In yesterday’s blog posts, we discussed at length the initial process for applying for a protective order. Now that we have gone through the basics of this stage of a family law case, I would like to talk with you about getting prepared to go to court. Understanding the process behind applying for a protective order is a critical period. However, it is just as essential to be able to understand the basics of going to court. It is such an unfamiliar environment for many people, but I think it bears mentioning the primary steps associated with going inside a courtroom and knowing how to act.
If he does not have an attorney to represent you in your court case, you should fill out your protective order before going to court. Having multiple copies of the order to bring with you is not a bad idea at all. Evidence like photographs, medical records, torn clothing, and even witnesses who personally viewed the harm you suffered is a great idea. All this information in documentation could be relevant if the judge asked to see something. Do not underestimate the importance of being prepared in circumstances like this. It is not as if you will have the opportunity to go back the following day and have another hearing. Instead, it is more likely that he would have to wait weeks or even months before you can come back for a second hearing.
Depending upon where you live relative to the courthouse you should be prepared to come early by at least 30 minutes. If you’ve not noticed, weird things have tended to happen during this era of COVID-19 so do not be surprised if you are asked to go to a different room or go through a different process than what you were believed to have been required to do penance into court. If you get to court early you should wait until the bailiff opens the doors to the courtroom. And at that point, the clerk or hearings coordinator of the court will be seated near the judge’s bench. You should approach these folks and tell them that you are here for your hearing.
Next, just as if you were learning how to do anything else you should watch how others conduct themselves in and out of the courtroom. These other people will show you how to conduct yourself in front of the judge. Talking to a judge is not much different than talking to your boss or any other person in a position of authority. Making eye contact, speaking slowly enough for the judge to understand you, and being loud enough for the court reporter to be able to take down what you are saying or all important pieces of advice. Above all else, you need to be honest with this judge when answering questions. For one, the judge is gauging your credibility. The second thing to note is when you are placed under oath you absolutely should tell the truth. Failing to do so could result in your suffering some very significant penalties.
Practice what you want to say before you say it
Contrary to what many people seem to believe, most of you reading this blog post will not be the most natural or gifted speakers in court. It is not as if Stepping inside of a courtroom turns you into a great public speaker. It is more likely that you will suffer from nervousness or feel uncomfortable rather than feel comfortable. With that said, it would be wise to think about what you want to say to the judge or how you would answer the questions of your attorney. If you are representing yourself then you should plan on making concise points to the judge. Telling the judge your life history and life story maybe make you feel good but in the long run, it will not give you much benefit. The judge is looking for specific information as it pertains to your application for A protective order.
If this is a hearing where you’re opposing party is present with an attorney then it is likely that the attorney will ask you questions. Telling the truth, speaking slowly, and giving complete answers is a great way to approach this subject. The print thing to note is that the answer is yes and no are both complete thoughts as they apply to hey hearing. Do not feel like you have to go into more detail than this. Especially when you are being cross-examined by the other attorney it can be better to keep your answers short and sweet.
One thing that I will make note of is that it is inappropriate for you to talk to the judge unless you were being asked a question. Your attorney is there to advocate on your behalf. Additionally, it is inappropriate for you to interrupt your opposing party, their attorney, or the judge. You should be careful to allow others to complete their thoughts or complete a question before answering. Speaking at the same time as another person is a good way to confuse the court reporter. You would not be able to receive a clear record of the hearing which may be important in the future in the event of an appeal.
What are the next steps after a hearing is completed?
The next step in the process that you need to concern yourself with is what happens after your hearing is done. The judge will decide whether or not he or she believes that do you need the protective order. If so, then the judge will sign your protective order and it would go into effect immediately. Your order would be sent over to the court clerk where you would be able to have him or her stamp each copy one for filing and one for your records.
Copies of the order should be sent to your child’s school, daycare center, babysitter in any other person needs to know what is going on with Your family. A key thing to make note of is how long the order will run until it expires. Temporary orders typically last for two weeks but can be extended for an additional two weeks. A full protective order can last for up to two years though it can go longer under certain circumstances. The opposing party can also attempt to have the order reduced in the amount of time that it lasts.
Please note that if all else fails you should Be prepared to contact 911 in the event of an emergency. A protective order is a great thing but it should not be confused with something that can stop a violent attack against you. A productive order does not also guarantee a particular result after the hearing. He will not be provided with security or police protection around the clock. Rather, you need to be able to rely upon your sense of safety, and law enforcement in the event of an emergency.
Building a safety plan to prevent harm from occurring to you
Both before and after a protective order hearing you need to have a plan in place which can assist you in helping you prepare for anything that occurs with yourself and abuse at the hands of another person. The most direct advice that I can provide you in this regard is to attempt to escape if someone tries to attack you. This may seem obvious but you should resist the temptation to attempt to fight back against their attacks. Just as if you were attacked by a stranger you should do your best to get help and leave the area as quickly as possible. Trying to defend your home is not worth the effort. You should be doing everything you can to keep yourself and your children safe during this time.
