Family Violence and Protective Orders

Domestic violence is usually addressed only when it involves an act of physical violence, but many survivors reveal that they suffer as much from verbal and emotional abuse as from physical abuse. If you have been the subject of physical, verbal or emotional abuse in your family and you have questions about the impact of domestic violence on dissolution of marriage, contact our firm to schedule a consultation with a family law attorney who can help you sort out the issues.

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For experienced assistance in family law matters, contact an attorney who was recognized by the Office of the Attorney General as a special matter expert in the areas of medical support and the child support review process. Contact an attorney who has handled thousands of claims by calling 281-823-8481.

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Family Violence and Protective Orders

To stop or prevent family violence in Texas, a person may file an application for a protective order with the court. In general, a Texas court will issue a protective order if it finds that family violence has occurred and is likely to occur in the future. (See Texas Family Code § 81.001.) The protective order may apply only to the person who committed family violence or it may apply to any party. (See Texas Family Code §§ 85.022, 85.021.) An attorney at Cynthia Tracy, Attorney at Law, P.C. in Houston, Texas, is available to answer your questions about obtaining a protective order to stop family violence. Contact Cynthia Tracy, Attorney at Law, P.C. today to schedule a consultation.

Family Violence and Dating Violence

Section 71.002 of the Texas Family Code defines "family violence" as:

  • An act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself
  • Abuse by a member of a family or household toward a child of the family or household

Dating violence is a type of family violence in which an individual commits an act of violence against another individual with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. (See Texas Family Code § 71.0021.)

Applications for Protective Orders

An application for a protective order to stop or prevent family (domestic) violence may be filed in either the county in which the applicant resides or the county in which the respondent resides. Family Code § 82.003.

An adult member of the family or household may file an application for a protective order to protect herself or himself or any other member of her or his family or household. (See Texas Family Code § 82.002(a).) With regard to dating violence, an application may be filed by an adult member of the dating relationship. (See Texas Family Code § 82.002(b).) When the protective order is sought to protect a child from family violence, any adult may file the application. (See Texas Family Code § 82.002(c).)

Clear and Present Danger of Family Violence

A person who is experiencing family (domestic) violence or has experienced family violence in the past may need immediate intervention to stop or prevent the abuse. In situations where there is a clear and present danger of family violence, the court may enter a temporary ex parte order without a hearing and without providing notice to family or household members affected by the order. (See Texas Family Code § 83.001.) After a temporary ex parte order is entered, any person affected by the order may file a motion to vacate the order. (See Texas Family Code § 83.004.)

Temporary ex parte orders are valid for the period specified in the order (not to exceed 20 days) and may be extended for additional 20-day periods on the applicant's request or motion of the court. (See Texas Family Code § 83.002.)

Enforcement of Foreign Protective Orders

Judicial Enforcement

Texas has adopted the Uniform Interstate Enforcement of Domestic Violence Protection Orders Act (See Texas Family Code §§ 88.001 to 88.008). Under the Act, a Texas tribunal (court, agency, or other entity authorized by law to issue or modify a protective order) is required to enforce certain protective orders issued by a tribunal of another state (foreign protective orders), including foreign protective orders regarding:

  • Possession of and access to a child if the provisions were issued in accordance with the jurisdictional requirements governing the issuance of possession and access orders in the issuing state. (See Texas Family Code § 88.003(b).)
  • Child support if the order was issued in accordance with federal law. (See Texas Family Code § 88.003(c).)

A "protective order" is an injunction or other order issued by a tribunal under the domestic violence, family violence, or other laws of the issuing state to prevent one person from harassing, contacting, communicating with, being in physical proximity to, or engaging in violent or threatening acts against another person. (See Texas Family Code § 88.002(5).)

The Uniform Interstate Enforcement of Protective Orders Act requires Texas law enforcement officers to enforce a foreign protective order as if it were an order rendered by a Texas tribunal if there is probable cause to believe that the foreign protective order exists and has been violated. (See Texas Family Code § 88.004.)

Protected individuals who pursue enforcement of a foreign protective order under the Act are not precluded from pursuing other legal or equitable remedies against the individual against whom enforcement of a protective order is sought. (See Texas Family Code § 88.007.)

If you are or have been the victim of family (domestic) violence, a protective order may be able to stop or prevent family violence. If you obtained a family or domestic violence protective order in another state, the terms of the order may be enforceable in Texas. Please feel free to contact an attorney at Cynthia Tracy, Attorney at Law, P.C. in Houston, Texas, to learn more about obtaining or enforcing a family violence protective order.

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