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Legal Program

Domestic Violence and Housing – Your Rights

In Arkansas, a landlord cannot:

  • refuse to enter into a rental agreement,
  • terminate a lease,
  • fail to renew a lease, or
  • evict a tenant

if their decision is based solely on the fact that the tenant has been a victim of domestic violence.

In addition to anti-discrimination laws, Arkansas rental laws provide the following protections for tenants who are survivors of domestic abuse:

  • Changing Locks

Tenants who have been victims of domestic violence are entitled to have their locks changed, at their expense, as long as they notify the landlord and provide them with a new key.

  • Damages

Landlords can seek damages from the abuser caused by an incident of domestic abuse and for any unpaid rent owed by the abuser.

  • Law Enforcement

Landlords cannot prohibit or penalize tenants for calling the police or emergency services in a domestic violence situation.

  • Court Order

If the court orders the abuser to stay away from a victim, and the abuser lives in the same house as the victim, the landlord can evict the abuser or forbid them from coming into the home.

If you are a domestic violence survivor and you are facing a housing issue, you do not have to go through the process alone. Peace at Home’s legal department can help you find legal representation, accompany you to the court hearing, and help you develop a safety plan. Call 479.442.9811 to speak with an advocate about legal services.

Domestic Violence and Child Custody FAQ

Child custody issues come up frequently when survivors of domestic violence leave the abusive relationship. Below are some of the most common questions we receive about child custody. Contact our legal department today at 479-442-9811 if you have additional questions or need legal representation.

Can an abusive parent get custody or visitation?

An abusive parent may be allowed custody or visitation if the judge believes you and your children can stay safe. To ensure this, the judge can require supervised visits or arrange for the pick-up and drop-off of your children to take place in a protected space.

If the judge does not believe you or your children are still in danger, he/she may order custody or visitation without any protective measures. As a result, it is important the judge believes you when you talk about the violence. You may want to keep evidence of the violence ready, if you have any.

If you feel there is a risk of violence, you can ask the judge:

  • For pick-up and drop-off of your children to happen in a protected place
  • To allow someone other than you to deliver or pick-up the children for visits
  • To allow only email contact between the parents

How does a judge make decisions about custody?

The judge will always look to the child’s best interests. So if you are filing for custody, you should be able to show how the custody arrangement you want is in your child’s best interests. To do this, you should be prepared with as much information as possible about yourself and the other parent. If you are accusing the other parent of abuse, the judge will look at the abuser’s history of causing such injury, physical harm, assault, or causing reasonable fear of injury, physical harm, and assault to another person.

A judge may look at a history of drug or alcohol abuse and order testing for either or both parents. If the child is of a sufficient age and mental capacity, the judge can also consider the preferences of the child.

What is mediation?

Mediation uses a neutral third-party to help parents agree on issues relating to custody and visitation of the child. The court may order you to take part in mediation.

You should talk to a lawyer or domestic violence advocate before going to mediation, or have a lawyer go with you if you can. Your abuser may use mediation as an opportunity for further control and abuse, and he/she may intimidate you into thinking an agreement is reasonable when it may not be. A lawyer and/or victim advocate can help you prepare for this.

How can Peace at Home help?

If you have experienced domestic violence and are going through a custody dispute with your abuser, you do not have to go through the process alone.  Peace at Home’s legal department can help you acquire legal representation, accompany you to the court hearing, provide you with emotional support, and help you develop a safety plan. Call 479.442.9811 to speak with an advocate about our legal services.


Meet our new Staff Attorney – Katelyn Admire

Katelyn Admire recently joined the team at Peace at Home Family Shelter as our second Staff Attorney. Read below to learn more about our newest team member and her role helping survivors of domestic violence in Northwest Arkansas. 

The Peace at Home Family Shelter Legal Program provides legal representation, court accompaniment, advocacy, and assistance to over 200 families every year.

What is your role at Peace at Home?

As one of two Staff Attorneys at Peace at Home, I am responsible for coordinating with other victim service providers to assist clients in finding assistance for (primarily) family and immigration law issues. For clients who are unable to receive services from these other providers, I will offer legal advice and representation to both resident and outreach clients in cases involving divorce, paternity, custody, visitation, child support, and orders of protection.

What are you most excited about in starting your role at Peace at Home?

I’ve always considered home to be a safe, comfortable place, but understand that not everyone has that luxury. This position will allow me to assist women in my community who consider home to be a place of fear or uncertainty to change their circumstances.

Who inspires you?

I was inspired by my grandmother, who worked in law firms for decades and was very talented in her role, at a time when there were few women in the legal career. This led me to go to law school and become an attorney. She was a strong, brilliant woman, and I strive to be like her and to an attorney that she would be proud of.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

When I’m not at work, I enjoy cooking, reading, Cardinals baseball, and hiking with my German Shepherd, Ozzie.

Where is your favorite place in the world?

Home. I know that’s not a very exciting answer, but I’m a chronic homebody. Other than that, I absolutely love Universal Studios in Orlando. I grew up (and continue to be) a huge Harry Potter nerd.