WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Legal Information: Arkansas

Arkansas Restraining Orders

View by section

Restraining Orders

In Arkansas, there are orders of protection and injunctions against workplace violence, which are explained below. These are civil court orders requiring one person to stop harming another.

Domestic Violence Orders of Protection

A domestic violence order of protection is a civil order that can protect you from abuse by someone with whom you have a specific relationship.

Basic information

What is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Arkansas?

This section defines domestic abuse for the purposes of getting a domestic violence order of protection.

Domestic abuse is when a family or household member commits any of the following acts against you:

  • physical harm;
  • bodily injury;
  • assault;
  • the fear that physical harm, bodily injury, or assault is about to happen to you; or
  • sexual conduct (of a criminal nature) whether the victim is a minor or an adult.1

1 Ark. Code § 9-15-103(3)

What types of order of protection are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of orders:

Temporary Order of Protection
A temporary order of protection is an ex parte court order designed to provide you and your family members with immediate protection from the abuser. A judge may issue an ex parte order on the day you file your petition if s/he believes that you are in immediate danger, or if the abuser is scheduled to be released from prison within 30 days and you will be in danger when s/he is released.1 "Ex parte" means that the order is issued without prior notice to the abuser and without the abuser being present. The temporary order will protect you from the time it is granted until your full court hearing takes place, usually within 30 days.2

Final Order of Protection
A final order of protection can be issued only after a court hearing takes place where you and the abuser both have the opportunity to appear in court and present evidence. A final order will last for at least 90 days and at most 10 years. The judge may renew the order after it expires if s/he finds that the threat of domestic abuse still exists.3

1 Ark. Code § 9-15-206(a)
2 Ark. Code § 9-15-204(a)(1)
3 Ark. Code § 9-15-205(b)

What protections can I get in a protection order?

In both a temporary order of protection and a final order of protection, a judge may order:

  • the abuser not to commit any criminal acts against you;
  • the abuser to stay out of your home or the home you shared together;
  • the abuser to stay away from your work, school, or other places you go;
  • the abuser not to contact you directly or through someone else.
  • temporary custody or temporary visitation rights for any minor children you have with the abuser;
  • child support for any child you have in common with the abuse;
  • temporary financial support for you (if you are married to the abuser);
  • that the winning party compensate the other party for reasonable attorney fees;
  • that one party have custody or care of a pet in the home;1
  • that any cell phone numbers/accounts be transferred to your name if you share a cell phone with the abuser and the abuser is the account holder; Note: You can request this in the first court hearing or in any follow-up court dates. However, you have to prove to the judge that you and any minor children in your care are the primary users of the wireless telephone number(s);2and
  • anything else that the judge thinks will help keep you or your family and other household members safe, which can include that the abuser not injure, mistreat, molest, or harass you or threaten to do any of those things.1

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

1 Ark. Code §§ 9-15-206(b); 9-15-205(a)
2 Ark. Code § 9-15-218(a)

How much does it cost? Do I need a lawyer?

There is no filing fee for an order of protection.1

Although you do not need a lawyer to file for an order of protection, it may be to your advantage to find a lawyer.  This is especially important if the abuser has a lawyer.  Even if the abuser does not have a lawyer, it is recommended that you contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.

If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance and domestic violence organizations on the Places that Help page.  In addition, the domestic violence organizations in your area and/or court staff may be able to answer some of your questions or help you fill out the necessary court forms.  You will find contact information for courthouses on the AR Courthouse Locations page.1

1 Ark. Code § 9-15-202(a)(1)

In which county can I file for a domestic violence order of protection?

You can file for a domestic violence order of protection in the county where you live (which includes a temporary stay in a domestic violence shelter),1 where the abuse occurred, or in any county where the abuser can be served with the court papers (i.e., where s/he lives or works).2

Note: If you are trying to keep your address confidential, consider that filing in the county where you are in shelter could alert the abuser to the fact that you are living in that county.

1 Ark. Code § 9-15-103(1)
2 Ark. Code § 9-15-201(b)

Who can get an order of protection

Who can get an order of protection?

