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How to prepare for a Temporary Protective Order Hearing

What does it mean to have a temporary protective order hearing?

To obtain a protective order, you will need to go before a judge and present evidence showing why there is a substantial risk of harm that could occur to you if an order is not granted. This requires that you provide notice to the person that you are seeking the protective order against so that he or she may appear at the hearing and present evidence showing why a protective order should not be granted. At the end of the day, all of this requires time. 

However, when you find yourself in a situation where you are concerned about your safety time is not necessary on your side. You want something to happen sooner rather than later which provides you with peace of mind when it comes to your well-being. This is where a temporary protective order hearing comes into play. By reading the remainder of today's blog post with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan you will learn about protective orders and how to prepare for a temporary hearing on protective orders.

Why are they called temporary orders?

The reality is that family law cases can take a while to complete. With that in mind, temporary orders give you some structure during your case. Both you and your opposing party will need to abide by the terms of the temporary orders or risk being punished by a judge. If you are seeking temporary orders during a divorce or child custody case then the orders can relate to the custody of your kids, possession or use of property, the payment of household bills during a divorce as well as issues related to protective orders and conduct of you and your opposing party. 

Either you or your opposing party can file a motion with the judge and ask him or her to issue temporary orders. A motion for temporary protective orders would be filed if you believe protective orders are needed. If approved by the judge either in full or in part, the temporary protective orders would last until a final order is signed by the judge. A protective order usually lasts for two years the length can vary based on the decision of a judge and the circumstances of your case. 

How detailed are temporary orders? Should I work with an attorney during this phase of my case?

If you are in a position where you feel that your safety is at risk, then hiring an attorney is a good idea. Bear in mind that the court can only consider your protective order request if you file your motion, obtain a hearing date, and successfully pay the court costs and other expenses. These are all steps that you will need to manage while stressed out from the case itself. In addition, the rest of your life’s responsibilities do not go away just because you are trying to get a protective order. Your job, your kids, and any other responsibilities that you have on your plate will still be there for you. 

Hiring an attorney does not mean that you are giving the lawyer all of your decision-making abilities. An attorney provides information, and guidance and will advocate on your behalf. However, he or she will not take the case and then make decisions for you or force you to sit in the backseat, so to speak. Rather, a good attorney will work with you to ensure that you have enough information to make competent decisions for yourself. This is especially important when you may not be thinking straight. 

Since simply getting a case filed can be challenging if you are unfamiliar with the process, an attorney can help you in this area as well. A temporary orders hearing may not sound like it, but it can be the most important part of your case. Since all cases are different you cannot necessarily rely upon the advice or perspective of a friend or family member who has gone through a family case from years ago. That doesn't mean disregarding everything he or she says. What it does mean is that you can benefit from speaking with a lawyer about your case and how the law may impact you and your family. 

What can go into a temporary protective order?

What many people do not realize is that there can be orders related to a child custody or divorce case that are included in a temporary protective order. When it comes to your children you may choose to have orders included which relate to conservatorship issues, visitation of your kids, child support as well as details about the maintenance of health insurance during the child custody or divorce case. These are important issues that you can also have addressed in a temporary order hearing on a protective order. 

The same applies to divorce cases where there are no children under the age of 18 that are at issue. A protective order will necessarily keep you and your spouse away from each other physically. He or she will not be able to contact you by phone, email, or text message. As a result, you need a plan on how to structure your lives during the divorce. Here is how a temporary protective order hearing can help you in that phase of your life. 

You and your spouse may have disagreements on how to use a certain property. I am thinking about your home, your vehicles, and any other property that may be relevant in your lives. In a temporary order hearing, you can put this issue to a judge and present evidence on your preferred use of the property during a divorce. If you need money to help you pay for attorney's fees, then you can request this in your application for a protective order. Temporary spousal support is also important if you do not work and need income during the divorce while you work to find employment. These are the type of issues that can be covered in a temporary order hearing on a protective order. 

Is a temporary restraining order something relevant to my situation?

The difficult part about asking for a protective order is that the courts never move as quickly as you want or need them to. Obviously when you feel like your safety is at risk, seconds matter. Unfortunately, the court can’t set your temporary orders hearing in seconds. It takes much longer, relatively speaking. As a result, there are stop-gap measures that are put in place during many cases to provide even more temporary help to folks in your shoes. It is a helpless feeling to believe that your spouse or significant other is going to do something harmful to you before your hearing. 

In your motion for a protective order, you can ask the judge to issue what is known as a temporary restraining order or TRO. This is an emergency court order which should give you some idea of its importance of it. Within the temporary restraining order, you can ask the judge to issue orders that prevent your spouse or opposing party from taking a specific kind of action until you can both get in front of him or her in a hearing. That action may relate to some aspects of your lives including coming to your work, entering your home, going to the school of your children, and things of this nature. 

