Crime Victims

Protective Orders

What is a protective order?

A protective order is a civil court order that is designed to stop violent and harassing behavior and to protect you and your family members from an abuser. Abusers who violate certain parts of a protective order can be arrested.

How can a protective order help me?

The purpose of a protective order is to prevent future assaults by your partner. The protective order will usually make it illegal for him/her to be near you, your children, your home, your workplace, and your children's school. Then you can call the police for help when he/she is where he/she is not supposed to be and the police can intervene before he/she assaults you or your children again.
A protective order may order your abuser to:

  • Stop committing acts of family or dating violence.
  • Stop communicating with you or a family member.
  • Stop threatening you or a family member.
  • Stay away from your home or place of employment.
  • Stay away from a school or day center that a child protected under the order attends.
  • Complete a battering intervention and prevention program.
  • Attend mandatory counseling.
  • Not remove your child from your possession or from the jurisdiction of the court or to allow you visitation with your child.
  • Stop any transfer or disposal of property.
  • Stop any other behavior designed to harass, annoy, abuse, or embarrass you.
  • Pay child or spousal support for a period up to two years.
  • Leave your home or other specified property (if certain conditions are met).
  • Turn over any firearms in his/her possession to law enforcement (unless the person is a peace officer actively engaged in employment as a sworn, full-time paid employee of a state agency).
  • Perform any other acts that are necessary to prevent or reduce the likelihood of family or dating violence.

Who is eligible for a protective order?

You can apply for a protective order if your abuser is one of the following:

  • A current or former spouse
  • A sibling (brother or sister)
  • A blood relative such as a parent
  • A relative by marriage (an in-law)
  • A person with whom you have a child in common
  • A current roommate
  • A former roommate
  • A foster parent
  • A foster child
  • A person who you are dating or have dated

A person who has a divorce pending is eligible for a protective order. The protective order must be filed in the court in which the divorce is pending. You may also be able to get a protective order against someone who has sexually assaulted you even if they are not a family or household member (like a co-worker or neighbor).

What does it cost to get a protective order?

Nothing, a protective order is free. You cannot be charged a fee for filing, serving, or entering a protective order. The court may order that your abuser pay any attorney fees (if applicable), and all other fees, charges, or expenses incurred in connection with the protective order.

What types of protective orders are available?

In Texas there are three types of Orders of Protection:

  1. Magistrate’s Order of Emergency Protection
  2. Temporary Ex Parte Order
  3. Permanent Protective Order

What is a Magistrate’s Order of Emergency Protection? How long does it last?

A Magistrate's Order of Emergency Protection (what most people call an Emergency Protective Order). These are called different things in different parts of the state.

They are good for 31-61 days.

If you partner has been arrested for a family violence assault, you must ask for this before he/she is released from jail.

What is a Temporary Ex Parte Order? How long does it last?

A Temporary Ex Parte Order is a court order designed to provide you and your family members with immediate protection from your abuser. In order to get a Permanent Protective Order, you need to have a full court hearing with your abuser present. A Temporary Ex Parte Order will protect you from the time you file for the Permanent Protective Order until your full court hearing.

You may receive a Temporary Ex Parte Order without your abuser present.

The court can issue a Temporary Ex Parte Order if it decides that the information given in your application for a protective order presents a clear and present danger of family violence to either you or a family member.

A Temporary Ex Parte Order lasts for the period of time specified in the order, usually until the date of your full court hearing. In most places the court will schedule a date for a formal hearing no later than the 14th day after the date the application is filed

What is a Permanent (or Final) Protective Order? How long does it last?

A Permanent (or Final) Protective Order is a court order that is designed to stop violent and harassing behavior and to protect you and your family from the abuser.

A Permanent Protective Order is effective for the time period specified in the order up to a maximum of 2 years. If there is no time period specified in the order, then it expires on the second anniversary of the date the order was issued.

If the Respondent is still incarcerated on the date that the protective order is set to expire, then the expiration date is extended for one year from his date of release.