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Know the Laws: Texas

UPDATED July 20, 2016

Family Violence Protective Orders

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A protective order is a civil order that provides protection from harm by someone you have a specific relationship with. The order can also place other restrictions on the abuser, such as ordering him/her to stay away from you or stop contacting you.

Who can get a protective order

back to topWho is eligible for a protective order?

You can apply for a protective order on behalf of yourself and/or your child if you meet one of the following:

  • The abuser is “a family or household member,” which is defined as:
    • A current or former spouse;
    • A blood relative such as a parent, sibling, child;
    • A relative by marriage (an in-law);
    • A person with whom you have a child in common;
    • A household member (such as a current / former roommate);
    • A foster parent; or
    • A foster child; 
  • The abuser is someone with whom you have/had a “dating relationship;" or
  • The abuser is/was married to or is/was dating someone you are/were married to or are/were in a dating relationship with (for example, the abuser is your girlfriend's ex-husband).*  

In addition, a prosecutor/district attorney or the Department of Family and Protective Services can file an application on behalf of any person alleged to be a victim of family violence.**

You may also be able to get a protective order against someone who has sexually assaulted you even if s/he is not a family or household member (like a co-worker or neighbor).  See Protective Orders for Victims of Sexual Assault or Abuse, Stalking, or Trafficking for more information.

* Tex. Fam. Code § 71.0021, 71.003, 71.005, 71.006
** Tex. Fam. Code § 82.002(d)

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back to topCan a minor file for a protective order?

An adult household member or any adult can file for a protective order to protect a minor from family violence.*  However, if the minor is in a dating relationship and is applying for the order based on "dating violence," s/he can file for the protective order on his/her own.**  Note: A minor is a person under the age of 18.*** 

* Tex. Fam. Code § 82.002(a)
** Tex. Fam. Code § 82.002(b)(1)
*** Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 129.001

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back to topCan I get a protective order against a same-sex partner?

In Texas, you may apply for a protective order against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Who is eligible for a protective order?  You must also be the victim of an act of family violence, which is explained here What is the legal definition of "family violence" in Texas?

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back to topHow much does it cost to get a protective order?

Nothing, a protective order is free.  You cannot be charged a fee for filing, serving, entering a protective order, or for getting additional certified copies of the order.*

The court may order that the abuser pay any attorney fees (if applicable), and all other fees, charges, or expenses incurred in connection with the protective order.**

A domestic violence organization may be able to refer you to free legal services.  Please go to the TX Finding a Lawyer page for information about free or low cost legal services.

* Tex. Fam. Code § 81.002
** Tex. Fam. Code §§ 81.003, 81.005

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