A temporary restraining order will not last for all that long but will last until you can get before a judge for your temporary orders hearing. Depending upon the length of time between filing your case and getting a date for your hearing the temporary restraining order can last for fourteen days. For the judge to consider your request for a temporary restraining order you will need to file an affidavit with your motion. An affidavit is a sworn statement under oath. What you say in your affidavit will help the judge determine whether you can have a temporary restraining order granted as a part of your case. You will need to be truthful, obviously, in your affidavit as well as provide a sufficient description of the circumstances that require a temporary restraining order to be granted. 

Bear in mind that a judge will only grant a temporary restraining order in an emergency. Emergencies typically mean that your life and well-being are critically at stake at this very moment. That means that the church and the court acknowledge that something dangerous might occur to you in the days between granting the temporary restraining order and having a hearing held for temporary orders. For this reason, a judge may decide to issue a temporary restraining order until you can prepare adequately for your temporary protective order hearing.

What happens if someone is seeking a protective order against me?

On the other hand, you may be in a position where your spouse or significant other is seeking a protective order against you. For instance, you could have been leaving work or walking up to your home to find a process server or constable waiting for you with paperwork showing that a hearing has been set up by your spouse or significant other. While this may catch you by surprise you should not disregard the information presented to you or set it to the side for another day. Rather, you should look through the paperwork carefully and circle or highlight things that you may not necessarily understand. Much of the language used in this paperwork will not be clear to a person that does not deal with family law issues every day. 

Next, it would be wise for you to speak to an inexperienced family law attorney immediately. This is especially true if a temporary restraining order has been issued against you by the judge. A temporary restraining order prevents you from doing certain things otherwise might find be extremely commonplace. As a result, you do not want to run a couple of orders. At the same time, you must get to work and do other things that our responsibilities of yours. By speaking with an experienced family law attorney, you can learn what is permitted by the order and what is not. That way you can live your life as well as possible while you wait for the temporary protective orders hearing. 

Whether you retain an attorney for your temporary orders hearing or not, you should go to the hearing at the date and time listed on the notice. Simply put, if you do not go to the hearing then your spouse or significant other can submit any requests here she wants to the judge and likely have those requests granted. These are orders that can profoundly impact your life, your relationship with your children, and your money. It is much better to have a say so in that hearing rather than to ignore it and not attend. This is true whether you agree with what is included in the motion for a protective order or whether you disagree with all of it.

If you have been served with a temporary restraining order then you need to look through the temporary restraining order carefully and understand that no matter if you disagree with portions of it, you still need to follow the instructions included in the order. A judge has signed their name to that order which carries with it significant penalties for violation. You can be held in contempt of court if you do not obey the order. That means you can be fined or even jailed for violations of the order. Your violations of this order can also be used as evidence against you in a temporary protective order hearing. 

What can you expect at the temporary orders hearing?

Although it is called the hearing, a temporary protective order hearing amounts to a mini-trial. In this setting, a judge will take testimony from you, your opposing party, and any witnesses who have something relevant to add to the hearing. Documentary evidence and other types of evidence will be submitted to a judge to take into consideration in addition to any of your testimony. Objections will be heard on the evidence that is attempted to be submitted and the judge will make rulings. Once all evidence has been offered and admitted into the record the judge will make a consideration and issue a ruling on the request for a protective order.

We say that a temporary protective order hearing is like a mini-trial in that evidence is submitted just like in a trial but the time limit to do so will be limited. If you do not have an attorney, you should check with the clerk for your judge to determine how long you will have to be able to present a case in your hearing. For some judges and some counties, the time could be as little as 20 to 30 minutes. So, if you plan on presenting five or six witnesses you probably need to scale that back to take into consideration the time limitations that you will be presented with.

What happens if the temporary orders hearing does not go your way? 

If you are approaching this subject as someone who has been served with a temporary restraining order and you should know that even if the judge grants the temporary protective order, you can modify that order in the future. Did you so you would need to file a motion to modify temporary orders. As with any modification case in Texas family law, you would need to be able to show that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred for you or your opposing party since the time that the temporary orders were issued. In many cases, this can be difficult to show, and it would be more practical for you simply to set the case for a final hearing or a trial.

Final thoughts on preparing for a temporary protective order hearing

Other than the information provided to you so far in today's blog post I think it is relevant to note that preparing for court means knowing how to show up on time and ready to go into the courtroom. Going into court is not like going to the office or going to your place of work period there are different rules and different ways to act. On top of that, you are probably not overly familiar or comfortable in the courtroom. As a result, there will be a learning curve of sorts for you to take into consideration as you prepare for the hearing. From my experience, you can do this most efficiently by hiring a family law attorney who has experience in helping people just like you prepare for temporary protective orders hearings. 

Questions about the material contains 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 consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case

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