How to file a restraining order

How to File a Restraining Order to North Carolina

When you’re going through a divorce or separation, the process can quickly become difficult, painful, and, for some people, dangerous. At Mulligan Epstein Attorneys, we understand the problems that can arise during these conversations, which is why our family law attorneys help our clients file restraining orders when necessary.

A restraining order is a temporary court order issued to protect an individual from carrying out a particular action. This “action” is usually approaching or contacting the person who files the restraining order. If the case involves domestic abuse, it can also keep a person from purchasing a firearm, or living within a specific residence.

Restraining orders are most common in cases of domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault. If you ask the court for a restraining order, you are requesting legal protection from a person, but not asking that they be sent to jail for a crime. If the person violates the restraining order, however, they may be prosecuted as a result.

There are a number of steps you must go through in order to file a restraining order in North Carolina. While the process can be intimidating, it’s important to remember that these laws are put into place for your protection. If you feel you need a restraining order, then by all means—file one, preferably with the help of an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer, such as those at Mulligan Epstein Attorneys.

1. Go to the courthouse and get the necessary forms.

The first step is fairly simple: paperwork. The forms you need can be found at the office of the clerk of civil court or the magistrate’s office. Explain why you’re there and what you’ll need, and they’ll make sure you get the necessary paperwork. Remember, they’ve done this before, so don’t be shy, ashamed, or worried. Their job is to help you, and they’re eager to do it.  However, the clerks are not allowed to give legal advice, so be prepared to fill out the forms without their assistance.

2. Fill out a complaint.

The next step is to fill out the complaint form. Remember to put yourself down as the plaintiff. The person you’re filing the restraining order against will be the defendant. You will have to write out a complete and detailed description of why you’re asking for a restraining order. This means outlining the abuse you’ve suffered, using specific language, dates and as much detail as possible. While this step may be painful, embarrassing, or difficult, it’s very important to be transparent and honest. The judge must understand the extent of the abuse and the danger this person poses. If children are involved, make sure you request temporary custody as well.

3. Fill out the summons.

In order for the restraining order to progress to the next step, the abuser will have to be served a summons. Include the abuser’s name and address, as well as a good physical description. The sheriff is the one who serves the summons, so you don’t need to worry about contacting your abuser yourself. This can be a difficult and potentially dangerous job, and you will not be asked to risk your own safety during this process. The court is there to protect you, not put you in harm’s way.

4. Seek a temporary order.

Also known as an ex parte, this allows you to enact the restraining order prior to an official hearing. It’s an emergency order that immediately takes effect, and is an excellent way to ensure protection for yourself and/or your children. It’s important to keep this order with you at all times. We recommend leaving copies with your employer and anywhere your children spend time, such as school, daycare, or with relatives.

5. Attend the hearing.

Once you file your complaint and summons, you’ll receive a date and time for a hearing. You are required to attend the hearing, and you should have an attorney representing you at this time. The family law attorneys at Mulligan Epstein are experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to retraining orders, and can help you prepare for your hearing. They will guide you through the steps and help you gather documentation that shows the court the abuser has committed an act of violence against you and/or your children. He or she can also offer emotional support through this difficult and often painful process.

6. Extend or renew the order if needed.

A restraining order lasts one year from the date it’s granted. If you need an extension, you can get one for up to two years by repeating all these steps.

If you’re going through a divorce or separation, or want to file a restraining order for any reason, contact Mulligan Epstein Attorneys as soon as possible. Our lawyers are ready, willing, and waiting to get you the protection you need and deserve.