Getting Restraining Orders & Protective Orders in Texas

There is generally a great deal of confusion between a Temporary Restraining Order and a Protective Order.

A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is issued at the request of one party to the judge ("ex parte") and is almost always issued on a joint basis. In other words, both parties must comply with the terms of the Order. The Order is intended to keep the "status quo" in place as to children and property until a hearing can be held before a judge. By law, the hearing must occur within 14 days after issuance of the Order, but may be extended an additional 14 days upon order or the issuing court.

Some examples of TRO terms are that children cannot be removed from their school, money cannot be spent for other than living expenses, or financial records cannot be bestowed. If there is a significant concern about financial transactions, a third party financial institution may be included in the TRO filing.

All TRO hearings are conducted by private attorneys (or attorneys for the child support collection office). Some courts require mediation before a hearing

A Protective Order (PO) is also issued at the request of one party to the judge, but it is because of family violence or the eminent threat of family violence and is an extremely serious matter. It is not a mutual Order. The family violence can be directed at not only family members but also persons in a dating relationship. The Order is good for 20 days before a hearing can be held but may be extended an additional 20 days. The Order shall contain explicit instructions for the respondent (person accused of the wrong doing) not to do which includes coming within a specified distance of the accuser's house, job, children, etc.

If a person is convicted of family violence under the Texas Family Code, the conviction generally remains on the offender's record for 2 yeas and can be the basis for going straight to jail if there is any violation of the terms of the Order. An Application for a Protective Order can be brought by either a private attorney, but is usually done so by the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

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