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Defending against domestic violence charges is already important. A conviction could come with penalties ranging from probation and anger management classes to jail time and protective orders for felony charges.

Defending against domestic violence charges while going through a divorce is even more important, because a conviction will also lay heavily on your divorce proceedings. You may lose your ability to see your children, live in your residence, or be forced to pay more child support on top of the criminal penalties that come with a domestic violence conviction.

Understanding How North Carolina Handles Domestic Violence

Before we talk about how domestic violence charges affect divorce rulings, let’s review the definition of domestic violence in North Carolina. Domestic violence charges can be made if the following has occurred:

  • Bodily injury
  • Sexual assault
  • Threats to cause bodily injury

Domestic violence is specific to two people who have a relationship together, including spouses, a parent and child, significant others, or roommates. 

What Happens When Divorce Enters Into the Picture?

Domestic violence charges have an impact on every area of divorce proceedings, but it is most significant when it comes to child custody. North Carolina bases its child custody decisions off of what is best for the child. Sole or joint custody may be awarded, with guidelines for visitation.

If one parent has been convicted of domestic violence, the courts will take that into consideration while making their decision. A single incident of domestic violence will have less of an impact than multiple convictions or incidents of domestic violence. Even with a domestic violence conviction, you may be awarded some custody or visitation rights, but you will need strong evidence to prove that this is best for your child.

Another option that North Carolina considers is supervised visitation. It allows you to visit your child, but will take place under the supervision of an authorized adult. This decision may be enforced temporarily or permanently, based on what a judge believes is best for the child. While this may seem like a frustrating or inconvenient compromise, remember that supervision can be lifted, and that any time with your child is better than no time at all.

Often, domestic violence convictions will be accompanied by protective orders (more commonly known as restraining orders.) Final domestic violence protective orders can last for up to one year, and may include the following:

  • Loss of ability to contact the person filing the protective order or his or her child
  • Loss of child custody or visitation rights
  • Loss of personal property (which may then be awarded to your ex during the divorce)
  • Loss of ability to live in your home/residence
  • Order to pay spousal (alimony) or child support

Violating these protective orders will result in class A1 misdemeanor charges, and you may have to spend up to 60 days in jail if convicted.

Protective orders can affect every area of divorce proceedings (alimony, child custody, division of property, and so on). A domestic violence conviction in the midst of divorce proceedings can mean that you suffer big losses when it’s time for the judge to make his or her final ruling.

Defending Against Domestic Violence Charges

Defending Against Domestic Violence Charges

Luckily, there are ways to defend against a domestic violence charge. Avoiding a conviction will save you from the heartbreak of not being able to raise your child, give you the ability to divide marital property fairly, and enable you to continue divorce proceedings without facing criminal consequences. Get in contact with us today to get started on your defense.


About the Author:

Jan Elliott Pritchett
 is Managing Partner at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett and one of North Carolina’s top rated criminal defense attorneys. With a practice dedicated 100% to litigation, Mr. Pritchett protects the legal rights of clients who have been charged in federal and state criminal matters, as well as DUI/DWi, motor vehicle accidents, personal injury, and traffic violations. In practice since 1995, Mr. Pritchett has earned a reputation as a highly talented and fearless lawyer, being listed among the state’s “Legal Elite” and recognized as one of the Top 100 DWI Lawyers in North Carolina by the National Advocacy of DUI Defense.  He currently serves as the Co-Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization, Criminal Law Specialty, and Vice-Chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section.

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