It’s no secret: Family quarrels bring out the worst in people. Many have said that family disputes are usually pretty good people on their worst behavior.
In a perfect world, people would have their dispute, reach a reasonable compromise, and then leave each other and each other’s stuff the heck alone. But we do not live in a perfect world—not even close.
That’s where things like an Order of Protection and No-Contact Order become important.
(Note: These are different from a Restraining Order under Arkansas law. (Or, in the words of Louis Tully, esteemed attorney for the Ghostbusters, a “judicial restrangement order—that blue thing I got from her!”)
Order of Protection
You can request that an Arkansas court give you an Order of Protection if you allege an immediate and present danger of domestic abuse. It does not cost anything to file for an Order of Protection (usually it costs $165 to file a new case in Arkansas).
Immediate simply means that the person’s threats or actions suggest that the abuse will occur in the near future. The term “domestic abuse” is very broad: It can mean physical harm or the infliction of fear of physical harm. Domestic doesn’t just mean your immediate family. It can be people you use to live with, relatives by marriage, someone you dated, etc.
Normally a judge will go ahead and grant what’s called an Ex Parte Order of Protection—meaning you don’t have to serve the other person first. This Order of Protection is just temporary. The Court will then set a hearing for the Order of Protection and it’s your job to serve the other person. If you don’t serve them, the Order of Protection will just go away.
To get a permanent Order of Protection, you’ll actually have to show up at the hearing and prove to the judge that the person really did commit an act or threaten domestic abuse.
A No-Contact Order is issued when someone is charged with a crime. (You can’t go get a No-Contact Order—the prosecutor requests it from the Court.) A No-Contact Order prevents the person charged with certain crimes from having any contact with the victim.
As a practical matter, it is important not to treat an Order of Protection lightly. Once you file for one, it is public record for the entire world (your boss, your kids, etc.) to see. Forever. Many people will file for one just to get back at a spouse or significant other. The effects of requesting an Order of Protection, however, usually last a lot longer than the fight itself.
On the other hand, domestic violence is a serious (and seriously underreported and ignored) problem. If you’ve received a legitimate threat from someone close to you, it is your right to use the Courts to protect yourself.
People don’t usually hire lawyers to handle Order of Protection hearings, but sometimes they do—particularly if someone has made false allegations about him or her. If you find yourself in that situation, please call us. An Order of Protection can affect your relationship with your job, your kids, and even affect your ability to own firearms.