In order to file a DVPO, you need to go to the eleventh floor of the Wake County Court House in downtown Raleigh and complete the paperwork entitled Complaint and Motion for Domestic Violence Protective Order. This simple and straightforward document asks for basic information about your relationship with the defendant, details of the incidents of violence or abuse that have occurred, and the ways in which you desire to receive relief from that abuse. You will then have an ex parte hearing with a judge, meaning that you will speak with a judge about the domestic violence issues you have experienced without the opposing party present to defend him or herself. Based on this hearing, the judge will issue an ex parte order that can temporarily limit the rights of the defendant in order to protect your safety.
Ten days following your ex parte hearing, you will need to return to court for a return hearing. There are multiple differences from the ex parte hearing that make it immensely important that you hire an attorney to represent you at the return hearing. First, the opposing party will have the opportunity to attend the hearing and refute your claims. Additionally, they may have their own legal representation with expertise in family law and domestic violence issues. Without a substantial understanding of Wake County’s legal procedures it may be difficult for you to adequately make your case against such a formidable and experienced opponent. Second, the outcome of this hearing is more significant than that of the ex parte hearing. The ex parte order is temporary and expires after ten days, while the order that the judge establishes based on the return hearing is more permanent. Because this hearing will have long lasting consequences, it is important to have legal representation to strongly represent your case and help you receive the most beneficial order for your safety. Third, the outcome of your return hearing can have substantial effects on other areas of family that you may deal with in the future including alimony, child support, or child custody. Because it can be so influential, it is important to take this hearing seriously and ensure you are well prepared to make your case.
If you have filed a Complaint and Motion for a Domestic Violence Protection Order or are considering doing so, set up an appointment at Hopkins Law Firm to discuss how to best prepare for your return hearing and the rest of your family law related needs.