You may be eligible for an order of protection against a family or household member who has committed domestic violence against you. The abuser is a family or household members if s/he is:

  • a spouse or former spouse;
  • a parent or child;
  • any person related to you by blood within the 4th degree of consanguinity (this includes family relationships up to first cousins);
  • an in-law (related by marriage within the 2nd degree of consanguinity);1
  • any child residing in the household;
  • a person with whom you have (or had) a child in common;
  • a person with whom you currently live or have lived in the past;
  • a person with whom you have or have had a dating relationship (romantic or intimate).2

1 Ark. Code § 9-15-103(5)
2 Ark. Code § 9-15-103(4)

How will a judge decide if I am in a dating relationship with the abuser?

You may be eligible for an order or protection against an abuser with whom you have or have had a dating relationship (romantic or intimate).1

When deciding whether you and the abuser were in a dating relationship, the judge will consider:

  • the length of your relationship;
  • the type of relationship; and
  • the frequency of interaction between you and the abuser.2

A dating relationship does not include a casual relationship or ordinary socializing in a business or social context.3

1 Ark. Code § 9-15-103(4)
2 Ark. Code § 9-15-103(2)(A)
3 Ark. Code § 9-15-103(2)(B)

Can I get an order of protection if I am a minor?

Yes. A minor (under 18) cannot file the petition himself/herself, but any adult family or household member may file on behalf of the minor, including a married minor.1 An employee or volunteer at a domestic violence shelter or organization may also file on behalf of a minor, including a married minor.2Note: A minor may be able to get an order of protection if s/he is residing in the household where the domestic abuse occurred. The minor does not have to be the direct victim of abuse in this case.3

1 Ark. Code § 9-15-201(d)(2)
2 Ark. Code § 9-15-201(d)(4)
3 Ark. Code § 9-15-103(4)

Can I get an order of protection against a same-sex partner?

In Arkansas, you may apply for an order of protection against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Who can get an order of protection? You must also be the victim of an act of domestic abuse, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Arkansas?

You can find information about LGBTQIA victims of abuse and what types of barriers they may face on our LGBTQIA Victims page.

Steps for getting an order of protection

Step 1: Get the petition.

To file for an order of protection in Arkansas, go to the county courthouse in the county where you live, where the abuse took place, or where the abuser may be served (given paperwork related to the case).1  Find the civil clerk of court and ask for a petition for an order of protection. You can find a list of courts on the AR Courthouse Locations page.  You can also find links to the forms online by going to AR Download Court Forms.

You may also be able to obtain these forms by calling a local domestic violence organization or legal aid office.  Most domestic violence prevention organizations can provide support for you while you fill out these papers.  Click on the Places that Help page for a list of state and local programs and legal resources. 

Tell the civil clerk of court that you want to file a petition for an order of protection. If you are in immediate danger, tell the clerk that you also want a temporary (ex-parte) order of protection.

1 Ark. Code § 9-15-201(b)

Step 2: Carefully fill out the necessary forms.

On the petition, you are the “petitioner” and the abuser is the “respondent.” Write briefly about the most recent incident(s) of violence, using descriptive language - words like "slapping," "hitting," "grabbing," "threatening," "choking," etc. - that fits your situation. Be specific.

When giving your address, you may want to give a safe mailing address and phone number or ask the clerk if you can keep this information confidential if you don’t want the abuser to know where you are staying.

If you need assistance filling out the forms, you may be able to ask the clerk for help. Some courts may have an advocate that can assist you. Another option is to find help through a local domestic violence organization – see our AR Advocates and Shelters page. A clerk or advocate can show you which blanks to fill in, but they cannot help you decide what to write. You will find links to the court forms on our AR Download Court Forms page or from the courthouse in your area.

Be sure to sign the forms in front of a notary or a clerk. Remember to bring some form of photo identification if you have it since this may be necessary to have your petition notarized in court.

Step 3: The ex parte hearing.

