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Texas law provides clear protections for victims of domestic violence. If you or your child has been abused, you are entitled protection, and our McKinney domestic violence lawyer can help you seek immediate relief in the Texas courts.
The method for obtaining legal protection against domestic violence in Texas is to file for a domestic violence injunction. These injunctions are commonly referred to as “restraining orders” and “protective orders,” and they can be used to protect spouses, partners and children from abuses including:
- Physical violence
- Sexual assault
- Stalking involving serious bodily injury, threats or weapons
Once an injunction has been issued, typically, the abuser will not be allowed within a certain distance of you, your children, and possibly your place of employment or your children’s school. In addition, the abuser may also be prohibited from carrying a firearm except in specific circumstances, such as in relation to their job.
Restraining Order vs. Protective Order
Although the terms “restraining order” and “protective order” are often used interchangeably, there are important distinctions between these two types of domestic violence injunctions under Texas law:
Restraining Orders for Domestic Violence
A restraining order is a court order that is issued in connection with an ongoing court proceeding. In the domestic violence context, this is most often a custody battle or divorce. If you are going through a divorce or are in the process of separating from your partner, our attorneys can file for a restraining order to protect you and your children. Restraining orders are typically shorter in duration (usually lasting for up to the duration of the related court proceeding), and they can be replaced with long-term protective orders when necessary.
Protective Orders for Domestic Violence
A protective order (or “order of protection”) is a form of domestic violence injunction that you can obtain at any time, regardless of whether you are currently involved in a legal dispute with your spouse or partner. Once granted by the court, a protective order will prohibit your spouse or partner from having contact with you or your children; and, in appropriate circumstances, a protective order can also include a broader scope of protection which prohibits contact with relatives or use of shared property.
When necessary, the Texas state courts will grant temporary protective orders on an emergency basis, and you will not need your spouse or partner to appear in court in order for the judge to issue an injunction. However, your spouse or partner may have the opportunity to challenge the injunction later. At Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC, our McKinney domestic violence lawyer can represent you in the initial “ex parte” request for protection as well as any subsequent contested proceedings.
Violating a protection order is a serious offense. If your spouse or partner violates your protective order, he or she can face contempt of court, criminal charges and even jail time.
The Impact of a Domestic Violence Injunction on Divorce: Our McKinney Domestic Violence Lawyer Explains
If you are going through a divorce, being a victim of domestic violence can have a significant impact on the outcome of the process. The greatest impact will be on you and your spouse’s respective rights of custody and visitation. Since all custody and visitation arrangements must protect the best interests of the children involved, the courts typically will not grant the same parental rights to an abuser and a parent with no history of domestic violence. Additionally, while the courts generally take the position that it is in a child’s best interests to spend some time with both parents, spending unsupervised time with an abusive parent clearly is not in any child’s best interests.
When awarding custody and visitation rights in divorces involving evidence of domestic violence, the Texas courts will focus on question such as:
- How much violence, if any, have the children seen?
- What do the children want to happen?
- What does the parent with the injunction want?
- What does the abusive parent want?
- What steps is the abusive parent taking to change?
- How stable is the household now?
- Which of the parents is more mentally-stable overall?
FAQs: Restraining Orders and Protective Orders for Domestic Violence
Q: Can both spouses seek protection against domestic violence in Texas?
Yes. In McKinney, Texas, and throughout the rest of the state, both spouses have equal rights to seek protection against domestic violence. The same is true for unmarried partners. If you or your child has experienced abuse, or if you fear for you or your children’s safety, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
Q: Can same-sex spouses and partners obtain restraining orders and protective orders in Texas?
Yes. If you are married or share a household with an abusive same-sex spouse or partner, you can go to court and file for a domestic violence injunction either incident to your divorce or independent of any divorce proceedings.
Q: How can I prove that I am a victim (or my child is a victim) of domestic violence?
In order to obtain a protective order, you will need evidence that that you or your child has been victimized by an abusive spouse, partner or parent. Medical records and police incident reports are both solid forms of evidence, and witness testimony can be helpful as well. When you contact us, we will walk you through everything you need to know in order to help us obtain an injunction on your behalf.
Q: Do I need a lawyer to file for a domestic violence injunction?
No, you are not required to have legal representation in order to file for a restraining order or protective order. However, due to the risks involved, it is highly recommended that you at least speak with an attorney about what you need to do in order to secure adequate legal protection.
Speak With a McKinney Domestic Violence Lawyer for Free
If you need to seek a restraining order or protective order for domestic violence, we urge you to contact us promptly for a free consultation. Our domestic violence lawyers are happy to help; and, if necessary, we can take immediate action to secure emergency protection. You can reach a McKinney domestic violence lawyer by phone at (214) 726-1450, or send us your contact information and we will be in touch with you as soon as possible.