It doesn’t matter if you are in your home when the attack occurs. Do not stay to defend the house. Rather, leave the home and take your children with you. It does not matter if it is late at night or early in the morning. You should have someone in your life who is aware of your circumstances and willing to open their front door to you in the event of an emergency like this. If you do not have a person who can take you on short notice like this then you should speak with a local women shelter or violence prevention shelter. This is a much better plan than to hope that you can find someplace in the middle of the night to keep your family away from harm.
On a practical level, you should take photographs of any injuries that you suffered. Bruising, scrapes, and bleeding are all effective pieces of evidence against your abuser and can even be used by prosecutors if you intend to press charges. If you are in a public place you should attempt to draw attention to yourself by screaming and being as loud as possible. Not only will this draw people’s attention to yourself in hopes that passersby will assist you but it is less likely that a person will continue to attack you even though you are being without.
Above all else, do not position yourself near any kind of weaponry. This includes blunt or sharp objects as well as everyday household items that could be utilized as weapons if possible. The kitchen, bathrooms, or any place where actual weapons are nearby would be places to avoid. You can work with friends and family to help remove dangerous items from your house and also to develop a plan of escape in the event of an emergency. You are not stuck in your circumstances. However, it is difficult to escape from your circumstances if you do not have a plan in place.
Be prepared to leave
When we talk about preparing for an emergency or from a dangerous situation by this I mean that you need to be ready to leave wherever you are with the dangerous person. The safety plan that you come up with can be your lifeline- literally. The time to come up with a safety plan is before any dangerous circumstances coming up. Even if you have been harmed before it is not too late to come up with a plan. There are no guarantees that your abuser will show any type of restraint towards you. You should assume the worst and prepare like you will need to save your life and that of your children.
First, he should practice the escape from your home with your children. This does not mean waltzing out the front door in a stress-free environment. Rather, you should know what doors, elevators, stairs, windows are most conducive to you leaving very quickly. Older children can help by collecting belongings and leaving immediately. Younger children will need to be taken and have closed packed for them in advance. You should have and worked on it develop this plan over time. Just like your child may practice baseball, dance, or any other activity so two should this safety plan be practiced. You do not need to share the gory details of the plan or why you are practicing it with your children. However, they should understand what it means to follow instructions and be quick about it with you.
In an age of cell phones and numbers being stored on your phone, you should know some safety numbers by heart. Friends, family members, parents, work, your local sheriff or constable are a few good numbers for you to start with. Do not assume that you can look up the phone number on the Internet or that you’ll simply remember it by chance. Rather, do you should understand that in a stressful situation you need to be able to instinctively turn and provide this information.
As much as you may not want to do this it is also a very good idea for you to inform your neighbors of what is going on in your home. That way they can understand what they are seeing and hearing and be ready to call law enforcement if they see and hear something that seems out of the ordinary. nobody relishes having to tell their friends or neighbors about an abusive situation in your home. However, it is best to put aside your pride and two work towards sharing information like this. Doing so may be the difference between a significant injury for you or your family.
you should plan to have your children’s clothes, medications, and even food ready ahead of time. This way you will not be scrambling at the last minute to get anything ready for yourself. Odds are you will not be able to bring together things like this in stressful circumstances. Rather, you should have thought of these issues ahead of time rather than trying to bring everything together at the last minute. You are likely to forget things and that may put you in an uncomfortable circumstance down the line.
When it comes to your technology there are also steps that you can take and order 2 protect yourself and your family. One, you should get new email addresses for yourself. Your abuser has likely attempted to access your email. As such, getting a new password for your current email account or getting a new email address outright is probably a wise step to take. you should also consider changing your passwords to other Internet websites as well as the PIN to your debit card. While there are no guarantees when it comes to your online safety these are basic steps that you can take to prevent further harm to yourself and your family.
What to do when living on your own
Once you do move out of the same home as your abuser you should take steps to keep yourself safe wherever you are currently living. You can change locks on the home where you are living, add additional locks, and above all else not share information with your partner about where you are living. These are crucial steps for you to take to present yourself with a certain amount of protection. If you do need to see your partner in any setting you should consider doing so in a public place. This will protect you from potential harm 22 your abuser being less willing to engage physically in public.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case. Thank you for your interest in our law office, and we hope that you will return to our blog tomorrow as we continue to share relevant and interesting material
Bryan Fagan, a native of Atascocita, Texas, is a dedicated family law attorney inspired by John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief.” He is the first lawyer in his family, which includes two adopted brothers. Bryan’s commitment to family is personal and professional; he cared for his grandmother with Alzheimer’s while completing his degree and attended the South Texas College of Law at night.
Married with three children, Bryan’s personal experiences enrich his understanding of family dynamics, which is central to his legal practice. He specializes in family law, offering innovative and efficient legal services. A certified member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, Bryan is part of