Take Note

Governor Cooper signed Domestic Violence Bill S493According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (https://ncadv.org/statistics), nearly 20 people in the United States are physically abused by an intimate partner every minute. This amounts to more than 10 million men and women each year! This year, North Carolina’s legislature is taking steps to further combat domestic violence.

On July 26th, Governor Cooper signed Bill S493, which makes three changes you should know about to our domestic violence laws. These changes take effect on December 1, 2019.

Domestic Violence Law Changes

  • Batterer Treatment Programs:

    A common provision included in a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO) requires the defendant to complete a batterer treatment program. Until now, it has been the responsibility of the victim to enforce this requirement. Not only is the victim often unaware of the defendant’s compliance (or non-compliance), it can put further hardship on victims. As such, in many cases, compliance was never confirmed, and non-compliance went unaddressed. Beginning on December 1st, when a judge enters a DVPO requiring completion of a batterer intervention program, the judge will also schedule a review hearing to ensure compliance.

  • Competing Orders

    District Court Judges cannot enter orders contradicting the order of another judge. A DVPO often resolves certain issues on a temporary basis, such as possession of a vehicle or home. A subsequent order may award possession of the same vehicle or home to the other party. Bill S493 clarifies that when a subsequent order contradicts the terms of a DVPO, the subsequent order controls.

  • Expiration of DVPO

    Every DVPO states that the order “…shall be effective until…” a date set by the judge. The law is clear that an initial DVPO cannot be entered for more than 1 year, but it was unclear at what time, on the expiration date, the DVPO expired. Some say it expires immediately after the expiration date (i.e. 12:01 am the next day), others say it expires at right before the day ends (i.e. 11:59pm the day of), and still others say it expires when the courthouse closes. It is now clear that a DVPO expires at 11:59pm on the expiration date. This is important to victims, who must file a request to renew the order before expiration of the DVPO, as well as to defendants alleged to have violated a DVPO around the time of expiration.

If you are a party to a DVPO now or in the future, consult a family law attorney to be sure you understand how these domestic violence laws changes apply to you specifically. You can contact us at email us, fill out our form on this page, or call 704-442-0000 to speak with one of our experienced attorneys.