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Lawmaker seeks to change language on domestic violence forms

When someone is seeking to protect themselves from an abusive partner, they typically seek to fill out a government form for an order of protection. However, in North Carolina, same-sex couples dealing with domestic violence issues may have difficulty completing this paperwork. This is because in the state, the paperwork required for an order of protection in a domestic case only has categories for opposite-sex couples, unmarried individuals with a child and household members.

Some may think that changing the language on a government form is a simple fix, but in reality legislation is needed to make it happen. That is because forms follow statutory language. In order for the form to change the applicable statute needs to change first.

The lawmaker pursuing this matter noted that North Carolina's marriage statute has not been updated to include language about same-sex marriages. Despite the lack of legislation, nearly four years ago courts ruled that disallowing same-sex marriage is not constitutional. Up until this point, judges have encouraged lawyers to fill out orders of protection by checking off "of opposite sex" on the form, even if the couple are not heterosexual.

Protection orders are a significant part of how domestic violence cases are handled in North Carolina. In Mecklenburg County alone, Sheriff's deputies served over 3,400 orders last year. This is an increase of 19 percent since 2013. Those who are served with such an order or are faced with criminal domestic violence charges should seek legal counsel from a defense lawyer in the area.

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