Houston Family Law Attorneys Helping Families with Protective Orders
Protective orders are legal injunctions utilized by courts in Texas to safeguard individuals who have experienced or are threatened with domestic violence, sexual assault, or imminent serious bodily harm. The understanding of protective orders is crucial for those seeking protection, as well as those issued with an order.
By definition, a protective order is a court order designed to prohibit specific harmful conduct, thus ensuring the physical and emotional safety of the potential victim.
The Farias Law Firm in Houston, Texas, is the trusted ally you need when facing sensitive and complex legal situations. Whether you’re seeking a protective order, dealing with a child custody case, or navigating through a family law issue, our seasoned attorneys work diligently to safeguard your rights.
We prioritize your unique needs and circumstances, employing a meticulous, compassionate approach to deliver results that serve your best interests. As problem-solvers and relentless advocates, our dedication to your cause extends beyond mere legal representation; we are your staunch supporters in these challenging times.
With bilingual communication in English and Spanish, and no reliance on translators, we ensure your voice is clearly heard.
Reach out to us today at 713-364-3942 and let us stand by your side in the pursuit of justice.
Types of Protective Orders in Texas
Texas law identifies several types of protective orders, each corresponding to different situations. The three main types are:
- Temporary Ex Parte Orders – The court issues these orders when it believes that the applicant is in immediate danger. A temporary protective order can be granted without the presence of the accused party.
- Final Protective Orders – Following a formal hearing in which both parties are present, a final protective order may be issued. These orders last for a specified period, usually up to two years but can be extended under certain conditions.
- Magistrate’s Orders of Emergency Protection (Emergency Protective Orders) – These orders are typically issued following an arrest for domestic violence, sexual assault, or other severe crimes indicating a likelihood of serious bodily harm.
Special categories include Family Violence Protective Orders and Sexual Assault Protective Orders, tailored to address specific forms of abuse.
Who Can Apply for a Protective Order in Texas?
Anyone who has been a victim of family violence, sexual assault, or is in imminent threat of serious bodily harm can apply for a protective order in Texas. This includes household members and individuals in a sexual relationship with the abuser.
Applications are filed at the district court commissioner’s office or the clerk’s office, depending on the jurisdiction. It’s crucial to include any relevant evidence of abuse, such as a police report, when filing the application.
The Process of Obtaining a Protective Order in Texas
The process of securing a protective order in Texas involves several steps. The best thing you can do is seek the help of an experienced family law attorney, such as those found here at The Farias Law Firm.
- Application – First, an application must be completed and submitted either in-person at the district court commissioner’s office, or electronically, if allowed by local rules. The application should include detailed information about the abusive incidents and evidence supporting these claims.
- Review – Once the application is filed, a judge reviews the evidence to determine if there are reasonable grounds for issuing a Temporary Ex Parte Order, designed to provide immediate protection. This temporary order lasts until the final hearing.
- Serving – The next step involves serving the accused party (the abuser) with a copy of the protective order application and notice of the final hearing date. This service is typically conducted by local law enforcement or a private process server.
- Hearing – The final hearing is a significant stage, as both parties appear in the assigned courtroom, offering the accused party an opportunity to contest the allegations. After hearing both sides, the judge makes the final decision. If the court finds sufficient evidence of abuse or threat, it will issue a Final Protective Order.
The Role of an Attorney in the Process
Navigating through the process of obtaining a protective order can be challenging and emotionally taxing, making the role of an attorney integral. The attorneys here at Farias Law Firm will provide valuable guidance, support, and advocacy throughout the process.
Your attorney will help you draft a comprehensive application, prepare you for the final hearing, and ensure your rights and interests are effectively represented.
No one should have to navigate the legal process alone, and we are here to help.
Consequences of Violating a Protective Order in Texas
Violation of a protective order is a serious offense in Texas, treated as contempt of court and potentially leading to criminal charges. The repercussions depend on the nature of the violation and may include hefty fines, jail time, and potential enhancement of future sentences. If the abuser violates the order, the victim or any witness of the violation should immediately report to the police.
Difference Between Protective Orders and Restraining Orders
Although often used interchangeably, a protective order and a restraining order are not the same. A restraining order is a civil matter, typically used in family law cases such as divorce or custody battles. A protective order, however, is more severe and often involves criminal cases where a victim’s safety is at risk due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or threats of serious bodily harm.
Protective Orders, Child Custody, and Child Support
In Texas, a protective order can have significant implications for child custody and child support arrangements. When the court issues a protective order, it can also make temporary orders concerning child support and custody. This is particularly the case when domestic violence or abuse is involved and the safety and wellbeing of the child are at risk.
In such circumstances, the court can award temporary custody of the child to the non-offending parent and order the offending parent to pay child support. The aim here is to ensure the needs of the child are met adequately during this period. The exact amount will depend on various factors, including the income of the offending parent and the needs of the child.
It’s important to note that these child support orders are temporary and are primarily designed to provide immediate financial support to the custodial parent and the child. The court can later modify these orders at the final hearing or in subsequent child support proceedings.
However, navigating the intersection of child support and protective orders can be complex. If you are a parent seeking a protective order and you also require child support, it’s advisable to seek legal guidance. A knowledgeable attorney can help you understand your rights and the steps you need to take to secure the financial support necessary for your child’s wellbeing.
The Farias Law Firm in Houston, Texas, has extensive experience in both family law and protective orders, providing dedicated legal support in such matters. Our attorneys understand the urgency and sensitivity of these issues and work diligently to ensure that the rights and needs of both you and your child are effectively addressed.
What’s the difference between an interim protective order and a final protective order in Texas?
An interim protective order is the initial order that’s issued to provide immediate protection for the applicant. It is typically issued when the court is satisfied that there’s an imminent threat of physical harm or abuse. A final protective order, on the other hand, is issued after a formal hearing where both parties have a chance to present their case. It provides longer-term protection and may last up to two years, or longer in certain circumstances.
How can a protective order impact a person’s rights?
A protective order can significantly restrict a person’s rights. For instance, it can limit their ability to go to certain places or to contact certain individuals, including their own children in some cases. It may also impact their right to possess a firearm. A violation of these conditions can lead to serious consequences including criminal charges.
Can a protective order be modified or dissolved?
Yes, a protective order can be modified or dissolved. Either party can file a motion requesting modification or dissolution. However, the judge will only grant such a request if they believe that the change is in the best interests of the person protected by the order.
Does a protective order also cover other household members?
Yes, a protective order can extend to cover other household members or any person who may be in immediate danger. This could include children, other family members living in the same house, or even roommates.
What happens if I need a protective order but the district court is closed?
In urgent situations where you fear imminent serious bodily harm and the district court is closed, you can apply for an Emergency Protective Order (EPO). EPOs can be issued by a magistrate after an arrest for family violence, stalking, sexual assault, or human trafficking. These orders are temporary and meant to provide immediate protection until you can apply for a longer-term order.
Speak to The Farias Law Firm Today
While protective orders are powerful tools designed to provide safety for victims of abuse, understanding the process and ramifications associated with them is critical. Legal guidance is highly recommended to navigate these complex legal waters, which is where the Farias Law Firm can help.
With a strong commitment to safeguarding clients’ rights and welfare, we stand ready to provide the support you need throughout this challenging journey.