Arlaine Rockey, Experienced Trial Attorney


Arlaine Rockey

Experienced Trial Attorney

Passion. Experience. Diligence.


Arlaine Rockey

Arlaine Rockey work photo 8-12-19 A.jpg

Arlaine Rockey is known as an attorney who pays attention to details, investigates all the facts, explores all the evidence, has worked with numerous expert witnesses, is empathetic to her clients’ situations, is creative in finding solutions, and in court is tenacious and undaunted in representing her clients. Arlaine has been practicing law since 1989. She was inspired to attend law school because she wanted to help battered women.

At the University of Miami School of Law, she completed a Summer Honors Program in Children and the Law, during which she became a Guardian ad Litem for children in foster care Juvenile Court cases. Arlaine was the President of the Association for Women Law Students for two years. She was a clinical law student intern in her last year at the Miami State Attorney’s Office, doing traffic cases and also working in the Domestic Crimes Unit, helping with the prosecution of domestic violence cases, which was then one of only five such divisions in the country. The founder and head of that unit became her mentor and lifelong friend.

After graduation, Arlaine’s first job was in the Juvenile Unit at Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. where she represented children, many teenagers, who were in foster care in multiple forums: in their Juvenile Court cases; in schools with regard to their special education needs (attending IEP meetings and advocating for needed services); and in mental health cases when they were committed to psychiatric inpatient hospitalization and with reference to finding them appropriate therapeutic placement and services. Arlaine also worked on the grassroots effort that helped lead to the Florida Bar’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program for public interest attorneys.

In 1991, Arlaine moved back home to Charlotte, NC, where she was in private practice, solo and then with her sister, who is also a lawyer. While studying for the NC Bar exam, Arlaine had learned that marital rape was still legal in North Carolina, meaning that husbands could not be prosecuted for sexually assaulting their wives if it occurred prior to their separation (and most did). Sexual abuse is frequently a type of domestic violence. Soon after Arlaine was admitted to the NC Bar, Arlaine started what became a statewide umbrella grassroots organization, ARMR, that was successful in eliminating the marital rape exemption in 1993, after an 18 month exhaustive two-pronged effort. The first avenue was seeking legislative reform in the NC General Assembly. Arlaine co-chaired the statewide non-partisan ARMR organization and chaired the litigation committee. In conjunction with what was then the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund, ARMR at the same time was also preparing a class action lawsuit to challenge the marital rape exemption in court, based on Arlaine’s legal theory that the rape victims could challenge the constitutionality of the exemption on equal protection grounds because, in this situation, prosecutors had no discretion whether or not to prosecute — the exemption was a complete bar to prosecution. ARMR let it be known to the General Assembly that should the legislative repeal effort not succeed, ARMR was prepared to literally make it a federal case, as an added incentive for legislators to do the right thing. Arlaine and many others testified in the General Assembly. She spoke to various groups, like the NC Conference of District Attorneys to get them on board, which was not that easy at a time before there were specialized Domestic Violence prosecution units in North Carolina. Arlaine also wrote editorials, was interviewed by various media organizations, and helped get religious communities on board, and get all the women who were in the General Assembly (Democrat and Republican) to support the legislation. The marital rape exemption was based on the “Unity Theory” of British Common Law — when a man and a woman married, they became one legal entity — the man — and the woman ceased to exist legally. The marital rape exemption was a “logical” extension of the Unity Theory, as a man could not be prosecuted for raping himself. It is hard to describe just how difficult it was to get the strong majority male General Assembly to repeal this archaic law. In an earlier attempt at repeal, one male NC legislator quipped, “If a man can’t rape his wife, who can he rape?” When Arlaine began ARMR, she was told by many people that she could not succeed. Seeing the marital rape exemption repealed (NCGS §14-27.34) remains her most impactful accomplishment to date, although she is currently working to top it.

Arlaine joined Legal Services of Southern Piedmont (“LSSP”) in Charlotte in 1993 and was the Family Law Team Leader for their three offices until 1999. She represented battered women in domestic violence protective order cases and in child custody cases, many that also involved child physical and/or sexual abuse as well. Arlaine also represented many parents in DSS / CPS Juvenile Court cases involving abuse, neglect, substance abuse, and mental health issues.

While at LSSP, Arlaine helped get the Standby Guardianship Law enacted with another lawyer from the then Children’s Law Center. At the time, AIDS had been a fatal illness and the epidemic had been destroying families (biological and families of choice) for a decade. Arlaine found out that her best friend from law school had AIDS. She felt helpless to do anything to save him. She found out that many children were being orphaned when their parents died from AIDS and also that their parents needed help to care for their children at times they were very ill, so their children would not end up in foster care. Arlaine decided to work on the Standby Guardianship legislation as a way to do something positive. Arlaine and others spoke to the General Assembly, built a large coalition of support, and drafted the legislation, which passed (NCGS §35A-1370 et seq.).

