Recently, North Carolina passed a bill which clarifies certain protections for domestic violence survivors. House Bill 343 goes into effect on October 1, 2017. The bill was introduced to ensure domestic violence victims are protected if their case is appealed by the defendant. During the legislative process, legislators also added an additional protection by specifically stating domestic violence protective orders may be modified. Below is a discussion of the changes and how they can affect your North Carolina Domestic Violence Protective Order.
1. Domestic Violence Orders Remain in Effect During an Appeal
The new law specifically states that a valid domestic violence protective order which has been appealed is still enforceable at the trial court level during the appeal. It is only unenforceable during appeal if the defendant files a motion and the Court of Appeals finds that “justice so requires” the order be stayed pending the appeal.
This provision ensures that survivors can still file criminal charges against the defendant for violating the domestic violence protective order pending a decision by the court of appeals. It also ensures important awards remain in effect pending the appellate decision. For instance, if the court awarded the survivor possession of the house, car or custody of the children, those awards will remain in effect, pending the appeal.
2. Modifications of Domestic Violence Protective Orders are Allowed
The new law also allows domestic violence protective orders to be modified. If either party files a motion to modify a domestic violence protective order, the court may do so after finding there is good cause to modify the order. Circumstances can change. What was ordered in the protective order may not be feasible three to six months down the road, especially if the order involved custody. Prior to the new law, courts were uncertain if protective orders could be modified, since the statute was silent on the matter. Quite a few judges refused to do it. If the order was no longer working for a survivor, sometimes he or she felt the only recourse was to dismiss the order, thereby losing the protections of the court. Beginning October 1, 2017, he or she can file a motion and ask the judge to modify the protective order.
These options provide domestic violence victims with additional tools to ensure their safety while providing flexibility to accommodate unique family situations. Our attorneys are passionate about assisting victims of domestic violence as evidenced by our volunteer work with the Wake County Womens’ Center and with Legal Aid of North Carolina. If you’re a victim of domestic violence, contact us today. Your safety is of paramount importance to our firm.