Orders of Protection in Texas

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People break up and get divorced every day. Many of these relationships may end in an amicable fashion. Even if the relationship involves some bitterness and drama, the only turmoil is usually emotional.

However, in some relationships, the end signifies a scary part of the relationship. One of the partners may make threats or otherwise try to intimidate the other partner so that they will decide not to leave. In other situations, threats and intimidation are nothing new in the relationship. However, statistics show that leaving an abusive relationship often causes a spike in violence.

In situations of this nature, a victim of abuse or threats of abuse may seek an order of protection. There is a specific process that a victim must follow in order to obtain an order of protection in Texas.

Impacted Individuals

Sometimes a divorce or ending of a relationship may impact more than the immediate victim. In some cases, a parent, child, blood relative, other member of the household, relative by marriage or a new romantic partner may be in danger. These individuals may also file for a protective order if they feel that they are being threatened or are otherwise in danger. That being said, it is more common for a victim of domestic violence or stalking to be granted a protective order.

Temporary Order of Protection

Most individuals will first attempt to secure a temporary order of protection. The individual making the request for the order must appear in court and present evidence that he or she requires immediate protection from someone. The threat must be clear and present. If the judge believes that the argument for the order is compelling, a temporary order is granted. This temporary order often lasts up to 20 days or until a date when a full hearing can be scheduled and conducted on the matter.

Permanent Order of Protection

If the domestic violence victim wishes to have a permanent protective order put in place, he or she can make a petition at the subsequent court hearing. A permanent protective order in Texas lasts up to two years. After one year, the abuser can argue that the order is no longer necessary. If the abuser is incarcerated when the order is provided or while it is valid, it is good for one year after the abuser is released.

Application of Process

Although obtaining an order of protection is a legal process, Texas courts try to make the process as simple for the victim as possible. The victim does not have to pay any fees to request an order of protection. However, the abuser may be required to pay court costs if one is issued. The victim has the choice of applying for an order of protection through a private Texas lawyer, a legal aid firm, the county attorney or the district attorney. The victim files the petition in the county where he, she or the abuser resides. However, if a divorce is already underway, the request must be filed in the same county where the divorce petition was filed.

The victim must supply some basic information regarding his or her contact information, the nature of the relationship with the abuser and details regarding the need for the order of protection. Once the court decides to grant an order of protection, the decision is made official at the initial appearance. The court clerk issues an official notice to the abuser and has it delivered to him or her. During the second hearing, the victim and the abuser are both permitted to have legal counsel represent them.

Impact of an Order of Protection

An order of protection provides specific restrictions on the abuser. He or she is ordered to stay away from the residence and workplace of the victim. Additionally, the abuser is prohibited from inflicting violence, harassing, stalking or threatening the victim. The abuser may be instructed to hand over firearms or attend counseling. If the parties are going through divorce or have children together, the order of protection may include provisions related to child support or not to have contact with the child or his or her school. If the abuser violates the order of protection even if contact is consensual, the abuser can be found guilty of contempt of court and be required to pay a fine or spend time in jail.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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