Family: Domestic Violence Protective Orders (DVPO)
Authored By: Legal Aid of North Carolina
What is a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO)?
A DVPO (also called a 50B order) is an order of the Court granting a victim of domestic violence protection from their abuser. Many people refer to it as a "restraining order."
The order can direct the abuser to do, or refrain from doing, numerous things, including (but not limited to): staying away from the victim, not contacting the victim by phone, mail, email or otherwise, leaving their shared home, not abusing the victim, and in some cases may order temporary custody and/or arrange for visitation.
What is the process for getting a DVPO?
You must first file a Complaint. Typically when filing the Complaint you also make a request for an Emergency Ex Parte Order. (Ex parte means that the defendant is not present.) The Ex Parte Order is temporary and is usually done the same day you file. You will be given a date within 10 days to come to Court. (Many people call this Ex Parte Order a "10 day Order" because it expires after 10 days unless a hearing is held or the case/hearing is continued to another date.)
The defendant has to be served. The sheriff usually does this.
Go to the "Return" or "10-day" hearing. Within 10 days of your getting the Ex Parte Order you will have a hearing. (If the defendant has not been served by that date, the Court will continue the case to another date.) The purpose of the hearing is to decide whether your temporary Ex Parte Order should be kept in place and extended for up to one (1) year. (Many people call this the "permanent order," however it is not actually "permanent.")
If the defendant has been served by the hearing date, there are several possible scenarios:
1. You (the Plaintiff/victim) do not go to Court. In this scenario the Order will be dropped. The Ex Parte Order will no longer be valid.
2. The defendant does not come to Court. If this happens, typically the judge will extend the DVPO for one (1) year with the same or similar terms as the Ex Parte Order. Some judges will have the victim testify on the stand. Other judges may just issue the order based on the verified Complaint filed under oath.
3. The defendant comes to Court but does not want to contest the order. If this is the case, often the judge will issue the order for one (1) year with the same, or similar, terms as the Ex Parte Order. There will be no trial/testimony since there is no contest.
4. ***The defendant comes to Court and contests the Order.*** This results in a hearing. The parties will be sworn in and take the stand to present their evidence. After the evidence is presented by both sides, the judge decides whether to keep the order in effect or dismiss it.