Domestic violence orders of protection are issued in Arkansas to protect victims of domestic abuse from further harm. Domestic abuse is violence committed by a family or household member, including current and former spouses, parents and children, blood relatives, people who are dating or share a child, and people who do or did live together. Domestic abuse includes actual or threatened physical harm or assault and any sexual activity that is against the law in Arkansas. An order of protection is a civil order granted by a judge ordering the abuser to stay away from you and refrain from further abuse. You can petition the civil court for such an order in the county where you live in Arkansas.
An Order of Protection is a court order designed to protect you from the abuser. There are two types of orders:
Temporary Order of Protection-A Temporary “Ex-parte” Order of Protection is a court order designed to provide you and your family members with immediate protection from your abuser. A judge may issue an ex parte order on the day you file your petition for an Order of Protection if s/he believes that you are in immediate danger or if your abuser is scheduled to be released from prison within 30 days and you will be in danger when s/he is released. “Ex-parte” means that the order is issued without your abuser present.
In order to get a permanent Order of Protection, you need to have a full court hearing with your abuser present. A Temporary “Ex-parte” Order of Protection will protect you from the time you file until your full court hearing takes place, usually within 30 days.
Permanent Order of Protection- A Permanent Order of Protection is like a Temporary Order of Protection, but it lasts longer and can be issued only after a court hearing takes place where you and your abuser both have the opportunity to tell your own side of the story. A permanent order will last for at least 90 days and at most 10 years. The order may be renewed after it expires if the court finds that the threat of domestic abuse still exists.
In both a Temporary Order of Protection and a Permanent Order of Protection, a Judge may order your abuser to:
- Stay out of your home or the home you shared together;
- Stay away from your work, school, or other places you go.
- Not contact you directly or through someone else. Certain exceptions can be made and stated in the order. For example, you can ask the judge to allow your abuser to contact you about your children through your lawyer.
An Order of Protection may also:
- Award temporary custody or establish temporary visitation rights for any minor children you have with your abuser;
- Order temporary financial support for you (if you are married to your abuser) or your minor children (whether or not you are married). These temporary orders will be enforced just like any other child support or alimony awards;
- Compensate you for reasonable attorney fees;
- Award custody or care of a pet in the home;
- Order anything else that the judge thinks will help keep you, your family, and other household members safe, which can include that the abuser not attempt or threaten to injure, mistreat, molest, or harass you.
Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.
- Decide and plan where you will go if you have to leave home (even if you don’t think you will need to).
- Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, elevator or stairwell would be best.
- Have a packed bag ready and keep it at a relative’s or friend’s home in order to leave quickly. Use the checklist below to decide what is important for you to take.
- Identify one or more neighbors you can talk to about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
- Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends and neighbors when you need the police.
- If you believe an argument/incident is going to occur, try to move to a room or area where you have access to an exit. Stay away from any weapons, the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom or other rooms without an outside door or window.
- Use your own instincts and judgment. If the situation is very dangerous, do whatever is necessary to be safe. This may mean giving the abuser what s/he wants to calm the situation down.
- If necessary, call for help. Dial “0″ or “911″.
- Always remember – You Do Not Deserve To Be Hit, Threatened, or Live in Fear!
- Open a savings account and/or credit card in your own name to establish or increase your independence. Think of other ways in which you can increase your independence.
- Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, extra medicines and clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly.
- Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you some money.
- Keep the shelter or hotline number close at hand and keep some change or a calling card on you at all times for emergency phone calls.
- Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave your batterer. Remember – Leaving Your Batterer Is A Very Dangerous Time!
- Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows.
- Discuss a safety plan with your children for when you are not with them.
- Tell your children’s school, day care, etc., who has your permission to pick up the children.
- Notify your neighbors and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see him/her near your residence.
- Keep your protection order on you at all times. Give a copy to a trusted neighbor, family member or clergy person. Keep a copy in the glove compartment of your car.
- Call the police if your batterer violates the protection order.
- Think of other ways to keep safe until law enforcement arrives.
- Inform family, friends, neighbors, and a physician that you have a protection order.
- Safety in public or at work
- Tell your co-worker(s), boss and/or office or building security about your situation. Provide a picture of your batterer if possible.
- Arrange to have an answering machine, caller ID or co-worker screen your telephone calls if possible.
- Devise a safety plan for when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car or bus, and wait with you until you are safely on your way. Use a variety of routes to go home if possible. Think about what you would do if something happened while going home.
- Go to different grocery stores, businesses, and banks if possible. If this is not possible, change the time and day which you go shopping.
- Driver’s License
- Children’s Birth Certificates
- Your Birth Certificate
- Social Security Cards
- Work Permits/VISA
- Money and/or credit cards
- Bank books
- Public Assistance documentation
- Tax return from previous year
- Pay stubs for you
- Loan information
- Your Protection Order
- Lease, rental agreement or house deed
- Car registration and insurance papers
- Health and life insurance papers
- Medical records for you and children
- Vaccination records
- Divorce papers
- Custody papers
- House and car keys
- Address Book
- Phone cards
- Pictures of you, your children and your abuser
- Change of clothes for you and your children
- Children’s toys
- The closest domestic violence/sexual assault program
- Police: 911
- Victim -Witness Unit
- Prosecuting Attorney
- Clerk or District Court
- Probation Department
- Private Attorney