Most petitions for divorce or seeking relief in a suit affecting the parent child relationship in Texas include a request for a two-week temporary restraining order. This is intended to maintain the status quo and prevent one spouse from taking any action that harms the other until a hearing may be held.
The temporary restraining order may prevent spouses from hiding money or spending money in abnormal ways. It also may prevent the interference of the use of the marital residence. The temporary restraining order cannot exclude a party from the home without special circumstances, and it prevents the changing of locks or any other type of exclusionary action. The temporary restraining order specifically excepts spending money for reasonable and necessary living expense, including attorneys’ fees, or business expenses of the parties.
Some counties utilize a standard temporary restraining order, called the Standing Order, in every family law case, including divorces, to automatically and mutually prohibit both spouses from taking certain actions upon filing of the case. The Standing Order is effective upon filing of the petition. The enforceability of the Standing Order may be questionable, so some lawyers may elect to request a temporary restraining order in addition to the standing order. Across the state, 76 counties utilize the Standing Order in lieu of the standard temporary restraining order. Of the larger counties, Dallas, Travis, and Bexar have Standing Orders, where Tarrant and Harris do not. Each county’s Standing Order may differ slightly. Be sure to check your county as to their policy on Standing Orders. The appendix contains a table with reference to the Standing Orders of various counties.
If your county does not have a Standing Order that applies automatically to family law cases, you can still be protected. Instead, parties must file a request for temporary restraining order, detailing the specific family law restraining orders that apply to the particular situation. If the requested order is not one of the laundry list of applicable restraining orders set forth in the Texas Family Code, then the party seeking the restraining order must include an affidavit supporting why the order is necessary under the specific circumstances of that particular case. Again, except in very unusual circumstances, the court will not issue an order removing someone from the marital residence until a hearing can be held. A case-specific temporary restraining order in this situation will last for 14 days, with the possibility of one 14-day extension, so a hearing must be held during that 14 day period to resolve the issues raised by the temporary restraining order.
Traditionally, there has been some question among lawyers about the enforceability of Standing Orders as compared to restraining orders. Recently, the Texas Legislature has codified enforcement of Standing Orders to provide greater remedies for enforcement.
STANDING ORDERS BY TEXAS COUNTY
The following information was compiled by Michelle May O’Neil of O’Neil Wysocki, P.C., Dallas, Texas, in January 2016, based on the information available at that time. Before you rely on this information, confirm with the county at issue whether this information remains accurate. Many courts update their policies and orders frequently. If you are a lawyer practicing in one of these counties and have updated information, please send it to me.
Deaf Smith: No
El Paso: No
Fort Bend: No
Jeff Davis: No
Jim Hogg: No
Jim Wells: No
Palo Pinto: No
Red River: No
San Jacinto: No
Val Verde: No
Van Zandt: No
HAT TIP to Patricia Orozco Hardy for her help in correcting the Grimes, Leon, Madison, and Walker County listings.