When leaving a spouse, the first question you should ask yourself is always: are you afraid for your safety, or the safety of your children? If yes, we have to take steps to protect you, and you have to take steps to protect yourself.
Domestic abuse is very common, particularly when the victim is pregnant or just had a baby. We work with many domestic abuse victims in our office. Working with these victims requires a special recognition of the emotional impacts involved, and how they affect the victim’s decision-making now and in the future. We aim to make everyone feel safe in our offices and under our guidance. Our priority is to get them to safety as quickly as possible, while also considering the long-term ramifications of our actions on future divorce or custody cases.
Don’t Risk Your Safety
No personal possession, clothes, house, or pet is worth risking your safety and the safety of your children. If you are afraid, do not go back under any circumstances.
Only the client really knows if the fear is justified. Our job as lawyers is not to question the allegations or the fear. We will always believe you, and fight for you.
Don’t Misuse Your Order of Protection
All victims must consider that it is common for Orders of Protection in Arkansas to be misused. Don’t think of it as a fast alternative to the longer, more complicated, more expensive process of a custody battle or divorce. Judges are wary because this kind of manipulative use of Orders of Protection is rampant, and it hurts all domestic abuse victims.
The ramifications of having a permanent protection order against you are high. They are quasi-criminal proceedings, will show up on background checks, and prevent the person from having a gun or ammunition. This can effect the daily life of someone in Arkansas, where hunting is a way of life. Even temporary protection orders can affect the livelihood and job security of the person it is against.
The victim must consider that what matters is what the court believes, and if the court thinks that you misused the protection order system, that may hurt the outcome of the imminent divorce and/or custody battle that is looming. A thorough analysis of the facts and evidence before you file is very smart.
How do I file for an Order of Protection in Arkansas?
Procedurally, Protection Orders are fairly easy to get. They are free – no filing fee – and you’ll know the outcome the same day that you file at the county clerks office. Once filed, the clerk will tell you what judge you were assigned, and direct you to the judge’s office to speak to the law clerk or trial court assistant. You’ll wait outside while the petition is evaluated and the judge makes his or her decision.
If granted, it is called an ex parte order of protection, and is valid only until the court date. If not granted, you are still given a court date. Then you drop copies of the paperwork at the county sheriff’s office, and they will serve the petition to the person against whom you filed it.
Show Up for the Hearing
You must show up to the hearing, or the petition will be dropped. Be prepared to meet your burden of proof that there have been violent acts/threats in the past, and that there is a reasonable objective fear of violence in the future. You will be subject to cross-examination by the abuser, or their lawyer.
Be prepared to ask the abuser questions, and show up with any witnesses who can testify to actual knowledge of the abuse. It’s at this final hearing where you most need an attorney. It is on the victim to prove a permanent protection order is necessary, and the burden is high because the ramifications of an order of protection are high for the abuser.
If you lose the permanent order of protection hearing, or you aren’t prepared and the judge comes to the conclusion that you are misusing the system, this could negatively affect your divorce or custody battle. The same judge will hear both the protection order issue and any contemporaneous or subsequent domestic case.
We Can Help
Our attorneys are experts, and are here for you with straight talk, predictable cost, and superior services. We promise to tell you what the most likely outcome is up front, and to be open and transparent in our communications with you until your case is resolved.
Our approach to practicing law is revolutionizing the way law firms deliver legal services. Case evaluations are completely free. Call Lion Legal today at (501) 227-7627 or Email Us to set up a free consultation.