The Requirements for a Restraining Order in Texas

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A restraining order is also called a protective order. It is intended to protect one person by restraining the actions of another. Restraining orders are often used in domestic violence cases to stop or prevent partner abuse, but that is not their only application. There are many different types of restraining orders in Texas to meet the needs of many different situations, but the procedure to obtain one is fairly standard.

Types of Restraining Orders in Texas

A restraining or protective order is a court order requiring one person to stop bothering, stalking or abusing another person. The order can do more than simply order him to stop certain behavior. It can also restrict the abuser in other ways, like ordering him to stay away from the victim or her family.

A restraining order can also tell the abuser to stay out of the house where the victim lives, and keep away from her worksite and the schools her children attend. It can also suspend a person's right to bear or even own firearms.

Texas law provides for two different types of protective orders a person can request: a temporary ex parte protective order and a final protective order. These orders can be based on several different circumstances including:

  • family violence,
  • sexual assault or abuse,
  • stalking, or
  • trafficking.

Note that a special relationship is required for a family violence restraining order. It includes violence between intimate partners, people who are dating and/or same-sex partners. No special relationship is required for other types of restraining orders.

Read More: Abuse of Restraining Orders

Getting a Temporary Restraining Order

A temporary restraining order is issued ex parte. That means that the order is issued before the court has a chance to hear from both parties. These are issued on a temporary basis when there is reason to believe that the person getting the order is in danger. For a Texas court to issue a temporary protective order, the applicant must show that there is a clear and present danger of family violence, sexual assault or other harm.

The applicant can fill out the application at a private attorney's office, through the district attorney, the county attorney or a legal aid service. He must sign it before a notary or judge. This temporary order is intended to last up until the time when a permanent hearing can be held.

Getting a Permanent Restraining Order

The steps for getting a restraining order in Texas are the same, regardless of the type of order a person is seeking. The person seeking the order must go to the district attorney's office or the courthouse to obtain the forms. Once they are filled out, they are filed with the court. A date is set for the hearing.

The person to be restrained must be served with a copy of the petition for restraining order and a time and place for the hearing for a permanent protective order. The judge presides over the hearing, during which both parties can make their arguments. The court decides whether to grant a protective order.

The court will include an expiration date in the protective order. Generally a permanent protective order lasts for two years or less, but the court can rule that the order remain in place for more than two years in certain circumstances. For example, if the abuser caused serious bodily injury to the victim or a member of her family, Texas law allows for a longer protective order. A longer protective order can also be issued if the person to be restrained has had two or more protective orders issued against her already, and the judge determines that she is likely to continue to commit further family violence.