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New Identities for Domestic Violence Victims

When North Carolina courts grant domestic violence protective orders (DVPOs) to victims, the orders legally prohibit the offender from contacting them.

These orders also offer many protections such as temporary/emergency child custody or exclusive use of a vehicle. One effective feature of the orders is police response time. Ordinarily, people cannot be arrested for merely appearing at someone’s place of business or residence. The DVPO requires law enforcement to arrest someone merely for being present at a given location if they are violating the order. The court also has the authority to renew (i.e., extend) a DVPO. Although these orders are civil in nature, it is a crime if the order is violated. There is certainly a stigma associated with having a DVPO entered against someone. However, there are those cases in which the offender does not care about the stigma, the criminal consequences or anything else. To them, a court order is just a piece of paper.

What can be done to further protect a victim chooses to flee?

There are many ways a person who truly wants to locate a victim can do so. Many of those ways are part of the public record, but other ways are not. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers a way for domestic violence victims to help them change their social security numbers.  The SSA web site has user accounts that are password protected, frequently used for things such as earnings history and other records. Victims can request the online account be blocked so no one can access it. In most situations, a victim can apply to the court to have a legal name change. If a victims has obtained a name change through the court process, a new social security card is issued that reflects the new name.  The North Carolina Department of Justice offers the Address Confidentiality Program, which allows victims to have mail forwarded to them by the use a substitute mailing address.  See their brochure. The Department of Justice site has helpful resources.

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Amy A. Edwards is a family law attorney in Greenville, NC, certified by the NC State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Family Law Specialist, and is licensed only in NC. Laws change. This article is current as of October 2015. www.AmyEdwardsFamilyLaw.com  © 2015.

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