I have recently had several consults with woman who have been the victims of
domestic violence. In one consult, she confessed her husband had tried to kill her. In another
she and her children had fled the home and were living in a battered woman’s
shelter. I thought an appropriate blog topic based on these consults would
be domestic violence in a divorce case.
Family violence, also called intimate partner violence or
domestic violence, can be defined as a pattern of behavior that is:
- controlling and
- used to gain or maintain power over another.
It can include:
- physical abuse
- emotional or psychological abuse
- financial abuse and
- sexual abuse
According AVDA (Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse) in Texas Harris County
led the state in women killed by their intimate partner with 34 women
(22%) in 2015. In 2015, Harris County had the highest percentage of calls to the
Domestic Violence Hotline.
Special laws in Texas are designed to provide quick and effective relief from
domestic violence. The most important thing a victim of this kind of abuse can do, is find
the courage to take action.
Don’t Become another Statistic
Some people I consult with feel as if they are not prepared handle dealing
with the legal system on top of the abuse they have suffered. Often when
people finally find the courage to step into my office they have been
putting up with abuse for years.
In some cases, the women I meet with have found the courage to leave but
do not take any other legal action until something traumatic happens.
In one case one of our clients moved away with her children into a new
apartment. She told me “I was afraid I did not on to court. I just
wanted it to be over with” Her husband’s response was to track
her down and hit her again. That was the last straw that brought her to
If Your Spouse is Violent, Take Immediate Action
Should your spouse become violent you should take whatever steps are necessary
to protect yourself and your children including:
- Leave the house
- Take your children
- Call the police
Only after you are safe is it time to focus on legal issues.
File Criminal Charges if Warranted
Texas law should be on your side. If you were attacked, there are several
crimes your abuser may be charged with:
- Rape and Sexual Offense
- Domestic Criminal Trespass
- Communicating Threats
- Stalking or Harassing Phone Calls
It is a good idea to contact the police as soon as possible.
Talk to a Lawyer When you are Safe
When you are safe, contact a family law attorney in your area. They can
give you advice on what your next steps should be. Some the things that
I discuss are the steps necessary to get a:
I explain what a protective order would mean for the woman and her husband
and how a protective order would affect the divorce. If my consult is
interested in obtaining a protective order I will usually encourage her
to go through a government agency because they will handle it for free
and then once the paperwork is filed to come back and we will help with
Below is information on government office that can help obtain protective orders:
1201 Franklin, 2nd floor,
Houston, TX 77002
207 West Phillips Street
Fort Bend County
1422 Eugene Heimann Cir
Richmond, TX 77469
600 59TH Street
Galveston, TX 77551
111 E Locust,
Angleton, TX 77515
1923 Sam Houston St
Liberty, TX 77575
846 6th St
Hempstead, TX 77445
104 Washington Ave
Anahuac, TX 77514
Here are some things you can bring with you, if they are available:
- Your picture I.D.
- Pictures of any injuries.
- Names and contact information for any witnesses.
- Address for the Respondent for a protective order.
- Any evidence that you may think is important for us to know.
- Medical records of injuries you received from assaults.
There is More than One Type of Protective Order
There is more than one type of protective order. The different types of
protective order include :
- Magistrate’s Order of Emergency Protection
- Protective Orders Available in Civil Court
A Magistrate’s Order of Emergency Protection (MEPO) is the only type
of protective order that is not obtained through a civil, district, or
county court. It allows for immediate, temporary protection for a victim of:
- family violence,
- stalking, or
- sexual assault
A justice of the peace or municipal judge may issue a Magistrates Order
at an arraignment after a
family violence, stalking, or sexual assault arrest on the magistrate’s own motion
or on the request of:
- the victim of the offense;
- the guardian of the victim;
- a peace office; or
- the attorney representing the state
Magistrates Order may remain in effect for:
- 31 to 91 days following the date of issuance, based upon the magistrate’s
- 61 to 91 days following the date of issuance if a deadly weapon was used
of exhibited during the commission of an assault.
A MEPO may prohibit an offender from:
family violence or assault against the person protected in the MEPO;
- communication directly with the protected person or through a third-party
in a threatening or harassing manner;
- going to or near the protected person’s residence or place of employment
- going to or near a protected child’s residence, child care facility,
or school; and
- possessing a firearm.
- Additionally, a magistrate may order a defendant to participate in a global
positioning monitoring system (GPS monitoring) and may allow the protected
person to also participate in the system.
Civil Court Protective Orders Use them to Your Advantage
In many cases, it is possible to get a civil court protective order without
the typical notice requirements, so you can:
- keep possession of the house and car, and
- temporary custody of your children
- the order may also provide that your spouse must stay away from you and
- If your spouse violates such an order, he or she will be arrested.
A victim may obtain a civil protective order within a short period of time
and at no cost. The follow are types of civil protective orders that are
- Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order and
- Family Violence Protective Order
- Sexual Assault/Stalking/Trafficking Protective Orders
Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order
Many victims who apply for a civil protective order do not have a Magistrates
Order, and therefore do not have any type of protection.
When they file their application for a civil protective order they can
request a Temporary Ex Parte Protective order so that they have immediate
protection prior to the hearing on her protective order.
Family Violence Protective Order
A victim of family violence may apply for a
family violence protective order (FVPO) as long as the victim has a current or former familial relationship
with their Ex, such as:
- a current or former spouse,
- dating partner,
- child (including step-children and foster children), or
- household member
Dating violence victims of any age may apply for a Family Violence Protective
Order and any adult may apply for a FVPO in order to protect a child from
A prosecuting attorney or the Department of Family and Protective Services
may also file an application for the protection of an alleged victim of
Only two prongs must be proved for a court to issue a FVPO:
family violence has occurred in the past, and
- that family violence is likely to occur in the future.
A Family Violence Protective Order is good for two years after the date issued.
Sexual Assault/Stalking/Trafficking Protective Orders
A victim of:
- child sexual abuse,
- indecency with a child,
- sexual assault,
- human trafficking, or
may apply for a sexual assault/stalking/trafficking protective order (SAPO).
A parent or guardian acting on behalf of a person younger than 18 years
of age who is a victim of the above offenses or a prosecuting attorney
acting on behalf of the victim may also apply for a SAPO.
A court may issue a SAPO if there are reasonable grounds to believe that:
the applicant is the victim of sexual assault or abuse, stalking, or trafficking.
SAPO may remain effective for any duration up to the lifetime of the victim
or the offender.
If you want to know more about what you can do,
CLICK the button below to get your
“16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- The Complete Beginner's Guide to Texas Protective Orders
- 5 Things You Need to Know About Family Violence in Texas
- Common Law Marriage and Texas Divorce Guide
- I Want a Texas Divorce but My Husband Doesn't: What can I do?
- Am I Married? - Marital Status in Texas
- Can I sue my spouse's mistress in Texas?
- When is, Cheating Considered Adultery in a Texas Divorce?
- 6 things You Need to Know Before You File for Divorce in Texas
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children
and families. If you have questions regarding
divorce, it's important to speak with one of our
Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and
developing a strategy to meet those goals.
Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online
form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles
Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein,
The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including
Fort Bend County and