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Domestic violence (also referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV), dating abuse, or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.

Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate. People of any race, age, gender, sexuality, religion, education level, or economic status can be a victim — or perpetrator — of domestic violence. That includes behaviors that physically harm, intimidate, manipulate or control a partner, or otherwise force them to behave in ways they don’t want to, including through physical violence, threats, emotional abuse, or financial control.

Multiple forms of abuse are usually present at the same time in abusive situations, and it’s essential to understand how these behaviors interact so you know what to look for and next steps.


North Carolina’s domestic violence laws, recorded in North Carolina General (NCGS) § 50B, should be helpful in understanding what constitutes this type of abuse.

North Carolina defines domestic violence as mistreatment between parties who share the following personal relationships:

  • Married couples

  • Former spouses

  • Persons who have or had a co-habitational relationship

  • Parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren

  • Any person bearing a parental-type relationship with a minor child

  • Individuals who have a child together

  • Current or former housemates

  • Persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship


Acts constituting domestic violence include:

  • Intentionally causing, or attempting to cause, bodily injury

  • Threats that place a person in fear of imminent bodily injury;

  • Rape or specified sexual offenses

  • Engaging in continued harassment that inspires fear in the victim


In addition to these descriptions of domestic violence, some examples may also be useful. Behaviors that may indicate the presence of abuse include:

  • Sexual coercion

  • Extreme jealousy and being overly possessive

  • Resentment toward other family members and friends

  • Overbearing, controlling behavior

  • Demands that you obtain permission for certain activities

  • Verbal abuse, insults and degrading comments directed at you

  • Placing blame

  • Claims that you are not supportive


Even when you know that you are in a domestic violence situation and are engaged in a personal relationship that’s protected by law, your options may not be as clear. Fortunately, you do have legal options. Union County domestic violence lawyer Kirk Lundell will handle all aspects of your case, ensuring your safety and helping you take control over your life.

Restraining Orders for Victims

To obtain a protective court order against your abuser, you must file a complaint at your county courthouse (or if the courthouse is closed, with your local county magistrate) alleging the specific facts of domestic violence and your relationship to the abuser. The complaint forms are available from the Clerk of Superior Court at all county courthouses in North Carolina (or from the magistrate’s office after regular courthouse hours). By law, no court costs will be assessed for the filing of a complaint for domestic violence seeking a protective order.


Based upon your complaint, the court may issue an ex parte protective order. Ex parte is a legal term meaning that the court entered the order based on a hearing in which one of the parties was not present. The court can order that you be given possession of your home, personal property, household possessions, vehicles, and animals kept as pets. The court may also order that your abuser stay away from your residence, place of employment or your children’s schools.

By law, the court must conduct a second hearing (a “return hearing”) within 10 days after issuing an ex parte protective order. At that hearing you will again testify to the specific facts of domestic violence. Your abuser will also have the opportunity to testify in his or her own defense. Witnesses may be called to testify as well. If the presiding judge is convinced that acts of domestic violence took place after hearing testimony from the parties and any other witnesses, the court will issue a permanent protective order which is effective for one year.

Renewing Protective Orders

Protective orders terminate after one year. Prior to its termination, a victim may apply to the court for the renewal of his or her protective order for up to an additional two-year term (which can later then again be renewed for “good cause” prior to the expiration of the renewed order).


Upon obtaining a protective order, you should send a copy of the order to your abuser if you believe that he or she has not already been served with it by law enforcement (note that the Sheriff’s Department in your county will attempt to serve the order on your abuser as soon as possible). You should also keep a copy of the protective order ready at hand if there is any future need to call the police for protection against your abuser.

Divorce from "Bed & Board"

Can I force my spouse to leave the marital home?

The easiest way to facilitate a marital separation is for one spouse to move out of the marital home. But, what happens if neither spouse is willing to move out? Can one spouse force the other spouse to vacate the marital home?


In North Carolina, there are limited options to force a marital separation. One option is for a spouse to file a legal action seeking a “divorce from bed and board.” A divorce from bed and board is not really a divorce, but rather a legally authorized separation in which a judge has authority to require one of the spouses to vacate the marital home. The spouses remain legally married so neither spouse can remarry without obtaining a judgment of absolute divorce.


A divorce from bed and board may be granted to an “injured” spouse if a judge finds that the other spouse committed any of the following acts of marital misconduct:

  • abandonment;

  • maliciously turning the other out-of-doors;

  • cruel or barbarous treatment endangering the life of the other;

  • indignities that render the other spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome;

  • excessive use of alcohol or drugs that render the other spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome; or

  • adultery.


In order to prevail on a claim for divorce from bed and board, the injured spouse must prove that he/she did not provoke the misconduct of the other spouse.


When acts of occur between the spouses, an abused spouse may file a legal action seeking a domestic violence protective order. In these matters, a judge may enter a protective order that grants the abused spouse exclusive possession of the marital home and requires the offending spouse to vacate the home.

Separating from your spouse may affect finances and property rights and can have other legal implications. If you are considering separating from your spouse, you will benefit from having a consultation with an experienced family law attorney.


To make an appointment to discuss divorce of bed & board with our knowledgeable attorney, contact the Lundell Law Firm in Monroe, NC. Call us today at (704) 288-4096, or request a consultation.

Abused By Someone Close To You?

We Can Help Protect Your Rights. A victim of domestic violence may acquire a temporary protective order on an ex parte basis (an Order issued by the Court without notifying the alleged abuser). Once a temporary order is issued, the party who is restrained by the temporary order may attend a hearing within 10 days to contest the issuance of a final domestic violence protective order, which may stay in effect for up to one year.

The domestic violence protective order (sometimes referred to as a restraining order) can provide tremendous relief if you are a victim of domestic abuse. The order may prohibit your abuser from making any contact with you, in person, by phone or by other means. You may also be awarded temporary use and possession of the marital residence, automobile, and temporary child custody.

Keeping Children Safe: Emergency Custody Orders

If the other parent presents an immediate danger to your child, you may seek an emergency temporary custody order. Grounds for a court to grant an emergency temporary custody order may include:

  • Substance abuse by a parent

  • Abandonment

  • Threatening or careless behavior


If the actions of the other parent are endangering your child’s health, steps should be taken right away to start the process of obtaining an order of protection. It is crucial to speak with a lawyer who has experience in this specific area of child custody law and the tenacity to protect your child’s rights in an urgent fashion.

Arrested On A Domestic Assault Charge?

When a domestic violence order is entered, it means that a Court has made a finding that domestic violence has occurred. Such a finding has a direct impact on a Court’s determination of issues in a divorce, including child custody and possibly alimony as well. If a temporary order has been issued, contact a family law attorney immediately to protect your rights.

Contact Our Experienced Attorney

Call at (704)288-4096 or email to set-up an initial consultation to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable Union County family law attorney, contact the Monroe, NC, office of Lundell Law Firm.


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