The Mecklenburg County Stay-at-Home order for county residents went into effect on March 26, 2020 and the State of North Carolina executive Order went into effect on March 30, 2020. While the stay-at-home orders are meant to address the public health crisis of COVID-19, it also leaves many vulnerable to abuse. Headlines in local and national news sound the alarm that there is greater danger with the stay-home-orders to victims of domestic violence. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department has received 517 more domestic violence calls in March 2020 than March 2019.
In our family law practice at Dozier Miller Law Group, too often we see first-hand the devastating effects domestic violence has on our clients, their children, and the community as a whole. If you or your child is in danger, it is time to seek help, make a plan, and leave. Here are some immediate steps to take:
- Call 911: If you or your child is in danger, call 911, and do not hesitate to do so.
- Seek Help and Talk to Someone: Talk about what is happening with family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers. To get help or information in Mecklenburg County, call Safe Alliance’s Greater Charlotte Hope Line at 980-771-HOPE (4673); if you reside outside of Mecklenburg County, call the National Domestic Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
- Make a Safety Plan: A safety plan is meant to keep you and your child safe. In general, when making a safety plans, ask yourself the following questions: who can I call, where can I go to be safe, and what should I include in my emergency bag (g., money, clothes, copies of important documents, and copies of keys).
- Seek a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO): Contact one of Dozier Miller’s family law attorney to seek a DVPO and do it sooner rather than later.
We are here for you and can assist clients navigate the court system to obtain Domestic Violence Protective Orders. The North Carolina statute defines domestic violence as the commission of one or more of the following acts upon a party or upon a minor child of the party by a person with whom the party has or has had a personal relationship: (1) Attempting to cause bodily injury, or intentionally causing bodily injury; or (2) Placing the aggrieved party or a member of the aggrieved party’s family or household in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment that rises to such a level as to inflict substantial emotional distress; or (3) Committing any act defined in G.S. 14-27.21 through G.S. 14-27.33. Any person residing in North Carolina may seek relief by filing a civil action alleging acts of domestic violence against himself or herself or a minor child, and a party may move the court for emergency relief if he or she believes there is a danger of serious and immediate injury to himself or herself or a minor child.
If the court finds that an act of domestic violence has occurred, the court may grant a protective order restraining the defendant from further acts of domestic violence. The Order may also include additional relief such as granting possession of the residence, awarding temporary custody of minor child(ren), ordering payments for child support, ordering a defendant not to assault, threaten, abuse, follow, harass (by telephone, visiting the home or workplace, or other means), and prohibit a party from purchasing a firearm.
Domestic violence does not discriminate. No gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status is exempt. Whether you, a friend, or family member is suffering from domestic violence, remember you are not alone. There are organizations like Safe Alliance, and law firms like Dozier Miller Law Group that can help. Contact a family law attorney at Dozier Miller Law Group by telephone 704-372-6373, or by e-mail:
Amanda B. Cannavo ([email protected])
Timothy H. Graham ([email protected])
Robert P. Hanner, II ([email protected])
Allison P. Holstein ([email protected])
David M. McCleary ([email protected])
Todd Owens ([email protected])
Kimberly R. Robertson ([email protected])
Scott T. Pollard
Richard D. Stephens