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Emergency Protection Order

Texas courts seek to provide victims of domestic abuse with protection from additional violence. Protective orders can be ordered between:

  • Family members living in the same household;
  • Family members living separately; and
  • Any individuals living in the same household.

When obtained through family court, one or multiple individuals can seek emergency relief that ultimately results in longer-term protection. Depending on the circumstances and timing of a case, families can obtain relief through either the family or criminal courts.

Protection orders include temporary “ex-parte” orders and a magistrate’s protection order. In temporary ex-parte orders, a judge can review an application for protection without giving the other person time to respond to allegations. This type of protection order provides protection for up to 20 days. Within that time, a judge will request a hearing on the petition, during which both parties can explain their sides of the allegations.

After the hearing, the court can issue a final protective order for up to two years. Both temporary and final protective orders are family court matters that typically result when the perpetrator has not been arrested after causing harm to the petitioning family members.

In a magistrate’s protective order, a magistrate can issue an emergency protective order if the perpetrator has been arrested. In some situations, magistrates are required to issue these orders, even if the victim has not requested one. Magistrate orders result from a criminal proceeding, but there can be some overlap with Texas family court jurisdiction.

Texas Emergency Protection Order Lawyer

Emergency protection orders can provide a form of protection for those who are victims of violence or the threat of violence. At Horak Law, Matthew Horak is an experienced Texas family law attorney who is passionate about ensuring that those who are facing violence get the legal support they need.

Call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000 to set up your first consultation in either The Woodlands or Houston, TX.

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Information Center

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Filing An Application For Protection

To obtain protection through Texas family courts, the person filing for relief must submit an application for protection with the local clerk of courts. Only certain individuals can request relief. Adults who are either family members or living in the same household as the perpetrator can apply. Oftentimes, the person filing an application falls under both categories, as domestic violence tends to occur between family members who live together. An adult can also file an application on behalf of a child living in the home or outside the home if the person applying is related to the child. Protective orders often apply to familial situations wherein there has been repeated domestic abuse, current and prior dating relationships, or roommate situations.

Under some circumstances, the law provides greater protection for children. If the applicant and perpetrator are in a dating relationship, any adult or state social services agency can file an application on behalf of an affected child. Texas law allows for many opportunities for relief. You may simply need to speak with an attorney in confidence to identify the correct process for your situation.

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Proof Needed For Protection

A convincing application for a temporary ex-parte order provides proof of “clear and present danger of family violence.” Texas law defines “family violence” as acts intended to result in abuse, dating violence, or

  • Physical harm;
  • Bodily injury;
  • Assault; and
  • Sexual assault.

Family violence also includes threats of the above-listed infractions. If evidence includes threats, the threats must reasonably place the victim in fear of immediate family violence. If the application is granted and the parties appear for a hearing, the party requesting protection has the burden of proving that family violence occurred and that it is likely to occur in the future. Proof often includes pictures and testimony.

Although the party defending against the application does not have the burden of proof, the defending party is given an opportunity to offer proof, testify to explain their version of events, and have others testify. If the person filing the application wins, the court can impose requirements or restrictions on the perpetrator. If the person defending the application wins, the court will dismiss the ex-parte order.

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Relief In Re: Protective Orders

If a judge grants an ex-parte application for protective relief, a judge can provide relief that quickly meets the applicant’s safety needs. Some forms of ex-parte relief can include:

  • Excluding the person from their personal residence, if the victim and perpetrator live together;
  • Restraint from contacting the victim in person and specify how close the perpetrator can be to the victim; and/or
  • Restraint from contacting the victim over email, phone, social media, or through a third party.

The court can add more relief to a final protective order after a hearing, such as:

  • Temporary removal of specific civil rights;
  • Limiting methods of communication between parties sharing children;
  • Temporary child support;
  • Changing custody for orders involving children; and
  • Participation in rehabilitative programs, including domestic violence classes.

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Implications Of Protective Orders

While a court order does not necessarily prevent a party from wrongly engaging with a protected party, violating a protective order can result in a criminal charge and the initiation of a magistrate’s protective order. Repeated violations of an ex-parte order can provide greater proof that family violence is likely to occur in the future, while repeated violations of a final order can provide more reasons for a judge to extend the order later. Protective orders can make it more difficult for the perpetrator to find employment, housing, and to maintain their child custody rights.

Typically, the party identified as a threat is forbidden from contacting the applicant in any way. In situations wherein both parties have filed applications against the other, it is possible for the court to impose two protective orders, which prevents nearly all communication between the parties.

Whether you’re applying for or defending against a protective order, a qualified family law attorney can provide the guidance you’ll need to understand the implications of such an order on the lives of both parties.

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Additional Resources

Texas Advocacy Project – TAP provides further information on magistrate protective orders and when they are likely to apply. – Providing safety resources to all genders, provides explanations for different types of temporary and emergency relief in Texas.

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Houston Emergency Protection Order Attorney | Harris County, TX

Getting a protection order can be one major piece of protecting yourself against violence. If you are a victim of any form of violence, Horak Law can be of assistance. Harris County family law attorney Matthew Horak has over a decade of experience in family law matters and can help you navigate this overwhelming process.

Call Horak Law today at (713) 225-8000 to schedule your first consultation about your emergency protection order case. Horak Law has offices in The Woodlands and Houston, but we accept clients throughout the State including Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, Harris County, Waller County, Montgomery County, and Liberty County.

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  • Texas Board of Legal Specialization | Criminal Law
  • National College for DUI Defense
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Laywers
  • Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association
  • Matt Horak has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer Legion