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Who Can File for a Domestic Violence Protective Order in North Carolina?

Domestic Violence Protective Orders (DVPO) can be filed in North Carolina when you have a personal relationship with someone who is harassing, threatening, or committing another type of domestic violence against you. Which relationships are classified as personal relationships for this purpose?

Divorce and Protective Orders

Spouses and ex-spouses qualify under the personal relationship requirement of a DVPO, which means you can file for a protective order during or after your divorce. Keep in mind that having a protective order in place is likely to impact parts of your divorce process, such as settlement negotiations and child custody arrangements. A Greensboro divorce lawyer can help you file for a DVPO and answer any questions you may have about your options in North Carolina.

Other Qualifying Relationships

In addition to married and divorced couples, the following relationships are also considered personal relationships[1] for the purpose of obtaining a DVPO:

  • Current or former roommates of the opposite sex
  • People with a child in common
  • Household members, current or former
  • Opposite-sex dating partners, current or former

Parents and children are also eligible for DVPOs in certain circumstances. A parent or grandparent may request a protective order against a child or grandchild who is age 17 or older. Adult children and grandchildren may be granted a DVPO against their parents or grandparents. A parent or guardian can file on behalf of their minor child, if the other party involved has a personal relationship with the child.

If you need an order of protection but don’t qualify for a DVPO based on a personal relationship, you may be able to file for a no-contact order.[2]

M.E. v. T.J.

You may have noticed in the above list that unmarried same-sex couples are excluded from the dating partner relationship in North Carolina law. This was the issue at the core of a recent case out of Wake County.

In the case of M.E. v. T.J.,[3] Plaintiff filed Chapter 50B forms to obtain a DVPO against Defendant, her ex-girlfriend. In this filing, Plaintiff alleged that she felt she was in danger. However, at the DVPO hearing, the trial court directed Plaintiff to file a no-contact order because DVPOs did not apply to same-sex dating partners. The clerk’s office recommended that she not dismiss her DVPO request, so Plaintiff filed a no-contact order in addition to the DVPO request.

At the hearing for both of Plaintiff’s motions, the judge granted the no-contact order and stated that while there may be an argument for why DVPOs should apply to same-sex couples, the trial court would not consider that on a simple motion. The DVPO motion was dismissed, and Plaintiff appealed this decision.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the sexes of dating partners should not be considered when granting or denying DVPOs. Defendant appealed, and the case was heard in the North Carolina Supreme Court, where it was decided that excluding unmarried same-sex couples from DVPOs was unconstitutional. Contact a Greensboro divorce attorney for more information.


[1] NC General Statute § 50B-1.

[2] North Carolina Judicial Branch. How to Get a Protection Order.

[3]M.E. v. T.J., 380 N.C. 539, 869 S.E.2d 624.