By: Leslie Barrows
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Family violence and protective orders in Texas divorce and domestic disputes
A Texas court may issue a protective order requiring a person to stop harming another. In most cases, protective orders are used in cases involving family violence and divorce. A protective order identifies the people to be protected against any aggressors and contains specific detail regarding the detailed restrictions to prevent contact. There are penalties for violating the terms of a protective order, and the courts take violations seriously. That said, a protective order is only a piece of paper and it cannot stop someone from committing further acts of violence. In high conflict divorce and domestic disputes, it is imperative that family violence victims are aware of safety risks and have some type of support system in place with family and friends.
In a recent family law podcast interview, Leslie Barrows spoke about domestic violence, protective orders and a tragic family violence incident that ended in the deaths of victims.
Texas Family Code: Issuance of a Protective Order
When an individual make an application for a protective order based on family violence that has occurred, and/or is likely to occur in the future, the court will hold a hearing and make its findings. The court may issue a protective order in the best interests of the person in need of protection upon its determination that family violence has occurred and that it is likely that the aggressor is likely to commit family violence in the future. Most protective orders are issued for a period of up to two years, and more in some cases. Sometimes in high conflict divorce cases, both parties apply for protective orders and may agree to the terms of mutual protective orders.
The contents of a protective order may include the following information:
- Identification of the individuals, including children, to be protected under the order;
- Prohibition against removing a child, property, pets identified in the order;
- Grant of exclusive possession of a residence and order for others to vacate the residence;
- Prohibition against communicating with directly with individuals named in the order;
- Prohibition against driving by or being near a residence of place of employment;
- Possessing a firearm, unless the individual is a member of law enforcement;
- Additional terms and prohibitions allowed by the statutes and the court’s discretion.
In some cases, courts require individuals found to engage in family violence to attend a counseling program. If the individual fails to comply with the program, they may be punished by contempt of court.
Despite all the explicit warnings listed in a protective order, some people simply do not care and find themselves above law and order. If you have a valid protective order and the aggressor named in the protective order violates it without regard for consequences. If you are the protected individual and your aggressor violates the protective order, you should call 911 immediately.
Whether you recently obtained a protective order or are in the process of doing so, it is smart to set up a network of family and friends who can provide temporary shelter and assistance. If the person committing family violence also controls access to property and money, and that is not otherwise addressed in the protective order, proper arrangements should be made.
Additionally, it is a good idea to vary your routines. Take different routes to common destinations at different times. Make note of your surroundings and be aware of whether you are somewhere that there might be witnesses or surveillance cameras. While it may sound extreme to take many precautions, it is better to be safe than sorry.
For more information about protective orders in Texas and about family violence and divorce, please do not hesitate to contact The Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.
If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located at 700 East Southlake Boulevard in Southlake near the Town Square.
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