Ex-Police Dispatcher Challenges NC Cohabitation Ban

March 30, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - North Carolina's cohabitation law has been challenged by an ex-sheriff's dispatcher who quit her position after her boss discovered that she was living with her boyfriend.

Plaintiff Debora Hobbs, of Wilmington, North Carolina, said she was told to get married, move out or find another job after her boss’s discovery, the Associated Press reported. The legal arm of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina filed the lawsuit Monday on her behalf.

According to the report, the lawsuit seeks to throw out the nearly 200-year-old and rarely enforced law that prohibits unmarried, unrelated adults of the opposite sex from living together. North Carolina is one of seven states with such a law. Convicted offenders face a fine and up to 60 days in jail.

The news report said Hobbs had been living with her boyfriend for about three years when she was hired as a Pender County 911 dispatcher in February 2004. The couple decided they didn’t want to marry.

Sheriff Carson Smith said last year that Hobbs’ employment was a moral issue as well as a legal question. He said he tries to avoid hiring people who openly live together, but that he doesn’t send out deputies to enforce the law.