Legal Forms Information


Family Court


Domestic Violence:

Form 50B:

A domestic violence protective order, also called a restraining order or a 50B is an order signed by the judge that tells the alleged abuser to stop the abuse and provides civil legal protection from domestic violence to both men and women victims.
There are two types of domestic violence protective orders: an ex parte/temporary protective order and a final domestic violence protective order (also called a DVPO or a 50B order or a restraining order).

To participate in the program, litigants should:

  1. An ex parte/temporary protective order is a court order designed to provide both the victim and the victim’s family members with immediate protection from the abuser for ten days. The judge may issue it on the same day as the complaint is filed because of a hearing, if the judge believes that there is a serious and immediate danger to the victim or the victim’s child. If the judge does not issue the ex parte order on the same day, the court must hear the request for an ex parte order within 72 hours or by the end of the next day on which the court is in session in the county of the filing (whichever occurs first). An ex parte order is usually issued without the abuser present. It will not be enforced until the other party is served with a copy of the order. The ex parte protective order will protect the victim from the time the ex parte order is entered until the full court hearing takes place, usually within ten days.
  2. A final domestic violence protective order may be awarded after a full court hearing. The abuser has to be served with notice of the hearing so he or she has an opportunity to attend. The hearing allows the other party the opportunity to defend him or herself. If a final domestic violence protective order is awarded after a full court hearing, it will last up to one year and provide protection determined in the hearing. The victim may ask the court to extend the final domestic violence protective order for an additional two years (with the exception of custody provisions), but must do so before it initially expires.

The 50B forms are available in the SelfServe Center. Once the documents have been filled out, they should be filed with the Clerk of Court. Then the judge, in a hearing, will determine whether or not to issue the ex parte order immediately, or to hear the request in a separate hearing within 72 hours.

For further information about domestic violence situations, these are some resources available:

Legal Aid of North Carolina
Safe Alliance

Form 50C:

The 50C Civil No-Contact Order provides protection from non-consensual sexual conduct and stalking from someone that the victim does NOT have an intimate or familial relationship with, such as an acquaintance, co-worker, neighbor or stranger.

In a Civil No Contact Order, a judge can order the alleged abuser or stalker to stop all non-consensual sexual conduct, or to stop stalking the victim and to stay away from him or her. A temporary order is designed to provide immediate protection from the abuser/stalker, and may be issued by the judge on the same day that the complaint is filed. This is usually issued without the abuser/stalker present if the judge believes that there is a serious and immediate danger to the victim. The order will generally last for up to 10 days, until the court can schedule a hearing where the abuser/stalker can be present. The temporary order is not valid until the abuser/stalker is served with a copy of the order.

The permanent Civil No Contact Order may be awarded after a full court hearing. The abuser/stalker has to be served with notice of the hearing, so that he or she may have the opportunity to attend. At the hearing both parties will have a chance to present evidence, witnesses, and testimony to prove their case. If awarded, the permanent Civil No Contact Order lasts for 1 year, and may be extended if the extension is filed before the 1 year expires.

Both the temporary order and the permanent order provide similar protection, however the temporary order is only in place until a permanent order may be awarded.


Domestic Relations:

Absolute Divorce:

An absolute divorce in North Carolina is a complete divorce that allows the parties to marry again after their divorce has become final. Either party is eligible to file for an absolute divorce if the husband and wife have been continuously living separate and apart for at least one year, AND one of the parties has lived in North Carolina for at least six (6) months prior to filing for divorce.

In North Carolina, living separately and apart occurs on the date that a husband and wife move into separate residences with the intent to continue living apart from one another. Isolated incidents of sexual intercourse do not stop the statutory one-year period, provided that such incidents do not amount to a resumption of marital relations. North Carolina does not require that the parties file for legal separation or have a written separation agreement. However, often parties will consult with an attorney to draft a separation agreement that outlines issues of property settlement, alimony, child custody, or child support. These types of agreements, once signed by both parties, are binding as contracts.

It is important to determine such issues of alimony, property division, and child custody/support prior to the entry of the divorce judgment. Why? Because an absolute divorce terminates any such rights to marital property, post-separation support, and/or alimony.

The divorce process involves three steps:

  1. Filling out and then filing the appropriate documents with the Clerk of Court;
  2. Serving the documents on the other party in accordance with Rule 4 of the North Carolina General Statutes for service of process. Serving the documents must be completed in one of three ways: both parties meeting at a notary; having the sheriff deliver the documents; or by certified/registered mail, return receipt;
  3. Filling out and filing the Motion for Summary Judgment and Notice of Hearing with the Clerk of Court asking the judge to grant the divorce.

In the divorce complaint, a party may petition the court to resume a maiden name or a pre-marriage last name.

