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Legal Information: North Carolina

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of December 22, 2023

Who 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 with whom you have a child in common;
  • a current or former household member; 
  • someone of the opposite sex whom you are dating or have dated; or
  • parents, children, grandparents, and grandchildren – however, a parent, grandparent, or someone acting in loco parentis to a minor child can only file against a child who is 16 or older.1

If you have not had a “personal relationship” with the abuser, harasser or stalker, you may be eligible for a civil no-contact order.2

1 NCGS § 50B-1(b)
2 NCGS § 50C-1

Can I apply for a domestic violence protective order if I am a minor?

A minor can file a petition or the minor’s parent or legal guardian can file a petition on a minor’s behalf.1

1 See NCGS § 50B-1(a); see also UNC School of Government

Can I file for a domestic violence protective order against a minor?

You can file for a domestic violence protective order against a minor. The only exception is that if it is a parent or grandparent filing against his/her child or grandchild, the child has to be at least 16 years old. This exception also applies to someone who is in a parental role (“in loco parentis”) to a child filing against that child.1  

1 See NCGS § 50B-1(b)(6); see also UNC School of Government

Can I get a DVPO against a same-sex partner?

In North Carolina, you may apply for a domestic violence protective order (DVPO) against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Who can get a domestic violence protective order (DVPO)? You must also be the victim of an act of domestic violence, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic violence in North Carolina?

Note: For non-married people in dating relationships or living together, the law specifically says that the people have to be of the opposite sex to file for a domestic violence protective order.1

You can find information about LGBTQIA victims of abuse and what types of barriers they may face on our LGBTQIA Victims page.

1 NCGS § 50B-1(b)(2)

How much does it cost?

There are no fees for filing for a domestic violence protective order.1

1 NCGS § 50B-2(a)

What 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, give you a lower position or rank (“demote” you), 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.1  For more information, see our NC Workplace Protections page.

1 NCGS § 50B-5.5

Do I need an attorney?

You do not need an attorney to file for a DVPO or to get an ex parte order.1  You also do not need an attorney at the full court hearing, but you may want one, especially if you think the 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 Places that Help page to find an organization in your area.

1 NCGS § 50B-2(a)

What 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.1

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 Advocates and Shelters page for referrals.