Domestic violence victim fights for custody of her children…
A sample of cases handled by Legal Aid of North Carolina

[NOTE:  This is an actual case submitted by an attorney from the Legal Aid of North Carolina office in Greensboro, NC.]
After fleeing with her children to a domestic violence shelter, a Guilford County woman needed prompt legal assistance to help her avoid losing custody of her children.  The domestic violence shelter had contacted the Legal Aid of North Carolina office in Greensboro, NC to help the woman.

Although he had been the perpetrator of the domestic violence, the adverse party ("Mr. A") had immediately filed a 50B order against the mother to ask the Court for custody of the children.

The mother did not want the children to have to return to the home of "Mr. A", especially after their witness to the domestic violence incident.  The Legal Aid attorney advised the mother to file a 50B order for custody of the children.  However, the magistrate did not allow the mother to file her 50B order.  While the domestic violence shelter held off the service of Mr. A’s 50B, the Legal Aid attorney prepared and submitted an emergency custody order, which gave the mother emergency custody and superceded Mr. A’s 50B order.

Because of the emergency custody order, the children were allowed to remain with the mother when the sheriff came to the shelter to serve the 50B order.

Both the emergency hearing and the 50B hearing were held on the same day. In the emergency hearing, the Legal Aid attorney successfully negotiated a memorandum of judgment order, which provided limited, no-overnight visitation for Mr. A and the settlement of some of the property issues.  The mother was granted custody of the children. The adverse party’s 50B hearing was dismissed for failure to prosecute.

"This was a situation in which Legal Aid had to work quickly with the domestic violence center to block a move which would have allowed the children to return to the perpetrator of the domestic violence," noted the Legal Aid attorney. "Fortunately, the shelter quickly recognized this need and knew that Legal Aid was available to help.  The domestic violence had been severe enough that the shelter counselor later referred one of the children to mental health and then to a private behavioral center."


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Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity.


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