The Benefits, and Limits, of a Texas Protective Order

A recent post on this blog talked about domestic violence, which is an ongoing problem throughout Texas, including in Fort Bend County and the greater Houston metro area. In addition to filing criminal charges, people in Sugar Land might immediately think to go to court and get a protective order, especially since they are relatively easy to request.

The benefits of a protective order are many. First, it is easy to find assistance with filing them. For example, a person can seek out the assistance of a county attorney if a civil protective order is needed. Moreover, in certain cases, a court will immediately issue a temporary protective order, valid for 20 days, giving a victim of domestic violence some protection until a hearing can be held. Although a person asking for a protective order must be truthful when doing so, the court can issue these 20-day orders even without hearing from the other side.

The other benefit of a protective order is that it allows the police to immediately arrest a perpetrator without having to wait for him or her to commit further abuse. It is a crime in Texas to violate a protective order’s terms, and these terms can put sharp limitations on a person’s ability even to contact the protected individual in ways other than face-to-face.

One limitation of civil protective order, that is, one not issued in connection with a criminal case, is that it is temporary. Such a protective order will expire after two years. Furthermore, they have to be based on the fact that some sort of abuse or domestic violence occurred. A victim may be expected to discuss and prove that abuse in court if the alleged perpetrator challenges the order.

Another limitation is that protective orders usually do not address issues of property, child custody, and child support. Even when they do, any orders expire after one year. Perhaps more importantly, the police do not enforce these sorts of orders. If a person violates child support, property or custody orders listed in a protective order, the victim will have to go back to court and ask for a finding of contempt.

While protective orders offer a lot of important benefits, it is important that victims also recognize their limitations and compensate for those limitations through other legal action, possibly with the assistance of a family law attorney.

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