New Texas law on family violence and protective orders

By: Leslie Barrows October 7, 2015 no comments

New Texas law on family violence and protective orders

A protective order is granted to a petitioner, “if the court finds that family violence has occurred and is likely to occur in the future.[i]” As of September 1, 2015, there are additions to the law under Texas House Bill 1782[ii] The additions to the protective order for family violence law include presumptions that family violence is present under certain circumstances and that presumption allows the court to grant the petitioner’s request for a protective order based on a presumption of family violence when certain facts are alleged. As the Texas legislature clarifies the conditions of the law on family violence and protective orders, more victims of family violence can seek and obtain the legal protection they need for their safety.

About family violence and protective orders.

A protective order is a civil order of a family court in Texas, governed by the Family Code[iii]. When the individual family member(s) asking the court for a protective order they must prove the necessary elements of family violence are necessary for the court to grant the protective order. The power of a protective order is police power to immediately arrest and bring before the court a named individual who violates the terms of the protective order. When a court issues a protective order upon finding family violence occurred or is likely to occur, the order lists specific activities that another individual is not allowed to do. For example, the respondent may not be allowed to be physically present within a certain distance from other members of the family. The order can also prevent someone from showing up or making contact with others at a school, place of work or worship. Phone calls, emails, text messages and social media contact can also be requested to be addressed in a protective order.

If a protective order is violated, call the police immediately. When the named individual in a protective order violates its terms, they may be arrested and jailed until they can see the judge for violating the order. The police power behind a protective order and threat of being jailed should deter people from threatening or committing family violence, however, the protective order is just a piece of paper and individuals with clear intent to do harm may not be dissuaded from violating the order, so it is important to take safety precautions.

The new law for protective orders includes presumptions the courts can use to grant a protective order.

If you request a protective order, the court may grant the order to the petitioner if a presumption that family violence has and is likely to occur in the future, under the new law, changed by House Bill 1782 if the following conditions are present:

  • If the respondent is convicted or placed on deferred adjudication with community supervisions for any of the following offenses against the child for whom the petition is filed;
    1. An offense under Title 5, the offenses against other persons as provided by the Texas Penal Code, in a situation where family violence was determined to have taken place; or
    2. An offense under Title 6, the offenses against family members as provided by the Texas Penal Code;
  • The respondent’s parental rights have been terminated; and
  • The respondent is seeking or attempting to seek contact with the child.

The new changes to the law for family violence protective orders may make it easier for some petitioners to obtain an emergency 20-day order (which can be extended to two years)[iv], which can cause increased liability for the people against whom protective orders are issued. Attorneys can provide legal assistance and counseling for Texans seeking protective orders as well as those who have protective orders naming them and controlling their behavior. For more information about family violence and protective orders, contact The Barrows Firm.

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 downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.

[i] TEXAS FAMILY CODE, SECTION 81.001, Entitlement to Protective Order.

[ii] TEXAS HOUSE BILL 1782, Effective Sept. 1, 2015.

[iii] Texas Attorney General, Crime Victim Services, Protective Orders.

[iv] See HNiii above on protective orders.

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