As recently as a generation ago, it was a commonplace observation that wives essentially were the property of their husbands. A study in 1977 found that roughly half of all wives were beaten by their husbands at least once during their marriage. Even today, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States, and on average three women are killed each day by their husbands or boyfriends.

The North Carolina Council for Women, a women’s advocacy agency within the state Department of Administration, reports that 95,877 calls were received in 2010-2011 to ask for help in domestic violence situations. Our state government considers domestic abuse in North Carolina to be a grave problem. Laws are in place to help abused women and men escape the cycle of violence that all too often dominates their lives.

Domestic Violence Protective Orders

A domestic violence protective order (DVPO), sometimes called a restraining order, is a document signed by a judge that commands an abuser to stop, under the threat of severe legal penalties.

Much of the American legal system is based on contests between two sides: people with a dispute appear before a magistrate or jury, and argue—directly or through their lawyers—the merits of their different positions. This competition is seen as the best way to get at the truth and to make wise judgments.

A domestic violence protective order is one of the rare exceptions to this pattern. The needs of the abused person are considered so important that the judge will hear only her side of the story and make what’s called an ex parte decision: a decision made from the perspective of only one party. This is fair, though, because the only limitation it places on the other party—the alleged abuser—is to force him to stop abusive behavior that is not permitted under the law.

A North Carolina restraining order can take two forms:

  • Temporary protective orders. This is the ex parte order described above. If the judge believes there is an imminent and serious danger to one spouse or to children, a temporary order may be issued within just a few hours after a complaint is filed. The court must consider a restraining order request within 72 hours after it is filed.
  • Final domestic violence protective orders. This will require a full court hearing, with the option of each side to hire attorneys. The accused abuser will be served notice of where and when the hearing is to be held. He will have a chance to explain his actions and to refute the accusations of the accuser. A final DVPO lasts up to a year, but it can be renewed for an additional two years if the court agrees.

Filing a Domestic Violence Protective Order

If you have been a victim of domestic abuse in Wrightsville Beach or Wilmington, your best recourse is to hire a lawyer. The experienced Wilmington family law attorneys at Speaks Law Firm can be your first line of defense against an abusive spouse. We can:

File the paperwork to get you a domestic violence restraining order;

Help find you temporary shelter outside the family home or connect you to support groups for battered spouses; and, if necessary,

We can proceed at your direction toward a legal separation or divorce petition.

Call us today at 910-341-7570 (locally) or 877-593-4233 (toll-free) to schedule an initial consultation or learn more about our services. We offer compassionate, discreet, and confidential assistance to all our clients.

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