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How long does a protective order last in Texas?

If you are concerned with your safety or that of your children, then you may be interested in obtaining a protective order. The purpose of a protective order is to prevent another person from coming onto your property, coming onto the property of your child's school, contacting you by phone, or otherwise harassing you. Generally speaking, a protective order is intended to provide you with some degree of assurance that you will be safe in your day-to-day activities and can lead your life how you need to.

One of the most frequently asked questions regarding protective orders in Texas is how long they last. The situation that you find yourself in in the type of protective order that you can get will answer this question. Since there are multiple types of protective orders in Texas which each have varying lengths and conditions attached to them you need to understand the significance of each type of protective order. The bottom line, however, is that a protective order should keep you and your loved ones from being physically harmed. Let's walk through the different types of protective orders that you may obtain in Texas so that you can better understand what is available to you.

What are some of the ways that a protective order can help you?

You may have a general understanding of what a protective order can do but may not know many details about them. That’s ok! You should, however, take some time to learn about them when the opportunity presents itself. That way you can be set to decide about pursuing one if the situation presents itself. We can walk through why a protective order may be able to help you identify why a protective order may be limited in terms of how it can assist you. 

Importantly, a protective order would prevent your spouse from being able to have a gun on their person or even have a license to carry a gun. Additionally, threats against you or your family are barred by a protective order. Coming to your child's school or your place of work would be off-limits to your spouse. Your spouse could be arrested for having violated any portion of the protective order. 

Temporary protective orders

The first type of protective order that we are going to discuss in today's blog post is a temporary protective order. These types of protective orders last for up to 20 days and will seek to keep you safe until you can appear before a judge for a hearing. Typically, a temporary protective order would go into place once you file for divorce or seek a child custody case of some sort. You can ask for a protective order within your petition for divorce or in your suit affecting the parent-child relationship. The judge could decide whether to grant your request for a protective order. Typically, a judge would need to believe that there is an immediate threat to your family in that the protective order could serve some purpose in keeping you all safe for the time being.

The key thing to understand about a temporary protective order is that typically your spouse or person that you seek protection from will not need to be present for one of these orders to be granted. These are known as ex parte hearings because only one party is a present period for that reason, these types of protective orders are also known as ex parte protective orders. You and your attorney could go into the courtroom without your spouse present and explain the circumstances of your case to a judge. From there, the judge would be able to decide about your temporary protective order based on circumstances and evidence presented in the hearing as well as your testimony.

Final protective orders

Once you have a temporary protective order in place you would then need to have a hearing held to obtain a final protective order. In this hearing, your spouse would need to be notified of the date, time, and location of the hearing so that he or she may be present and available to present evidence of their own as to why the final protective order should not be granted. This hearing allows your spouse to present their side of the story when they were not able to do so in the temporary protective order hearing.

It is the family court judge who will decide if you get the protective order that you have asked for. For the most part, a protective order will last for two years. However, there are circumstances in which protective order can last for a longer period depending upon the circumstances of your case. This is what would happen in a situation that involves domestic violence. If you have been the victim of abuse at the hands of your spouse, then seeking a protective order that lasts longer than two years can be made available to you.

Magistrate's order of emergency protection

A magistrate's order of emergency protection can be obtained if your spouse or Co-parent is arrested based on having committed certain criminal offenses. for instance, crimes such as sexual assault, trafficking, and sexual abuse can prompt a judge to issue an emergency magistrate order. Even if your spouse is going through the legal process and otherwise away from home under protective orders and shores you will be safe during this time. You can never be too safe will your well-being or that of your family. A magistrate's order of emergency protection does not guarantee your safety, but it puts you in a position where there is something formal protecting you rather than merely hoping that you can keep yourself and your family safe during this time.  These types of protective orders can last up to two months. 

What happens if your spouse violates a protective order?

There are penalties associated with your spouse violating a protective order. One year’s worth of jail time is available to the judge as far as a punishment that can be handed down. Fines and other penalties may also come along with the violation of a protective order. If your spouse is violating the protective order you should collect as much evidence of the violation(s) as possible. You can contact your attorney about the violations and should contact the police if you believe that your safety is in danger. 

Is it necessary for me to go to court?

Likely you will have to go to court to obtain a protective order. Even in the case of obtaining a temporary ex parte protective order, you must go to court eventually to have your temporary protective order turned into a permanent protective order. The time between the two hearings is roughly two weeks. As we have seen you must submit evidence into the record for the judge to consider making your temporary orders a permanent protective order. Your spouse may even be ordered to leave your home right away. This needs to be requested in your petition for a protective order. 

How will your spouse find out about the protective order?

