A Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) is usually referred to in North Carolina as a 50B Order. The 50B stands for the Chapter of the North Carolina General Statutes (NCGS) that lays out the legal requirements of a 50B order and the relief that a person can get from such an order.
First, what is a 50B Order? A 50B Order is an order issued by a North Carolina District Court in response to a complaint by a party (the plaintiff) regarding physical abuse, or imminent threats of physical abuse. In response to the complaint, the Court may issue an order instructing the Defendant not to threaten, assault or harass the plaintiff. Or the Court may do much more, including making temporary decisions about custody of children, ordering the defendant to attend anger management courses, order the defendant to stay away from the plaintiff.
There are generally two parts to the Order. There is the Emergency Ex Parte order, and the Domestic Violence Protective Order. The Emergency Ex Parte Order can be granted upon a petition and a credible showing by the plaintiff that she (or he) has been physically abused or threatened and requires an emergency order protecting her (or him) from further abuse.
The Ex Parte order is a short term order – usually 10 days – which may require the defendant to not contact the plaintiff, or to relinquish firearms, or to do other things that reduce the potential for harm to the plaintiff. An Ex Parte hearing is a hearing by one party – the plaintiff – without the defendant present, so the court will not order anger management or other kinds of relief at an Ex Parte hearing.
Before a full Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) can be ordered, the Defendant must receive notice through a complaint and summons of the hearing. The Defendant need not be present. For instance, if the Defendant avoids the hearing, the court can still issue the DVPO.
The Court’s DVPO can include any of the relief in NCGS Sec. 50B-3, including, but not limited to, “Require a party to provide a spouse and his or her children suitable alternate housing,” “Award temporary custody of minor children and establish temporary visitation rights pursuant to G.S. 50B?2 if the order is granted ex parte, and pursuant to subsection (a1) of this section if the order is granted after notice or service of process,” “Order either party to make payments for the support of a spouse as required by law,” and so on.
In other words, a DVPO is a very powerful tool. In addition, violation of a DVPO is a class A1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 150 days in jail.