Knowing when to seek help can be difficult if you are in a controlling personal relationship. Many people wait until after someone has physically hit them or their children. However, threats and emotional abuse can also indicate an abusive relationship. In this blog post, we will discuss what domestic violence is and what proof you need for a restraining order in North Carolina.

How Can I Know If I Face Domestic Violence?

You may feel like you’re overreacting or that the situation will get better on its own. However, if you grow up in a home where violence is okay, it can feel like you shouldn’t make waves. It’s easy to think that speaking up is wrong.

But if someone in your home or life is trying to hurt you, speaking the truth about what is happening is crucial to finding your way back to safety. It is important to remember that domestic abuse is never okay.

Domestic abuse is a “pattern of intentionally violent or controlling behavior used against a family member or a dating/intimate partner to gain power and control over that person, during or after the relationship. Domestic violence is also known as family violence, intimate partner violence, or dating violence.” (1)

North Carolina Legal Definitions of Domestic Violence

The law provides for a judge to give a domestic violence order if the abuser intentionally committed one of the following acts against you or your child:

  • Causing or attempting to cause actual physical harm: Perhaps the abuser pretends to punch you in the face but misses by a millimeter on purpose. Or they throw a glass jar at your head that shatters on the wall behind you.
  • Placing you in fear of “imminent serious bodily injury.” For example, if your own written statements declare that the abuser held a knife and threatened you or your child with physical violence.
  • Continued civil harassment: At least two wrongful acts against you or your children with no legitimate purpose that caused “substantial emotional distress.” Perhaps the abuser texts you 100 times daily or waits outside your workplace and follows you home a few times a week.
  • Sexual assault against you or your children

Who Can Get a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

To file a Domestic Violence Restraining order, you’ll need to have a qualifying relationship with the abusive individual. Domestic abuse happens when you face abuse at the hands of someone with a personal relationship with you, including:

  • Former or current spouse
  • Household member
  • Boyfriend/girlfriend
  • Your parent
  • Your child

But how do you file for protection? Let’s look at that question next.

How Do I Get a Temporary Restraining Order?

You can apply for a temporary restraining order if you’re in immediate danger. You’ll still fill out the same court restraining order paperwork and give it to the court clerk, whether you’re filing for a temporary emergency order or a permanent order. For immediate danger, you will check the box stating, “I believe there is danger of serious and immediate injury to me or my child(ren).”

Next, a judge will hold a short “ex parte hearing” if you’ve applied for the emergency temporary order. At this short hearing, you’ll discuss what happened, and the judge will decide if you need an immediate protection order (ex parte order or temporary restraining order).

The court system considers temporary restraining order requests a serious matter. Restraining orders bring legal and police protection to you or any children and mobilize forces to help you.

Temporary restraining orders require you to convince the judge that you or your family is in an extremely dangerous situation involving immediate danger of physical abuse or harassment. This temporary court order does not require a court hearing with evidence presented by both parties.

However, the court requires both you and the abusive individual to show your evidence at the next hearing. Your temporary restraining order expires after only 10 days to a few weeks, when it is time to attend the hearing for your final restraining order.

If you don’t apply for the temporary emergency order, you won’t attend the short emergency order hearing. Instead, you’ll only attend the hearing for your permanent restraining order DVPO.

How Do I Get a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

After you file your DVPO paperwork with the clerk’s office, the sheriff’s office will deliver a copy of your complaint and the ex parte order to the abusive individual. With either type of order, within 10 days, you’ll attend the permanent restraining order hearing to present your case to the judge, with the abusive person also presenting their evidence.

The judge will ask if you want to move forward with the case and also ask the abusive person if they consent to the restraining order.

For example, if you want a DVPO that lasts for a year, but your ex does not consent, the court will hold a hearing where you both present evidence, including witnesses and documents. Such an order requires you to present your best case and show that the abusive person committed an act of domestic violence. (1)

What Proof Do You Need for a Restraining Order in North Carolina?

There is no definitive evidence required to get an emergency order. Still, for a permanent order, you must show convincing evidence that the other party committed specific acts of violence against you or your children.

Because these hearings are much like a trial, it’s crucial to have an experienced lawyer on your side. When it comes to an abusive spouse or partner, presenting reasonable proof that you need a protective order can make or break your case.

Evidence may include:

  • Medical records
  • Physical evidence such as letters, pictures, court papers
  • Evidence of past abuse or violent behavior in the form of police reports or third-party witnesses such as business partners or neighbors
  • Testimony of family members or other persons you’ve discussed the abuse with
  • Text messages, emails, recorded conversations
  • Police officers who have seen abusive behavior and can offer their testimony
  • Evidence of previous protection orders

If you have clear and convincing evidence, you have a better chance of receiving a permanent civil restraining order. Showing up on your court date to extend a temporary order without effective evidence may not give the proof needed for a DVPO. You need to work with a knowledgeable North Carolina domestic violence attorney to find any and all evidence of current or past abuse.

As the person seeking police protection, you want to present your best civil restraining order case for your best outcome!

Our Experienced Attorneys Can Help

Whether you need restraining orders for a grown child or an ex-partner, our experienced domestic violence protection attorneys can help you work with the courts to present your best case! At Cape Fear Law, we understand how hard it can be to take on a legal battle against an abusive individual, but our attorneys are ready and able to step in and help you through the process.

Contact us for a free consultation if you need more information about the proof you need for a restraining order. We offer compassionate service and a safe space to talk about what you’re going through and the available legal options.

Let us help you build your case and protect what matters!