At least initially, you will not need to contact your spouse to let him or her know that there is going to be an ex-parte hearing on your obtaining a protective order. This hearing allows you to submit evidence, or for your attorney to do so, to obtain the protective order temporarily. Service of your notice of hearing on the matter of the protective order must be provided to your spouse before the permanent protective order. 

A process server or constable will pick up the paperwork from the courthouse and then serve your spouse or Co-parent. Service means that a citation will be included with the notice of hearing as well as a petition for protective orders. That citation will detail the date time and location in terms of where your spouse was served. The citation will be returned to the courthouse as evidence of proper service. Please note that if you provide notice to your spouse by giving him or her these documents then that does not count as a fulfillment of the service and notice obligations. 

An important point to make is regarding the documentation included with the notice of hearing and application for a protective order. Along with the petition in any other documents will be the affidavit that you used in support of your petition for a protective order. The judge would have had to have reviewed this document to consider whether to grant you a hearing for the protective order request.

What this means is that if you are worried about your spouse learning about your application then you can put your fears to rest because your spouse will need to find out about the hearing to attend. If there is any deficiency with the notice, then the judge will review that and determine a new hearing date so that service can be re attempted. If a judge grants your request for a protective order and then your spouse comes back and alleges it as deficiency in the notice, then the order will be null and void and you will lose your protective order. 

For this reason, you need to work with an experienced family law attorney before proceeding with your case. She's like getting a mistake noticing your Co-parent about the hearing can be a setback for you. The last thing you want to do is have the evidence sufficient to have your petition for a protective order granted only to find out that there was an issue with noticing your Co-parent. Do not let this happen to you. Rather, working with an attorney who is experienced in family law can not only save you time and money but save you a ton of stress and heartache. Not to mention that time is of the essence when you and your family desperately need protection from another person.

How to get ready for protective orders hearing

One of the most stressful aspects of a family law case for many people is the thought of having to attend a court hearing. Even if you have been inside of a courtroom before the experience of being there for a protective order hearing is probably a much different experience than the one that you had previously. As a result, you may be concerned with how to act in court and how to go about effectively presenting your evidence and arguments to a judge. Fortunately, we can discuss what it means to go through a protective order hearing as well as how you can best ensure success in this situation.

When it comes to attending court, your best bet is to get there early. Many times, clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will find out the best route to get to the courthouse on the day before the hearing and try out a drive if possible. This way you can anticipate where bad spots and traffic will be and how to avoid them, if possible. The last thing you want is to jump in the car on the morning of your hearing only to find that you don't know where to go.

If you are a resident of Harris County, then you need to be prepared for the enormity of our courthouse. The Harris County courthouse is a city unto itself. do not be intimidated by its size. It is not as if everyone there is going to be listening in on your case. Rather, most of the people there our civil servants, attorneys, and people just like you. Remember that everyone is there for the same reason, and I think he will be more comfortable with the large nature of the building. Your case is just as important as anyone else's.

If you are represented by an attorney, then you will sit in the gallery while your attorney likely sits closer to the judge’s bench with the other lawyers. If you are not represented by an attorney, then you will need to respond when your case is called. It is wise for you to think about what you are going to say before you say it in court. Showing respect and deference to the judge is a good idea. I understand that you will likely be intimidated or scared to an extent but by planning out what you were going to say ahead of time you can better anticipate any problems that may arise.

Even if you are represented by an attorney you need to be prepared to speak for yourself. You will be placed under oath at the beginning of your hearing, and you need to testify for yourself. It is true that your attorney will be able to present arguments and can assist you by asking questions in the hearing, he or she cannot testify on your behalf. Only what you say in court can be found to be evidence. If you can tell the truth, speak clearly, and give complete answers then you will be well-positioned in this hearing. There is nothing wrong with telling the judge that you do not understand his or her questions. The judge or attorney will re-ask the question differently.

What happens after the protective order hearing is over?

Most of the time in a protective order hearing if the judge agrees that you need the protective order then he or she will sign the order right then and there. Well, it may not be available to you immediately you and your attorney should check the Internet and get a copy of the order as quickly as possible. You should always have a copy of the order just in case your spouse tries to violate something within the order. Additionally, I would recommend that you make copies of the order available to your child take care, babysitter school, and two anyone else that cares for your child. You can go to the police if the order is violated by your spouse.

The goal of a temporary protective orders or protective orders hearing is to have your order approved by the judge. However, there are many steps to walk through before this hearing. As a result, it pays to have an attorney who can provide you with advice in real-world information about protecting yourself and your interest during this difficult time.

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 presented in today's blog post, you can reach out and contact one of the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week. 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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