I have a domestic violence protective order, but the one year expires next month. I am still afraid of her. She came at me with a knife, but luckily, I was able to get away. She still posts statements on Facebook that let me know she is still angry with me. What do I do for protection when the one year is up?
You can apply to the court to extend your domestic violence protective (DVPO) order for another year. Go to the Clerk of Court’s office and the Clerk will have a person who can help you with the paperwork (motion) you need to file. You can also contact the new Family Justice Center here in Guilford County by calling (336) 641-SAFE (7233). They will help you with the paperwork.
Interestingly, under North Carolina General Statutes Section 50B-3 and case law, there is nothing that prevents the judge from renewing a DVPO, based upon what happened in the past that allowed you to obtain the DVPO initially. You are going to need to re-explain what happened when she came at you with the knife. In Guilford County, you will likely not have the same judge you did a year ago.
Two other factors are important to your case: 1) you are still afraid; and 2) the Facebook posts showing that the anger of your ex has not subsided significantly. You do not say how you obtained the Facebook posts, as I assume you are not “friends” with your ex on Facebook. For the hearing, you may want to take with you the person who obtained the Facebook posts for you.
The Raleigh case of Forehand v. Forehand helps your situation. In Forehand, the plaintiff, who wanted to extend her DVPO, stated that she was “fearful of being put in the same room with the defendant without a DVPO in place”. She further stated that if the DVPO were lifted, “he would be at my doorstep tonight. And I fear for the safety…harm to the children, what he might do in their presence…” The defendant didn’t think that was enough for an extension, so he appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and lost.
I particularly like the Forehand case because it clearly talks about the subjective fear of the plaintiff as the important factor. Lawyers like to debate objective fear vs. subjective fear. Generally, subjective fear is your personal fear, regardless of whether others would be afraid under similar circumstances. Objective fear asks the question: “would the reasonable person be fearful under the circumstances?” The standard for a DVPO is subjective fear as stated in Forehand.
Please write down all of the facts that give you cause for concern and make you want to obtain an extension of your DVPO. Many of these cases are lost because of failure to “make your case.” The judge has to hear all facts. Be sure to take the Facebook posts you mentioned with you, and perhaps, the person who obtained the Facebook posts for you.
Send your questions on family law and divorce matters to “Ask Carolyn…” at firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro, NC 27427. Please do not put identifying information in your questions.
This blog is revised from a previous Ask Carolyn in The Rhino Times.
Note that the answers in “Ask Carolyn” are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your unique case. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by “Ask Carolyn.”