Give your forms to the clerk. S/he will then give them to the judge who may or may not want to speak to you. Only a judge can review your petition for (and give you) a temporary (ex parte) order of protection if you requested one. The judge can give you a temporary order of protection if s/he finds that:

  • You are in immediate and present danger of domestic abuse; or
  • That the respondent (the abuser) is scheduled to be released from prison within 30 days, and there will be an immediate and present danger of domestic abuse when s/he is released.1

Whether or not you get a temporary order of protection, the clerk will tell you when to come back for your court hearing, within 30 days (assuming your case is not dismissed for some reason). The clerk should write down when and where your hearing will be on the copies of your court forms.

1 Ark. Code § 9-15-103(a)

Step 4: Service of process.

The abuser must be served, or given papers that tell him/her about the hearing date and your temporary order of protection (if the judge gave you one).  Service must be completed at least 5 days before the scheduled date of the hearing.1

The clerk will either send the order to the police or have you bring it to the police yourself.  The police will then find the abuser and serve him/her notice of the temporary order (if the judge gave you one) as well as the scheduled hearing date.  Please visit our AR Sheriff Departments page for more information on serving court papers.  Do not attempt to serve the papers to the abuser yourself.

Note: If you were unable to have the abuser served before the court date, you can ask the judge for a new hearing date and another temporary order of protection.

1 Ark. Code § 9-15-2014(b)(1)(A) 

Step 5: Go to your court hearing.

Whether a judge grants you a temporary order or not, you may be given a court date for a court hearing on your petition within 30 days (assuming that your petition is not dismissed).  The hearing will be in front of a judge, who will decide whether or not to give you a final order of protection.

It is very important that you attend the court hearing.  If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order will expire and you will have to start the process over.  If you absolutely cannot attend, contact the court immediately and ask how you can get a "continuance" for a later court date.

If the abuser does not attend the hearing, the court may issue a "default judgment" against him/her and you may receive a final order of protection in his/her absence.  The judge also may decide to pick a new hearing date to give the abuser another chance to come to court.  If this happens, be sure to ask the judge to extend your temporary order if you have one.

At the hearing, you will have the chance to testify in court and present evidence and witnesses to prove the abuse and harassment you have experienced.  The abuser will also be allowed to be present evidence and testify in the hearing to defend himself/herself.  You may want to get a lawyer to represent you at that hearing, especially if you think the abuser will have one.  Go to our AR Finding a Lawyer page for a listing of free and paid lawyers.   If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, you can visit our Preparing your Case section for ways that you can show the judge that you were abused.

After the hearing

Can the abuser have a gun?

Once you get a protection order, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession.  There are a few places where you can find this information:

  • first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in Arkansas have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
  • second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
  • third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.

You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website

What should I do when I leave the courthouse?

Here are some ideas for things that you may want to do when leaving court – you will have to decide which ones work for you:

  • Make several copies of the protective order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • Leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • One week after court, call your local law enforcement offices to make sure they have received copies of the protective order. If they have not, you may want to ask if you can deliver a copy to them.
  • Take steps to safety plan, including possibly changing your locks and your phone number.

Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order. People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school. Many batterers obey protective orders, but some do not. It is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe. For more information please visit the Safety Tips page. Advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.

I was not granted an order of protection. What can I do?

If you are not granted an order of protection, there are still some things you can do to try to stay safe.  It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence programs in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you come up with a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need. You will find a list on our AR Advocates and Shelters page.

You may also be able to reapply for an order of protection if a new incident of domestic abuse occurs after you are denied the order.

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

You can call the police or sheriff department immediately, even if you think it is a minor violation, and show them your order of protection. You can also file a motion for contempt notifying the judge of the violation and requesting that the judge enforce the order. It can be a crime and contempt of court if the abuser knowingly violates a provision in the order in any way. A judge can punish someone for being in contempt of court.

A violation of the order is a Class A misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of one (1) year imprisonment in the county jail or a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both.1 A violation of the order within 5 years of a previous conviction for violating an order of protection is a Class D felony.2

In some cases, the abuser can be arrested immediately. If the police are not involved or do not arrest him/her or file a criminal complaint against him/her, you may still have the right to go to the District Court and take out a criminal complaint against him/her. It is a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge number in case you want to follow up on your case.

1 Ark. Code § 9-15-207(b)(1)
2 Ark. Code § 9-15-207(b)(2)

How do I change, extend, or cancel the order?

