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Victims of domestic violence often feel trapped in their marital and/or living situations because of their children, a lack of resources, or out of fear. While there are many self-help resources for victims of domestic violence, victims should call the police if they are dealing with physical violence or threats of violence.

If you are a victim of domestic violence in Texas, you should seek legal help right away to protect yourself and any children living in the home as well.

If you are filing a protective order in Texas, you can receive protection from blood relatives, relatives by marriage, household members, previous cohabitants, or a person with whom you have a child. A protective order is a court order limiting the freedom of a person accused of committing a crime involving family violence, sexual abuse, or stalking. Some types of non-violent child abuse may also serve as the basis for a “family violence” protective order. Failure to comply with a protective order can also be a criminal offense. The limits a protective order can impose depend on which type of protective order is sought and/or granted.

Types of Protective Orders

The law offers domestic violence victims the following orders of protection:

  • Emergency protective orders (EPO): A Texas family law judge can impose emergency orders. This type of protective order is typically issued without a hearing while the defendant is still in jail on charges related to domestic abuse. An EPO is a 31-91 day “stay away” order keeping the offender away from the victim(s).
  • Protective orders: When a petitioner files an application for a protective order, the court reviews the allegations and may determine to grant a temporary restraining order (TRO) immediately without the respondent’s input. The TRO can be effective for up to 20 days. In certain instances, a protective order can also require the abuser to move out of a home shared with the victim. A permanent protective order prevents future assaults, making it illegal for the abuser to be near the other party. Violations of this order can be criminal behavior, with the violator subject to arrest.
  • Restraining orders: Temporary restraining orders are common in divorces. They offer immediate protection against an abuser and prevent the other party from emptying bank accounts, purchasing or selling assets, or running up credit card bills.

Texas Protective Order Lawyers

Dealing with domestic abuse is challenging, both emotionally and legally. A Texas domestic violence attorney will be your advocate in court, obtain and complete the required documents, and deal with the opposing side throughout the legal process. If you’ve experienced family violence, Terry & Roberts stand ready to help you seek legal protection, so contact us today for a confidential consultation.


Frequently Asked Questions About Domestic Abuse & Protective Orders

What is considered family violence in Texas?

Often referred to as domestic violence, family violence occurs when a family member or member of a household threatens or physically harms a member of their family or household.

The definition of family includes parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, spouses, other blood relatives, adoptive parents and adoptive children, and current and former household members.

What is a protective order?

A protective order is a civil court order that bars the person named in the order from committing further acts of family violence, sexual assault, harassment, human trafficking, and/or stalking.

What types of family violence protective orders are available in Texas?

There are three types of orders of protection available in Texas:

  • A temporary ex parte protective order, which is issued by a civil court
  • A permanent (final) protective order, also issued by a civil court
  • An emergency protective order (known in Texas as a magistrate’s order of emergency protection) that is issued by a criminal court

How do I get a temporary ex parte order?

If you or a family member are in clear and present danger of family violence from an abuser, you can apply to a judge for immediate protection through a temporary ex parte order. The judge will determine, based on the information you provide, whether or not your situation meets the criteria for a temporary ex parte order. Your abuser does not have to appear in court for you to get the order issued. You may, however, want to be represented by an attorney who understands family law matters — including domestic violence — to make sure your application for protection meets the necessary legal criteria to be granted.

How long does a temporary ex parte order last?

A temporary ex parte order lasts for the amount of time specified in the order, which is typically up to 20 days. This 20-day period can be extended for additional 20-day periods either upon your request or if the judge makes a decision to extend it.

What do I have to do to get a final protective order?

As a victim of family violence, you can file an application for a protective order in the county where the abuser lives, usually with the assistance of your family law attorney and/or the district or county attorney’s office.

How long does a permanent (final) protective order last?

The duration of a final protective order depends upon what time period is stated in the order, which can be up to two years. If there is no stated time period, then it lasts for two years from the date on which the order was signed. These are general rules and there are exceptions. The judge, in their discretion, can issue a protective order extending beyond two years if any of the following occurred:

  • The abuser committed a felonious act involving family violence against you or a member of your family or household even if they were never charged with or convicted of a felony offense
  • The abuser caused serious bodily injury to you or a member of your family or household
  • The abuser was subjected to two or more prior protective orders for committing family violence and the judge finds that future family violence is likely if the order is removed

How can a family law attorney protect my rights in a divorce where domestic violence is an issue?

Family violence is all too often present in Texas divorce proceedings. If you or your children are at risk during a divorce, an experienced family law attorney will ensure you petition the court for all available protections allowed under the law and that the violence and threat of violence against you and your family are taken into consideration by the court in determining all relevant issues in your divorce, including grounds for divorce and child custody matters.

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Terry & Roberts serves clients throughout Brazoria County, TX including in Angleton, Pearland, Lake Jackson, Alvin, Freeport, Clute, and Manvel.

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