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Disclaimer:
  The legal information provided on this website is the product of 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.


PROTECTIVE ORDERS


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 help?

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 order?

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:

  1. The name of each applicant (victim) and the county where each applicant (victim) resides;
  2. the name, address, and county of residence of each individual who has committed family violence;
  3. the relationship between the victim(s) and the offender;
  4. a request for one or more protective orders.

 

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 order cost?

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.