In order to renew the order, you will have to go back to court and prove that the threat of domestic abuse still exists.1 If you would like to cancel the order or change it in some way, you will have to go back to court and have a hearing in front of the judge, where you may need to explain why you want a to cancel or change the order.2

1 Ark. Code § 9-15-205(b)
2 Ark. Code § 9-15-209

What happens if I move?

If you move within Arkansas or to another state, your order will still be valid and enforceable.  Federal law provides what is called "full faith and credit," which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands.1

Different states may have different rules for enforcing out-of-state restraining orders.  If you are moving out of state, you may want to call a domestic violence program in the state where you are going to find out if there are any special regulations regarding out-of-state orders.

Please see our AR Advocates and Shelters page to find a domestic violence program.  You may also want to call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2) to find out this information.

Note: For information on enforcing a military protection order (MPO) off the military installation or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 See 18 U.S.C. § 2265

Injunctions Against Workplace Violence

An injunction against workplace violence is designed to prevent future harm from an abuser at the workplace. The employer, not the victim, applies for this injunction.

What is an injunction against workplace violence? Who can file for one?

An injunction against workplace violence is designed to prevent future harm from an abuser at the workplace. If any one of the crimes listed below occurs to an employee or to a person invited into the workplace ("invitee") by the employer, the employer can seek a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, and/or an injunction prohibiting further unlawful acts by the abuser at the work site (which includes any place at which work is being performed on behalf of the employer).1 (Note: Unless you are your employer's authorized agent, you cannot petition for an injunction on your own behalf.)

To get an injunction against workplace violence, your employer must show a judge that one of the following has happened:

  • An employee/invitee was the victim at any location of:
    • a terroristic act, rape, battery, domestic battering, assault on a family or household member; or a "crime of violence," which includes murder; manslaughter; kidnapping; mayhem; assault to do great bodily harm; robbery; burglary; housebreaking; breaking and entering; and larceny;2
  • An employee/invitee received one of the following threats of violence at any location and it can reasonably be interpreted as a threat that may be carried out at the work site:
    • terroristic threatening; threatening a catastrophe; threatening an assault; or threatening domestic battering;3 or
  • An employee/invitee has been stalked or harassed at the workplace, which includes any of the following crimes committed against the employee/invitee at a work site:
    • loitering; criminal trespass; harassment; stalking.1

Note: Your employer may file for an injunction against workplace violence regardless of whether or not you have an order of your own, such as an order of protection or a no contact order.

The injunction can be served upon the abuser by law enforcement and enforced anywhere within the state of Arkansas by law enforcement.4

1 A.C.A. § 11-5-115(a)(3)
2 A.C.A. §§ 5-73-202(1); 11-5-115(a)(1)
3 A.C.A. § 11-5-115(a)(2)
4 See A.C.A. § 11-5-115(c)-(e)

How is an injunction against workplace violence different from other types of orders?

There are several ways in which an injunction against workplace violence is different from other types of protective orders.

First, the person who asks the court for an order is the employer or an authorized agent of the employer, not the victim. Second, the victim's cooperation may not be necessary for the employer to get the injunction and an employer may even get one without the victim's prior knowledge or against the victim's wishes.  Third, an injunction against workplace violence generally only protects a victim while s/he is at work but not at other times.  Therefore, a victim of abuse may still want to consider applying for an order of protection on his/her own.  For more information, go to our Domestic Violence Orders of Protection page.

What protections can I get in an injunction against workplace violence?

An injunction against workplace violence can:

  • Order the defendant not to visit, assault, bother, or otherwise interfere with the employer, the employer's operations, the specified employee or invitee at the employer's work site;
  • Order the defendant not to stalk the specified employee or invitee at the employer's work site;
  • Order the defendant not to abuse or injure the employer, the employer's property, the specified employee or invitee at the employer's work site;
  • Order the defendant not to harass the employer, the specified employee or invitee at the employer's work site;
  • Order the defendant not to contact your place of work - or you or your employer while you're there; and
  • Anything else a judge thinks is necessary.1

1 A.C.A. § 11-5-115(b)(2)

Moving to Another State with an Order of Protection

If you are moving out of state or are going to be out of the state for any reason, your order of protection can still be enforceable.

