If you or your child have been the victims of violence or threats of domestic violence, it’s important that you take action to protect your family. A protective order can help prevent abuse and enable the courts to punish your abusers. You may also have questions or concerns about your legal rights if you have been served with a petition for a protective order. If your family law case involves a protective order or allegations of domestic violence, count on the experience of the Youngberg Law Firm.
What Is a Protective Order?
A victim of physical violence, sexual violence, or stalking can obtain a protective order against their abuser. It’s a court order that requires the abuser:
- Not to hurt, harass, or threaten you or your children
- To stay away from you, your family, and your home
- To stay away from your workplace and your child’s school or daycare
- Not to carry a gun, even if the abuser has a permit to do so
The protective order prevents the abuser from directly or indirectly hurting, harassing, or threatening their victims. That means they cannot enlist another person to act on their behalf. Protective orders are also designed to help victims of dating violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.
What Else Can a Protective Order Do?
The judge who issues the protective order may also make decisions regarding:
- Payment of child support and medical support
- Terms and conditions for visitation with the child(ren)
- Kicking the abuser out of the marital home
- Requiring the abuser to submit to drug testing and substance abuse treatment
- Requiring the abuser to take anger management classes
Protective Order Vs. Restraining Order
These two terms are often used interchangeably, but there are significant differences.
A restraining order is a court order directing someone to do or not do something. They often come up in family law proceedings like divorce where one spouse is worried that the other is going to hurt them in some way. For example, the restraining order could prevent a spouse from hitting or hurting the other. But it may also be used to prevent a spouse from draining a bank account or selling marital assets. It can also order a parent not to take the child from his or her current residence.
Restraining orders do not require allegations of family violence the way protective orders do. They are also not criminally enforced like protective orders are. If a party violates a restraining order, the victim must turn to the court for relief. The judge could send the party to jail, but likely will not. This makes restraining orders considerably weaker.
On the other hand, a party can be arrested for violating a protective order. Violations may also result in thousands of dollars in fines and jail sentences of up to two years. The violator could be subjected to contempt of court proceedings as well.
Protective orders generally have more consequences in family and domestic matters. The finding of family violence can later be used in custody decisions. Protective orders can also result in someone losing their job, or make it difficult to obtain employment. For these reasons, parties served with petitions for protective orders often fight them in court.
How Do I Obtain One?
A petitioner must allege that he or she was the victim of family violence to obtain a protective order. They also have to demonstrate that family violence is likely to happen again. Family violence is the intentional infliction of bodily injury, physical harm, assault, or sexual assault. It often goes by the names domestic violence or domestic abuse, but it can involve dating violence as well.
After a petition for protective order is filed, the court will consider whether a temporary protective order should be issued. This is for circumstances where, based on the allegations in the petition, there is a high risk that family violence will happen again. A temporary protective order can only last for 20 days.
A final protective order hearing must be held no later than 14 days after the petition is filed. The respondent (the person against whom the order is sought) will receive a copy of the petition and notice of the date of hearing. During the hearing, the respondent has the chance to defend themselves by presenting evidence and otherwise challenging the claims made in the petition.
How Long Does A Protective Order Last?
The duration of a protective order depends on several factors:
- The type of abuse alleged (stalking, family violence, sexual violence, dating violence, etc.)
- How serious the abuse was
- Whether children were present when the abuse occurred
- Past incidents of family violence
- How likely family violence is to occur again
Protective orders usually last for two years, but they can be longer in certain cases such as those involving sexual assault and stalking. In some cases they can last for life.
How Can The Youngberg Law Firm Help Me?
Protective orders are powerful tools that prevent abuse and, in many cases, save lives. But they also have considerable legal consequences and will affect custody and other aspects of your divorce or family law matter. As mentioned above, a protective order can also impact your career and other parts of your life.
Whether you are requesting or defending against a protective order, having a knowledgeable Texas family law attorney is critical. A victim must convince the judge that family violence has occurred and is likely to occur again. This requires evidence and meeting the applicable burden of proof. On the other hand, if a protective order is sought against you, it will be critical to present compelling evidence as to why the order should not be issued.
Contact Youngberg Law Firm Today
No matter which side of the protective order petition you find yourself on, trust the dedicated team at the Youngberg Law Firm. Call us today to discuss your case.