North Carolina has laws in place designed to provide help to victims of domestic violence. The law provides a framework for District Courts in the state to address issues of domestic violence and to provide protection to victims. Abused persons have ability to obtain an order of protection from a court that requires an abuser to keep one’s distance from a victim. In general, if an order of protection is granted and the abuser violates the order, the abuser may be held in contempt of court and imprisoned, among other potential penalties.
If you need to obtain an order of protection from an abuser, you must travel to the courthouse in the county in which the individual lives. At the courthouse, the you will complete a form called a Complaint and Motion for Domestic Violence Protective Order.
Once the Complaint form is filed, the individual filing the form can request a temporary “ex parte” restraining order. Individuals who claim that they, their children or immediate family members are in immediate danger can ask a judge to enter a temporary restraining order without hearing from the other party. The order shows, in general terms, the findings that a judge must make in order to enter a temporary restraining order as well as the kinds of restrictions that can be placed on a person who has been found to have committed acts of domestic violence.
Whether or not a temporary restraining order is sought or granted, after the Complaint and Motion for Protective Order is filed, it must be served upon the person from whom protection is sought. In order to serve the Complaint, the individual seeking the order of protection must complete a Summons, which can be found at the local courthouse or online.
In most cases, the Summons and Complaint can be given to the sheriff, who will then serve the papers on the Defendant, and return the Summons form to the clerk showing that the Defendant was provided copies of the Summons and Complaint.