO against mom);

(4) Have a child together.

An act of domestic violence can be an attempt to cause bodily injury or actually causing bodily injury. Additionally, if you or a member of your family are in fear of injury or harassment, or emotional abuse that causes emotional distress, you may also qualify for a DVPO.

If I get a DVPO, what does that mean?

The DVPO may order the abuser to do one or more of the following:

  1. Stay away from you, including at your home, work, or anywhere you may be present;
  2. Refrain from contacting you;
  3. Leave the home immediately;
  4. Allow you to remove your belongings from the home (while escorted by a police officer);
  5. Give you temporary possession of the vehicle;
  6. If there were children involved, the order may even grant you temporary custody of them;
  7. Give you possession of pet(s).

If you have suffered from domestic violence and want to see what your options are regarding a protective order, contact our Family Law attorney.