How to Get an Order of Protection
Who can get an Order of Protection?
- Current or former spouse
- People who are dating or people who have dated someone living in the house
- Parent or in-law
- People related by blood (aunts, uncles, grandparents)
- People who live together or used to live together
- People who have a child together
What does an Order of Protection do?
- Keeps the batterer away from the victim, the victim's home, the victim's job, the victim's church, the victim's school or any other place where the victim may go
- Makes the batterer move out of the home shared with the victim
- Decides who will have temporary custody of shared children and sets a temporary visitation schedule
- Provides for temporary support to the victim and shared children
- Tells the batterer to not contact the victim
Where do I get an Order of Protection?
- Find the free interactive form here. This link guides the user through the through the step-by-step process of filling out an order of protection. At the end of the process, the system will provide a downloadable version of all the documents that will be needed to file the legal forms with the court. Or visit www.arlegalaid.org/orderofprotection for more information regarding domestic abuse forms, documents, fact sheets and resources.
- Once the legal forms are filled out, the victim takes those forms to the county courthouse where the victim lives, where the batterer lives, or where the abuse happened. If the victim is staying in a shelter, they should go to the county courthouse closest to the shelter. Please visit the Arkansas Legal Services Partnership web site for additional information regarding "Getting an Order of Protection"
- There is no charge for filing an Order of Protection. The clerk at the courthouse will look at the form to be sure all the spaces are filled in. The victim is NOT required to put their physical address on the petition but the court will need a mailing address.
- There may also be a domestic violence victim advocate available to help
The judge didn't grant the Order of Protection. What's next?
- The judge may have questions about the petition. The judge may need additional information.
- The victim has the right to explain to the judge why the Order of Protection is needed - this may require asking the clerk to set a hearing.
The judge did grant the Order of Protection. What's next?
- If the judge finds claims of domestic abuse requiring immediate protection, the judge will sign an "Ex Parte Order of Protection." This is a Temporary Order of Protection. The judge will set a court hearing within 30 days, so that the judge can decide if a permanent Order of Protection is necessary and how long the permanent order should last.
- The victim will be required to take the Temporary Order of Protection to the sheriff's office. The batterer, also listed as "respondent" on the Temporary Order of Protection, will need to be notified that they are required to stay away from the victim and notified that a court hearing has been set to decide if a permanent order is necessary. In order to provide the "respondent" with notice, the sheriff's department will need to find and serve this person so the victim will need to give the sheriff's office as much information as possible. The sheriff will not charge for this service.
- The victim MUST attend the permanent hearing.
- The victim needs to keep a copy of the Order of Protection on them at all times.
What happens if the batterer violates the order of protection?
- If the batterer violates the Order of Protection, call law enforcement.
- The person calling to report the violation to law enforcement will need to tell law enforcement that an Order of Protection is in place.
- The victim can ask the prosecutor to file criminal contempt chargers on the batterer.
- The victim can file civil contempt charges on the abuser with the court.
- The victim can ask the court to extend the time the permanent the Order of Protection is in place.
What happens at the hearing?
- The hearing is a chance to provide any evidence about the abuse and why an Order of Protection is needed.
- The court hearing is guided by the Rules of Civil Procedure and Evidence. This means an opening statement and a closing statement may be made to the judge. This also means that witnesses brought by either side may be asked questions by either party. For additional information regarding the Rules of Civil Procedure and Evidence, please click here - Sections VI Civil Procedure and XI Evidentiary Issues may be helpful.
Tips on preparing for court:
- Bring witnesses who have seen or hear the abuse
- Bring police reports about any domestic abuse
- Bring pictures of any visible injuries - make paper copies
- Bring hospital or medical records where treatment was sought
- If the victim is in need of financial support, bring documents regarding this need whether for temporary support or for child support
- If asking for financial support, bring documents regarding income
Is an Order of Protection the same as a Restraining Order or a No Contact Order?
- An Order of Protection is for victims of domestic abuse. If an Order of Protection is granted by a judge, the police can arrest the abuser if the abuser violates the order. The Order of Protection costs nothing and does not require an attorney to represent either the victim or the abuser.
- A Restraining Order stops parties going through another court action from getting rid of property until the parties or the judge decides what will happen to the property. It also stops the parties from harassing or bothering each other. Once the Restraining Order is granted, the party who believes a violation of the Restraining Order has occurred must request a hearing before the judge. After evidence is presented, the judge will decide if a violation of the Restraining Order has occurred. If the judge finds a violation, the party who has violated the order may be required to pay court costs and fees, attorney's fees and or serve jail time.
- A No Contact Order is issued by a criminal court judge. The No Contact Order is issued in criminal cases against an abuser as a condition of bail to be released from jail.