North Carolina Domestic Violence Law


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Domestic violence means the commission of one or more of the following acts upon an aggrieved party or upon a minor child residing with or in the custody of the aggrieved party by a person with whom the aggrieved party has or has had a personal relationship, but does not include acts of self-defense: (1) Attempting to cause bodily injury, or intentionally causing bodily injury; or (2) Placing the aggrieved party or a member of the aggrieved party's family or household in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment that rises to such a level as to inflict substantial emotional distress; or (3) Rape or sexual assault.

The term “personal relationship” means that the parties involved (1) Are current or former spouses; (2) Are persons of opposite sex who live together or have lived together; (3) Are related as parents and children, including others acting in loco parentis to a minor child, or as grandparents and grandchildren; (4) Have a child in common; (5) Are current or former household members; (6) Are persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been in a dating relationship. A dating relationship is one wherein the parties are romantically involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship. A casual acquaintance or ordinary fraternization between persons in a business or social context is not a dating relationship.

A party may move the court for emergency relief if he or she believes there is a danger of serious and immediate injury to himself or herself or a minor child. If it clearly appears to the court from specific facts shown, that there is a danger of acts of domestic violence against the aggrieved party or a minor child, the court may enter an ex parte order as it deems necessary to protect the aggrieved party or minor children from such acts.

A hearing shall be held within 10 days from the date of issuance of an ex parte order or within seven days from the date of service of process on the other party, whichever occurs later. A hearing on a motion for emergency relief, where no ex parte order is entered, shall be held after five days' notice of the hearing to the other party or after five days from the date of service of process on the other party, whichever occurs first, provided, however, that no hearing shall be required if the service of process is not completed on the other party.

The court may grant a protective order to bring about a cessation of acts of domestic violence. The orders or agreements may: (1) Direct a party to refrain from such acts; (2) Grant to a party possession of the residence or household of the parties and exclude the other party from the residence or household; (3) Require a party to provide a spouse and his or her children suitable alternate housing; (4) Award temporary custody of minor children and establish temporary visitation rights; (5) Order the eviction of a party from the residence or household and assistance to the victim in returning to it; (6) Order either party to make payments for the support of a minor child as required by law; (7) Order either party to make payments for the support of a spouse as required by law; (8) Provide for possession of personal property of the parties; (9) Order a party to refrain from: threatening, abusing or following the other party, harassing the other party, including by telephone, visiting the home or workplace, or other means, or otherwise interfering with the other party; (10) Award attorney's fees to either party; (11) Prohibit a party from purchasing a firearm for a time fixed in the order; (12) Order any party the court finds is responsible for acts of domestic violence to attend and complete an abuser treatment program if the program is approved by the Domestic Violence Commission; and (13) Include any additional prohibitions or requirements the court deems necessary to protect any party or any minor child.

A copy of any domestic violence protective order entered is issued to each party. In addition, a copy of the order is issued to and retained by the police department of the city of the victim's residence. If the victim does not reside in a city or resides in a city with no police department, copies are issued to and retained by the sheriff, and the county sheriff's department, if any, of the county in which the victim resides.

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