In my field of practice there are certain types of cases that I take very seriously, they are protective orders. Now this is not to say that I do not take a divorce, or child custody case seriously, but when a protective order is filed someone’s life may be at stake. This week I want to talk about what protective orders are and what you need to prove to get one.

                A protective order is an order signed by the court to protect victims of abuse from their abuser. Under the Texas Family Code a Code a person is entitled to a protective order when the court finds that family violence has occurred and is likely to occur again in the future. Of course, in order to determine if you qualify for a protective order, you must know the definition of family violence under the code. The more obvious portion of the definition is physical acts by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household. This covers things such as bodily injury, physical assault, sexual assault, and physical harm. However, the family code goes on to include threats from the abuser that would reasonably cause you fear of imminent physical harm.

                There is an important exception to note under the defining statutes for family violence, and that is physical harm or bodily injury that you inflict will not be considered family violence if it is done in self-defense. For example, if a spouse comes home after a night a drinking and grabs the other spouse by the throat to choke them, then the other spouse will not have committed family violence if they punch the assaulting spouse in the nose. 

                The Family Code also has provisions for people who aren’t married but are just dating. The term is called “Dating Violence” and it has the same standards as family violence. A dating relationship is defined as a romantic or intimate relationship between individuals. The existence of that romantic relationship is determined based on the length of time, its nature, and how often the individuals interact in a way that would signify a dating relationship.

                If a protective order is granted the abuser will be prohibited from directly or indirectly hurting, threatening, or harassing you or your children if applicable. They will be under orders to stay away from you, your family, your home, workplace, and the children’s school. And they will no longer be permitted to carry firearms. The order will generally last for two years, however the judge can set it for longer. This usually occurs in orders protecting against stalking and sexual assault. If the abuser violates the protective order, they have committed a crime. Call the police, show the responding officer the order, and have them charged. If they violate multiple times, felony charges can be applied.