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National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or (TTY) 1-800-787-3224

Know the Laws: North Carolina

UPDATED December 14, 2010

back to topWho can get a domestic violence protective order (DVPO)?

You can seek legal protection from acts of domestic violence done to you or your minor child by someone you have had a "personal relationship" with, which includes:

  • Your spouse, or ex-spouse,
  • A person of the opposite sex with whom you live or used to live,
  • Someone you are related to, including parents, children, grandparents and grandchildren, over the age of 16,
  • Someone with whom you have a child in common,
  • A current or former household member, or
  • Someone of the opposite sex whom you are dating or have dated.  ("Dating" is defined as being romantically involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship.)*

Teens under the age of 18 need a parent or guardian to file for a protective order on their behalf.  For more information, speak to a local domestic violence organization.

If you have not had a "personal relationship" with your abuser, harasser or stalker, you may be eligible for a protective order against stalking or harassment.**  Please see How can I get an order against stalking or sexual harassment (a civil no-contact order)?

* NCGS § 50B-1(b)
** NCGS § 50C-1

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back to topCan I get a DVPO against a same-sex partner?

Yes, if you are living with or have lived with your partner in the past (legally called “household member”) or if you are legally married.  While people in heterosexual relationships can get a DVPO regardless if they are living together or in a dating relationship, same-sex couples must be living together or have lived together in the past or be married to get the same protection.*

There may also be other legal options for you as well. To find help in your state, please click on the NC Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.

See Who can get a domestic violence protective order (DVPO)? for more information on how North Carolina law defines who is eligible for a DVPO.

* See NCGS § 50B-1(b)(1),(5),(6)

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back to topHow much does it cost?

Nothing. There are no fees for filing for a domestic violence protective order.*

* NCGS § 50B-2(a)

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back to topDo I need an attorney?

No, you do not need an attorney to file for a DVPO or to get an ex parte order.*  You also do not need an attorney at the full court hearing, but you may want one, especially if you think the defendant (abuser) will have one.  It is recommended that you contact an attorney to make sure that your legal rights are protected. You can get free legal assistance if you contact one of the domestic violence organizations in your area. You may request that an advocate accompany you to court.  See our NC Where to Find Help page to find an organization in your area.

* NCGS § 50B-2(a)

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back to topWhat if I have to miss work to get a DVPO?

If you have to miss work for a reasonable time to file and attend hearings for a DVPO, your employer may not fire you, demote you (give you a lower position or rank), deny you a promotion or discipline you as an employee.

You must follow your employer's usual time-off policy, including advance notice to the employer if that is generally required, unless an emergency prevents you from doing so.

Your employer may require documentation of an emergency that prevented you from following your employer's policy regarding giving advance notice. S/he may also ask for any other information or documentation available to you which supports your reason for being absent.*  For more information, see our NC Workplace Protections page.

* NCGS § 50B-5.5

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back to topWhat if I don't qualify for a DVPO or if my order is not granted?

If you do not qualify for a DVPO or if your order is not granted, you can still seek protection from the law and assistance from domestic violence organizations.  If you do not qualify for a DVPO because you do not have a "personal relationship" with a person who has stalked or sexually harrased you, you may be eligible file for a civil no-contact order.*

Also, the abuser may be committing a crime for which s/he may be arrested.  For definitions of common crimes in North Carolina, go to our Crimes page.

You may also want to visit our Staying Safe page for ways to increase your safety.

Domestic violence protective orders do not cover many types of emotional or mental abuse. If you're being mentally or emotionally abused, please contact a domestic violence organization in your area. They can help you figure out your options, help you stay safe, and offer you support.  See our NC State and Local Programs page for referrals.


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