What A 50(b) Can Do For Victims
The 50(b) Order demands and orders that the abuser stay away from and not assault, threaten or harass the victim and her children (or just the victim if there are no children). The order can also give many other specific types of emergency assistance, including:
· Grant a party possession of the residence or household of the parties and exclude the other party from the residence or household;
· Require a party to provide a spouse and his or her children suitable alternate housing;
· Award temporary custody of minor children and establish a temporary safe visitation plan;
· Order the eviction of a party from the residence and order assistance to the victim returning to the home;
· Order either party to make child support statements;
· Provide for possession of personal property of the parties (such as the more reliable car);
· Order a party to refrain from doing any or all of the following:
(a) Threatening, abusing or following the other party;
(b) Harassing the other party, including by telephone, visiting the home or workplace, or other means; or
(c) Interfering with the other party;
· Order the batterer to stay away from the victim’s school and places where the children live or go to daycare or school;
· Award either party court costs and attorney’s fees;
· Order the defendant not to possess or purchase any firearms for a time fixed in the order;
· Order any party the court finds is responsible for acts of domestic violence to attend and complete an abuser treatment program if the program is available within a reasonable distance of that party’s residence and is approved by the Department of Administration (e.g. In Charlotte, the NOVA program.);
· Include any additional prohibitions or requirements the court deems necessary to protect any party or any minor child.
50(b) Extension -
Original or succeeding 50(b)s may be renewed upon application to the Court for up to one additional year. Thus, it is possible that 50(b)s could be renewed indefinitely, in up to one-year increments, without new incidents of domestic violence. The law does not clarify whether a victim has to file for renewal before or after the 50(b) expires; so, it is safer to apply for an extension of the 50(b) about two weeks before it is schedule to expire. If the 50(b) does expire, new acts of domestic violence will have to occur for a 50(b) to be considered again.
Legal Representation -
50(b)s do not require legal representation. However, there are circumstances in which it would be advisable to call your local Legal Services office or Bar Association and request a free attorney. If you do not qualify financially for a free attorney, you can try to hire a local private attorney. At this point, you can let them know that they can request attorneys’ fees from the batterer in your court case. The circumstances in which you would do well to seek some form of legal representation are as follows below:
1. The batterer shows up in court with an attorney. In this case you are best served to ask the judge to postpone your hearing (this is known as a continuance) and to extend your emergency Ex Parte 50(b) Order until the new hearing so that you can request an attorney from Legal Services.
2. The evidence is too complex, e.g. using medical records or statements in medical records. The same request may be advisable.
3. The testimony of a doctor or other expert witness is required. The same request may be advisable.
4. Where the last incident(s) of physical abuse were over a year ago. The same request may be advisable.
5. Where the only or only recent domestic violence was threat. The same request may be advisable.
6. Where the battered cannot speak well for her/himself, perhaps just because of feeling intimidated by the abuser, because of a language barrier, or difficulties in mental functioning. The same request may be advisable.
7. Where there are issues regarding child sexual abuse. The same request may be advisable.
Miscellaneous Information Regarding the 50(b) Process -
Most people needing 50(b) protection are in a crisis situation. The process is designed to help you in an emergency. This means that you may seek Ex Parte Relief which provides that a no contact order be in effect until the hearing which is usually within the week. In this case, upon court approval, immediate protection goes into place and the batterer is ordered to stay away from the victim and make no contact of any kind. If you have time to gather evidence, such as written threats or abusive language, voice mails or photos of past abuse or records/journals of abuse where dates and incidents are recounted with as much accuracy as possible, then the time to do this will serve your cause well. You may need to first file the complaint in order to secure your safety and then take the time to gather all evidence before the hearing.
The 50(b) is part of a total process of investment in freedom from domestic violence in all its forms.