The entire process of filing for divorce typically takes anywhere from 45 to 60 days.

Custody:

Any parent, relative, or other person, agency, or organization or institution claiming the right to custody of a minor child may institute an action or proceeding for custody of the child. In filing for custody, it is important to have a plan of care to ensure the safety, well-being, and quality of life for the child or children. North Carolina gives both the mother and father protected rights regarding the child or children.

Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions regarding the child’s health, religious upbringing, education and general welfare. Joint legal custody allows both parents equally to share decision-making authority over the child’s health, religious upbringing, education and general welfare. Sole legal custody gives only one person decision-making authority regarding the child’s health, religious upbringing, education and general welfare. This person might be the parent or another family member, such as a grandparent or aunt.

Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to the physical care and supervision of the child. Primary physical custody means the child spends the majority of his or her overnights with one parent. Secondary custody (or visitation) means the child spends fewer overnights with the second parent. Parties can share physical custody (joint physical custody) or one person can have exclusive physical custody (sole physical custody).

A party may file for legal custody of a minor child if that child has been living in North Carolina for at least six (6) months prior to the filing. There must not be any signed court order in place regarding the child from this state or another. If there is a signed court order in place, then North Carolina might not have jurisdiction and filing an initial custody order might not be appropriate. If Child Protective Services of the Department of Social Services has removed the child from his or her home and placed him or her with a family member or outside caregiver pursuant to a court order under Chapter 7B, then custody must be determined by Juvenile Court, not Family Court because Chapter 7B supersedes Chapter 50.

There are two requirements of ALL parties filing for custody in North Carolina:

  1. Attend the Parent Education Classes;
  2. Attend the mediation session(s) to reach an agreement regarding custody of the child or children.

* If the parties are unable to reach an agreement during mediation, then the case will be set for trial, and the judge will determine what will happen with respect to the child.

Parenting Education Classes educate the parties on how a separation or a divorce impacts the child, and how one parent’s actions toward the other parent may impact the child. There is a sliding-scale fee for the Parent Education Classes. If you find the course fee to be a financial hardship, you may discuss a reduced fee upon registering for the classes. This reduction may not always be granted. If a party fails to attend either of these classes, it will delay the custody case, and may result in a fine.

Visitation:

Visitation is the right of the child to have a relationship with both parents when they do not live together, NOT the right of the parent to have visitation with the child. Visitation generally refers to the custodial time assigned to the parent with whom a child does not primarily reside. The same principles apply to visitation as to custody with respect to the best interests of the child, parental rights, and the child’s wishes. There are no generally rules about when and how much visitation the non-custodial parent should get. That depends on various factors, including the ages of the children, the children’s schedules, how far apart the parents live, and the work schedules of the parents. Like with custody, the parties may agree on visitation with a Visitation Agreement, mediation, or with a judicial decision.

During the process of determining visitation, both parties are required to attend the Parenting Education classes.

Child support and visitation are not connected in any way as the court reviews them independently.

Child Support:

North Carolina law holds that both mothers and fathers have an obligation to provide financial support for their children. Parents may choose to come to an arrangement out of court for an agreed-upon amount based on North Carolina statutory guidelines or the court can issue a child support order when the parents cannot agree on a specified amount. The most common methods of child support payments are wage withholding, direct or automatic deposit, or cash payments in monthly or weekly installments. Child support is paid to the custodial party by the non-custodial party. Child support payments cease when the child has either graduated high school or turns 18, whichever date is later. However, the parties may agree that child support will continue for post-secondary education.

Prior to filing for child support, the child must have lived in North Carolina for the six (6) months preceding the filing, or since birth if less than six (6) months. If a party is registering a child support order or seeking Child Support Enforcement, these are the services offered: North Carolina Family Courts or Child Support Enforcement. Child Support Enforcement (CSE) is a federal program that manages the collection and disbursement of all ordered child support payments in the state and provides representation when there is a failure to pay child support. If there is a failure to pay through the North Carolina Family Courts, it is the collecting party’s responsibility to represent him or herself or hire an attorney to enforce the collection.

The process of filing for child support involves three steps:

  1. Filling out and filing the appropriate documents with Clerk of Court;
  2. Serving the documents on the other party following Rule 4 of the North Carolina General Statutes for service of process. Service of the documents must be done in one of the following ways: by the sheriff; certified/registered mail with return receipt; or publication as a last resort if the party’s address is unknown and the two previous methods were unsuccessful;
  3. Attending the hearing to determine the outcome of the child support.

If a child support order has been entered already, a Modification of Child Support pleading should be filed instead.


Criminal Cases

Expungement

If a person is charged with a crime in North Carolina and the charge is dismissed or is found not guilty, that person may apply to the court in the county where the charge was brought for an order to expunge from all official public records any entries related to his/her apprehension or trial. A crime is either a misdemeanor or felony. Most traffic violations are infractions and do not qualify for expungement.

