Renewing a Domestic Violence Protective Order

In North Carolina, a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) is the mechanism by which those in a “personal relationship” with an abuser may seek protection against further threats or acts of violence, among other relief. Under North Carolina statute, a DVPO can be entered for a period not to exceed one year. Once a DVPO expires, the abuser is again free to contact the victim. Many victims of domestic violence want additional, extended protection against a domestic partner greater than one year. In such cases, many choose to renew the Domestic Violence Protective Order.

Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute § 50B-3(b), the Court may review a Domestic Violence Protective Order for a fixed period of time not to exceed two years upon motion by the aggrieved party filed before the expiration of the current order. Those seeking to renew a DVPO must file a motion with the court for the extension before the current DVPO expires. Once a DVPO expires, it cannot be renewed. For example, if a DVPO is set to expire on September 29, 2015, the party seeking its renewal must petition for renewal prior to that date or else forever lose the right to renew the restraining order. To avoid the lapse of a DVPO prior to a hearing on renewal, parties are best advised to file for a renewal two or more weeks prior to the expiration of the Order. Filing in advance ensures that a hearing on renewal can take place prior to the expiration of the prior DVPO.

When determining whether to grant a motion to renew a DVPO, the Court can do so “for good cause.” The threshold for renewal was left rather vague by the North Carolina General Assembly and there is no specific conduct or checklist in North Carolina statutes as to what constitutes “good cause”. This ambiguity provides the trial judge with wide latitude to decide whether good cause exists for the renewal of a DVPO. Although there is nothing specific in statute, the North Carolina Court of Appeals has made clear that if the victim has a continuing subjective fear of the aggressor, sufficient grounds to renew a DVPO exist. The Court of Appeals has also held that a victim does not need to show additional acts of domestic violence since the entry of the prior DVPO in order to obtain a renewal.

In addition to having wide discretion to determine what constitutes good cause sufficient for the renewal of a DVPO, trial courts are also given a large amount of power in regards to the duration of renewals. First, as set forth under statute, a DVPO may be renewed for up to two years but the duration of renewal is within the trial judge’s discretion. A judge could extend a DVPO for 2 months, 10 months, or the full 24 month period. Second, judges may choose to renew DVPO’s as many times as they wish so long as they find good cause. Thus, theoretically, a judge could renew a DVPO for decades assuming good cause is found upon each proper petition for renewal prior to the expiration of the prior DVPO.

To speak with someone today about obtaining a Domestic Violence Protective Order, or renewing a DVPO already in place, please call us today at (704) 810-1400.

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