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Legal Aid NorthWest Texas (LANWT). None of the legal information
on this website is associated with or the product of the Office
of the Attorney General of Texas or any of its employees.
Q. What is a protective order?
A. A protective order is
an order entered by a judge or magistrate to prevent continuing
acts of family violence.
Q. What is family violence?
A. Family violence,
according to the Texas Family Code, is defined as any act by one
member of a family or household intended to physically harm
another member; or a serious threat of physical harm, or abuse
of a child.
Q. Who is a member of the
family or household?
A. A member of the family
or household includes any blood relatives or relatives by
marriage, former spouses, parents of the same child, foster
parents, foster children, or any person who has in the past or
is currently living in the same household.
Q. How can a protective order
A. A protective order may
help prevent future acts of family violence. The order can state
that the person responsible for the violence is prohibited from
committing such acts in the future. It may prohibit harassing
and threatening acts. It may order the person responsible for
the violence to stay away from the house, school, or work place.
It may require the person to attend counseling.
Q. How do I get a protective
A. If you or your child is
the victim of family violence and the violence is likely to
occur again in the future, immediately contact the District or
County Attorney where you live to request a protective order. If
there is a divorce action on file and pending completion in
court, contact the attorney representing you in that divorce.
Q. What information do I need
to request a protective order?
A. When you apply for a
protective order, you must supply the following information:
- The name of each applicant (victim)
and the county where each applicant (victim) resides;
- the name, address, and county of
residence of each individual who has committed family
- the relationship between the victim(s)
and the offender;
- a request for one or more protective
The victim should file for the order as
soon after the incident has occurred as possible. Additionally,
if other incidents of family violence have occurred, the victim
needs to provide this information to the attorney who files the
protective order application.
Q. What does a protective
A. You cannot be charged a
fee by the court clerk, sheriff, constable, or other public
official. If you require the assistance of a private attorney,
you will be expected to pay for the attorney’s time and
assistance. The court will require the person found guilty of
family violence to pay for all court expenses.
Q. How long will the
protective order last?
A. If the person
committing the family violence is arrested, the City Magistrate
can issue a Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Protection that
will last up to 60 days. Often the person will leave the scene
if they know the police have been called. In that event, the
police will only take a report without arresting the person
unless the act committed rises to the level of a felony offense.
If the person is not arrested, on your application, the District
or County Attorney can obtain a Temporary Protective Order
without a hearing that is good for up to 20 days with the
possibility of a 20 day extension. The court will try to set a
hearing on your application for a protective order within 14
days. If a final protective order is signed by the judge, it
will be good for up to two years.
Q. What happens if the
protective order is violated?
A. Remember, protective
orders do not offer complete protection. No piece of paper can
protect you from all instances of violence.
Law enforcement agencies are notified of
all protective orders issued in their area and they are required
to maintain a list of those orders. If an offender violates the
order and law enforcement is notified, officials will act to
arrest the offender and seek to have charges filed. If a person
violates the protective order in the presence of law
enforcement, the offender must be arrested immediately. In cases
involving the violation of a protective order, including an
ex parte order, the offender may be punished for contempt of
court by a fine of as much as $500 or up to six months in jail
or both. In cases of violation, excluding ex parte
orders, the offender may be punished by a fine of as much as
$4,000 or jail for up to one year or both.