Arlaine also started the first pro se custody clinic in Charlotte to help people, with relatively simple cases who could not afford to hire an attorney, do their own custody cases, while at LSSP. It is now run by the Self Help Center at the Courthouse in Mecklenburg County. She also started a legal clinic at the Courthouse to help battered women get their domestic violence protective orders themselves because there were not enough free (pro bono) lawyers to represent them all. Arlaine also co-wrote the screenplays for and helped get produced two training videos regarding domestic violence protective orders, one for the pro se plaintiffs and another to train volunteer lawyers to represent many of them.

Since 1999, Arlaine has been in private practice, doing many of the same types of cases she did at LSSP, as well as criminal defense cases. Since 2002, she has been representing parents trying to protect their children from physical and/or sexual abuse and domestic violence (called “protective parents”) nationally. There are not many attorneys who focus on representing protective parents. These parents, who are most often mothers, have a tremendously difficult time protecting their children in the family court system. The patterns are the same all over the country. See Arlaine’s article, “Protecting Your Child from Sexual Abuse” that explains the complicated issues in these cases, and also provides some strategy suggestions for all protective parents in custody cases. Arlaine handles custody cases all over North Carolina and Florida, where she is licensed to practice law, and also in other states with in-state co-counsel, so she can come into the cases pro hac vice.

In part due to her Legal Services background, Arlaine has written many articles over the years to help people understand the law. She has two additional articles that can help any litigant in a Custody, Domestic Violence Protective Order, or DSS / CPS case, prepare for their cases: “How to Prepare for Your Consultation,” which includes important information to include in writing a detailed history of your case, including the facts, evidence and witnesses, and “Gathering Evidence.” Her article, “Protecting your Child from Sexual Abuse in Custody Cases” also includes information that is relevant to cases involving child physical abuse and domestic violence for any protective parent. For more information on the types of cases Arlaine does, click Practice Areas. To ask Arlaine for a consultation or to consider representing you, click Contact & Consultation. If you are interested in having Arlaine speak to your group or conference or to request permission to re-post her articles in full, email her at Feel free to link to any parts of this website.



Juris Doctor, 1989

Activities and Honors:

  • Editorial Board, Entertainment & Sports Law Review

  • President, Association for Women Law Students, 1987-88, 1988-89

  • Staff writer, Res Ipsa Loquitur, law school newspaper

  • Society of Bar & Gavel

  • 1987 Summer Honors Research Program, "Children and the Law"

B.A., English, 1984


  • Staff writer, The Daily Tarheel, student newspaper

  • Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority

Graduated, 1980

Public Speaking Engagements

Lecturer, (1993-present)

Issues regarding domestic violence, custody, legal services for the poor, marital rape reform, and her novel. Arlaine has spoken to classes and groups at UNC-CH School of Law, Duke University School of Law, NC State University, UNC-Charlotte, and the University of Miami School of Law, Committees of the NC General Assembly, professional organizations, and companies.

Continuing Legal Education Lecturer (1993-present)

Issues regarding domestic violence protection order cases and custody cases. (Charlotte, Wilmington, and Asheville, NC).

Bar Admissions

  • Florida, 1989

  • North Carolina, 1991

  • District of Columbia, 1992 (resigned with ability to reinstate)

  • United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, 1990

  • United States District Court, Western District of North Carolina, 1991

  • United States District Court, Middle District of North Carolina, 2016

    Activities & Affiliations

  • Watauga County Bar Association (2017-present)

  • 24th Judicial District Bar (2003-present)

  • N.C. Bar Association (2002-2004, 2005-2006)

  • N.C. Academy of Trial Lawyers (2001-2002)

  • Mecklenburg County Women's Commission, Volunteer, Legal Clinic (2002)

  • Hate Crimes Working Group, U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of NC (1998-99)

  • Mecklenburg County NC Domestic Violence Advocacy Council (1993-99)

  • Union County NC Domestic Violence Advocacy Council (1998)

  • Mecklenburg County American Civil Liberties Union (Board Member 1997-98)

  • NC Association of Women Attorneys (Board Member 1994)

  • Mecklenburg County Bar (1991-2002)

  • Association for the Reform of N.C. Marital Rape Laws, Founder/State Co-chair (1991-93)

  • Dade County FL Coalition Against Domestic Violence (1989-91)

  • Guardian ad Litem for children in foster care, Dade County, FL (1987-88)

  • Volunteer Court Advocate, Battered Women's Shelter, Charlotte, NC (1986)

  • Volunteer, My Sister’s Place Battered Women's Shelter, Washington, DC (1985-86)