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*Note that some of these answers may change.  Consult an attorney if you have legal questions, and contact the Clerk of Court in your county if you have questions about court procedure or your court dates.

updated 9/9/2020

Can I still file a Complaint for a Domestic Violence Protection Order and temporary Ex Parte Order?

Yes.  In some counties Judges are less available than normal.  If a Judge is not available to hear a Motion for an Ex Parte Order, you can file with a Magistrate.  If you are unsure where to go, you should contact your local law enforcement to ask what the protocol is in your area.

In some counties cases will be continued out as soon as they are filed.  It is your responsibility to keep track of your court date.  Contact the Clerk of Court in your county if you are unsure.

I filed a Complaint for a Domestic Violence Protection Order.  Do I need to go to court during COVID-19, or will it be continued?

Yes.  Domestic Violence Protection Order hearings are still being heard by the courts in all counties in our service area.  Both the plaintiff and defendant are required to attend.  If you miss a court date, it is very possible that your case will be dismissed, even while the Stay At Home Order is in effect.

Some counties, including Mitchell County, are holding hearings via Zoom in certain cases.

If you have a medical condition that puts you at serious risk, or if you plan not to attend court because of concern for exposure, your case MIGHT STILL BE DISMISSED if you fail to appear.  If you choose not to attend, we strongly suggest that you to let the Clerk of Court for the domestic violence cases in your county know:

  1. in writing (such as email or a written Motion to Continue);
  2. that you are requesting a continuance; and
  3. the medical or other compelling reason that you are seeking a continuance.

While there is NO guarantee that your case will be continued, it might be more likely to be continued with a written request.  It is always advisable to communicate with an attorney before communicating directly with the Court.

We also suggest that you include a safe phone number to contact you, and to be ready to attend court on time if you are instructed to do so.

I have a Custody or a Divorce case pending.  Will that case be continued?

No, not necessarily.  Cases are still being heard and you should NOT assume that your case is being continued.  Verify with the family court clerk or your attorney to confirm the date of any pending cases as needed.  Also note that some of those cases may be held virtually, through a remote hearing.  It is important to communicate with the clerk to determine when your case will be heard, and in what format.

Some cases still being heard include emergency cases, orders due to family court judges, phone conferences with just attorneys, or other cases as judges deem appropriate.

I have a Custody Order that directs me to exchange custody of my child(ren) with the other parent.  Should I exchange custody with the other parent during COVID-19?

Yes.  You are still required to follow court orders to the extent possible.  It is advisable to exercise social distancing of 6 feet or more, sanitizing, and other precautions during any custody exchanges.

If there is a serious risk to you or another’s safety (if someone has symptoms of coronavirus or has been diagnosed) and you feel unsafe doing a custody exchange, you should notify your attorney or the other party.  Keep in mind that failing to follow a court order could be a factor in a court’s analysis of what is in the best interest of the child during future litigation.

The Family Visitation Program at the Mediation Center is planning to offer supervised visitations by video conference in some cases.

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The information provided on this website is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please contact Pisgah Legal Services or a private attorney if you need to speak with an attorney regarding your specific situation. You can apply online for Pisgah Legal at www.pisgahlegal.org/free-legal-assistance or call 1-800-489-6144.