In Texas, it may be necessary to file a restraining order against your spouse or partner. However, a restraining order is significantly different from a protective order, so let’s explore what the difference is between the two.
A Restraining Order Is Generally Associated With a Divorce and Doesn’t Usually Concern Criminal Behavior
While many people have it in their heads that a restraining order in Texas is what’s necessary to deal with family violence of any sort (this includes sexual assault), a restraining order is actually used more often during divorces to explicitly describe what sort of conduct is allowed between two parties where there hasn’t been any violence.
Basically, it’s a list of dos and don’ts for people who are going through a contentious divorce and is usually meant to keep individuals from contacting one another for one reason or another or from taking certain actions.
This might be necessary if your spouse or partner is refusing to follow the rules that the court has set down or is exhibiting concerning behavior. This might be necessary to ensure that visitation rules for your children are being followed or to keep you or your spouse from accessing or spending money in a joint account or from selling certain assets.
Generally speaking, this is only necessary during a contentious divorce. Not all divorces are going to see a restraining order issued.
A restraining order may also be issued after a divorce if one party refuses to follow visitation rules, for example.
One thing that’s important to keep in mind when it comes to restraining orders in Texas—while the courts have the ability to send someone to jail if they violate a restraining order, it usually takes a number of violations and, essentially, for the offender to seriously anger the judge with willful disrespect of the court’s orders before a judge is going to throw someone in jail.
Essentially, jail is used as a last resort. Restraining orders are considered a civil matter—no one is committing a crime by violating a restraining order—so the police will stay out of it. If you call the police because of a violation of a restraining order, they may talk to your spouse or partner and chastise them for the violation, but they aren’t going to arrest them or charge them with anything.
This is very different from a protective order.
A Protective Order Is What Most People Think of When They Think of a Restraining Order
A protective order is what most people are actually thinking of when they think of a restraining order. That being said, in Texas, the difference is huge.
A protective order is almost always put in place because there has been violence of some sort committed against you. This can vary widely, from sexual assault and domestic violence to simple assault. However, there are other actions that can drive you to seek a protective order, like stalking or harassment, and it’s important to note that protective orders are not only for violence by a family member. You can seek a protective order from anyone who has taken these actions against you in any way.
How the offender is restrained legally and what they can or cannot do depends heavily on what they did to drive you to seek a protective order in the first place. The goal is to protect you from violent or potentially violent individuals who have abused you in some way.
Depending on the county that you live in, you may not have to get an attorney to get a protective order—you may be able to go directly to the courts and request the protective order. In these cases, the district attorney or a county attorney may represent you in court. There are also many resources available outside of the courts—like family violence organizations, which are generally nonprofit—who can guide you in how to get a protective order in Texas.
Protective orders can be enforced criminally. If the person against whom the protective order has been issued violates the terms of the order, you can call the police, and, depending on the terms of the order, that person may be charged with a criminal violation.
What crimes they may be charged with, how long the order will stay in place, what specific actions are not allowed—this all depends on what the person has done to move you to ask for a protective order and what the judge ultimately decides the terms of the order will be.
Another important point to note is that you often don’t have to actually go to court in person to get this order—it will be taken care of for you. This is because the courts are aware of the dangers of putting the victim in the same room as the offender.
Contact The Julian Firm to Learn More About Protective Orders and Restraining Orders in Texas
If you feel that you need to get a restraining order because your spouse or partner is not following the judge’s orders during a divorce, or if you feel that you are in danger and need a protective order, The Julian Firm can help.