According to the state of North Carolina, you may be eligible for expungement if:

  • Before you were 18 years old, you were convicted of a misdemeanor crime
  • Before you were 21 years old, you were convicted of misdemeanor possession of alcohol
  • You were charged with a crime, but found not guilty or the case was dismissed
  • Charges were dismissed because you were the victim of identity theft
  • You were pardoned on criminal charges

A person may be disqualified from expungement if that person has had an expungement already. You are entitled to one expungement in your lifetime in North Carolina. A person may also be denied expungement if that person has previously been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony and/or has currently pending criminal charges.

To obtain an expungement, you are required to submit the following forms to the clerk of the court in the county where the original charges were filed. These include:

  • A motion for expungement of your criminal record
  • An expungement order
  • A request and reports for conviction/expungement dismissal and discharge form

DWI/ DUI/ Impaired Driving

A person commits the offense of impaired driving if he drives any vehicle upon any highway, any street, or any public vehicular area within this State:

  • While under the influence of an impairing substance
  • After having consumed alcohol he has, at any relevant time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. The results of a chemical analysis shall be deemed sufficient evidence to prove a person’s alcohol concentration
  • With any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance or its metabolites in his blood or urine.

Impaired driving as defined in this section is a misdemeanor.

Information on the basic and “minimum” penalties for a DWI in North Carolina are provided here: http://dui.drivinglaws.org/ncarolina.php

Limited Driving Privileges

A limited driving privilege is a judgment issued by a court authorizing a person with a revoked driver’s license to drive for essential purposes under specified terms and conditions. The court may issue limited driving privileges to a person for purposes related to that person’s employment, education, maintenance of his household, his court-ordered treatment or assessment, community service ordered by probation, or emergency medical care.

A person may be ineligible to apply for a limited driving privilege if:

  • The person’s underlying offense involved impaired driving
  • The person has pending charges for any motor vehicle offense in this or in any other state and has unpaid motor vehicle fines or penalties in this or in any other state
  • The person’s drivers license issued by another state has been revoked by that state

Upon the issuance of a limited driving privilege by a court under this Chapter, the applicant or petitioner must pay, in addition to any other costs associated with obtaining the privilege, a processing fee of one hundred dollars ($100.00). The applicant or petitioner shall pay this fee to the clerk of superior court in the county in which the limited driving privilege is issued.


Civil Cases

Complaint for District Court

A person wishing to file a civil lawsuit claiming an amount up to $10,000 may file a claim in civil district court. If you wish to file a civil lawsuit in excess of $10,000 you must file your case in Superior Court. The Defendant in this action must be a resident of Mecklenburg County.

To complete this action you will need the following documents:

  • Complaint
  • Civil Summons
  • Affidavit of Service of Process by Registered of Certified Mail
  • Notice of Address Change (if necessary)
  • These forms are available on location at the SelfServe Center and provide further instruction.

    The filing fee for this action is $150 payable by cash or money order only. Upon the completion of your forms, you will take your documents and your payment to the Civil Clerk’s Office to file.

    Motion for District Court

    A motion is a request made to a court or judge for purposes of obtaining a rule or order directing something to be done in favor of the applicant. You must have an existing case or plan on filing a case in Mecklenburg County in order to file a Motion.

    To complete action you will need the following documents:

  • Motion
  • Certificate of Service
  • Notice of Motion
  • These forms are available on location at the SelfServe Center and provide further instruction.

    There is no filing fee for this action. Upon the completion of your forms, you will go to the Civil Clerk’s Office to file.

    Answer for District Court

    An answer is a response to a complaint that has been filed against you. These forms will allow you to tell the judge which parts of the plaintiff’s compliant you agree and disagree with. You must file these forms within 30 days of receiving the plaintiff’s complaint.

    To complete this action you will need the following documents:

  • Answer to Complaint
  • Certificate of Service
  • These forms are available on location at the SelfServe Center and provide further instruction.

    There is no filing fee for this action. Upon the completion of your forms, you will go to the Civil Clerk’s Office to file.

    Answer and Counterclaim for District Court

    An answer is a response to a complaint that has been filed against you. A counterclaim is a claim made by the defendant against the plaintiff in the same lawsuit. These forms will allow you to tell the judge which parts of the plaintiff’s compliant you agree and disagree with and what claims you are making against the plaintiff. You must file these forms within 30 days of receiving the plaintiff’s complaint.

    To complete this action you will need the following documents:

  • Answer and Counterclaim
  • Certificate of Service
  • These forms are available on location at the SelfServe Center and provide further instruction.

    There is no filing fee for this action. Upon the completion of your forms, you will go to the Civil Clerk’s Office to file.