General Rules

Can I get my order of protection from Arkansas enforced in another state?

Yes. Federal law states that all valid orders of protection granted in the United States receive "full faith and credit" in all state and tribal courts within the US, including US territories.1 See How do I know if my order of protection is good under federal law? to find out if your order of protection qualifies.

If you have a valid Arkansas order of protection that meets federal standards, it can be enforced in another state. Each state must enforce out-of-state orders of protection in the same way it enforces its own orders.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265

How do I know if my order of protection is good under federal law?

An order of protection is good anywhere in the United States as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.1
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story. It doesn’t matter if he actually showed up in court; just that he had the opportunity to do so.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to present evidence at a hearing that is scheduled within a "reasonable time" after the order is issued.2

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)(A)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b); Ark. Code § 9-15-302(b)

I have a temporary ex parte order.  Can it be enforced in another state?

Yes.  An ex parte temporary order can be enforced in other states as long as it meets the requirements listed in How do I know if my order of protection is good under federal law?1

Note: The state where you are going generally cannot extend your ex parte temporary order or issue you a permanent order when the temporary one expires. If you need to extend your temporary order, you will have to contact the state that issued the order and arrange to be at the hearing in person or by telephone (if that is an option offered by the court). However, you may be able to reapply for one in the new state that you are moving to if you meet the requirements for getting a protective order in that state – but, if you apply for one in a new state, the abuser would know what state you are living in, which may put you in danger.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(b)(2)

 

Getting your order of protection enforced in another state

How do I get my order of protection enforced in another state? 

Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your protection order enforced in another state.

Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid protection order is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.1  Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state. You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our Advocates and Shelters page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

 

Do I need a special copy of my order of protection to it enforced?

In some states, you will need a certified copy of your order of protection to register it in a new state. A certified copy shows that it is a "true and correct" copy; it is generally signed and initialed by the clerk of court that gave you the order, and usually has some kind of court stamp on it. In Arkansas, a certified order of protection has a stamp or seal on it. It might also only have a "file mark" with the date and time the order was filed.

The copy you originally received was most likely not a certified copy. If your copy is not a certified copy, go to the Domestic Relations Division of the court that gave you the order, and ask for a certified copy. There may be a fee to get a certified copy of an order of protection.

Note: It is a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times. You will also want to bring several copies of the order with you when you move and consider leaving copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children's school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on. You may want to give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work and to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.

Can I get someone to help me?  Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to get your order of protection enforced in another state.

However, you may want to get help from a local domestic violence advocate or attorney in the state that you move to. A domestic violence advocate can let you know what the advantages and disadvantages are for registering your order of protection, and help you through the process if you decide to do so.

To find a domestic violence advocate or an attorney in the state you are moving to, go to our Places that Help page and select your state.

Do I need to the tell the court in Arkansas if I move?

Arkansas does not require you to tell the court if you move. However, if you are participating in the Arkansas address confidentiality program, you need to tell the Department of Finance and Administration if your address changes.1

Even though you do not have to tell the court in Arkansas that you are moving, you might want to speak with a lawyer about whether you may miss any court documents related to your case if you do not update your address. You might also want to contact an attorney in your new state in to help you register your order of protection there if you decide to do so.

1 Ark. Code § 27-16-811(2)(B)

Enforcing Custody Provisions in Another State

I was granted temporary custody with my protection order. Can I take my kids out of the state?

Maybe.  It will depend on the exact wording of the custody provision in your order of protection.  You may have to first seek the permission of the court before leaving.  If the abuser was granted visitation rights with your children, then you may have to have the order changed, or show the court that there is a fair and realistic alternative to the current visitation schedule.

To read more about custody laws in Arkansas, go to our AR Custody page.

If you are unsure about whether or not you can take your kids out of the state, it is important to talk to a lawyer who understands domestic violence and custody laws, and can help you make the safest decision for you and your children. You can find contact information for legal assistance in the AR Finding a Lawyer page.

I was granted temporary custody with my order of protection.  Will another state enforce this custody order?

Yes. Custody, visitation, and child support provisions that are included in an order of protection can be enforced across state lines. Law enforcement and courts in another state are required by federal law to enforce these provisions.1

1 18 U.S.C. 2266

Enforcing Your Out-Of-State Order in Arkansas

If you are planning to move to Arkansas or are going to be in Arkansas for any reason, your protection or restraining order can be enforced.

General Rules for Out-of-State Orders in Arkansas

Can I get my out-of-state order of protection enforced in Arkansas? What are the requirements?

Yes.  Your protection order can be enforced in Arkansas as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.1
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to present evidence.  It doesn't matter if s/he actually showed up in court; just that s/he had the opportunity to do so.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to present evidence at a hearing that is scheduled within a "reasonable time" after the order is issued.2

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b); Ark. Code § 9-15-302(b)

Does it cost anything to register my protection order?

No. There is no fee for registering your protection order in Arkansas.1

1 Ark. Code § 9-15-302(d)(3)

Can I have my out-of-state protection order changed, extended, or canceled in Arkansas?

No.  Only the state that issued your protection order can change, extend, or cancel the order.  You cannot have this done by a court in Arkansas.

To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued. You may be able to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where your abuser is living. To find out more information about how to modify a restraining order, see the Restraining Orders pages for the state where your order was issued.

If your order does expire while you are living in Arkansas, you may be able to get a new one issued in Arkansas but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred in Arkansas. To find out more information on how to get a protection order in Arkansas, visit our AR Domestic Violence Orders of Protection page.

 

I was granted temporary custody with my out-of-state protection order.  Will I still have temporary custody of my children in Arkansas?

Yes.  As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,1 Arkansas can enforce a temporary custody order that is a part of a protection order.

To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets this legal standard, contact a lawyer in your area.  To find a lawyer in your area, please go to the AR Finding a Lawyer page.

1 The federal laws are the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) and it must be consistent with the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980.

Registering your Out-of-State Order in Arkansas

What is the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Registry? Who has access to it?

The National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC) is a nationwide, electronic database containing protective order information that is used by law enforcement agencies in the U.S, Canada, and Puerto Rico. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.

All law enforcement officials have access to it, but the information is encrypted so outsiders cannot access it.

How do I register my protection order in Arkansas?

To register your protection order in Arkansas, you must file the order as a foreign (out-of-state) judgment, which means filing a new suit in Arkansas. The abuser will not be notified of the new suit.  Once you have filed the order as a foreign judgment, the court clerk will send the order to the local law enforcement agency who will enter your order into the Arkansas Crime Information Center protection order registry file.1

If you need help registering your protection order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Arkansas for assistance. You can find contact information for organizations in your area here on the AR Places that Help page.

1 Ark. Code §§ 9-15-302(d) & 12-12-215(b)(1)

Do I have to register my protection order in Arkansas in order to get it enforced?

No. Arkansas state law gives full protection to out-of-state protection orders and military protection orders and requires them to be enforced just like a protection order that was issued in Arkansas as long as you can show the officer a copy of the order and can truthfully tell the officer that you believe the order is still in effect. It does not have to be entered into the state or federal registry in order to be enforced by an Arkansas police officer, but the officer does need to believe that it is a valid (real) order.1

1 Ark. Code § 9-15-302(a) & (e)(1)

Will the abuser be notified if I register my order of protection?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.1  However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to.  It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living.  We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Staying Safe page.  You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our AR Advocates and Shelters page.

1 18 USC § 2265(d)

What if I don't register my protection order?  Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?

It should not be more difficult to have your order enforced even if it is not registered.  Arkansas requires that law enforcement officials enforce out-of-state protection orders as if they were issued in Arkansas whether or not the order has been registered.1  As long as you can give the law enforcement official a copy of the order and tell him/her that you truthfully think it is still in effect, your order should be enforced.2

If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area.  An advocate there can help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in Arkansas.  To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in Arkansas go to our AR Advocates and Shelters page.

1 Ark. Code § 9-15-302(e)(3)
2 Ark. Code § 9-15-302(a) & (e)(1)