Know the Laws: Texas
UPDATED July 20, 2016
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.
In Texas, there are three types of orders of protection based on family violence:
The first two orders are issued by the civil court upon your application. The abuser does not have to be arrested for you to get one of these orders. The third order is issued by the criminal court after the abuser is arrested for family violence. Each order is explained in more detail in the following questions.
A temporary ex parte order is a court order designed to provide you and your family members with immediate protection from the abuser. You can get a temporary ex parte order without the abuser present in court. To get a temporary ex parte order, the judge has to believe that the abuser presents a clear and present danger of family violence to you or a family member. The judge will make this decision based upon the information you include in your application for a protective order.*
A temporary ex parte order lasts for the period of time stated in the order, usually up to 20 days. The temporary ex parte order can be extended for additional 20-day periods if you request it or if the judge decides to extend it, usually due to the fact that the respondent was not yet served.**
* Tex. Fam. Code § 83.001
** Tex. Fam. Code § 83.002
A permanent protective order is effective for the time period stated in the order, which generally may be up to a maximum of 2 years. If there is no time period written on the order, then it expires on the second anniversary of the date the order was issued.* However, the may judge to issue an order for longer than two years if:
After the order has been in effect for 1 year, the abuser can petition the court to ask that the order be discontinued. The judge will hold a hearing to determine whether there is a continuing need for the order. If the judge believes there is no need to continue the order, the judge can end the order earlier than the original date set. Evidence that the abuser did not violate the order does not by itself support a decision that the order is not needed anymore.***
Note: If the abuser is in jail or prison when the order is set to expire or if s/he was released from jail/prison within the one year before the order’s expiration date, the order will automatically be extended. If the abuser was sentenced to more than 5 years of incarceration, the order will expire on the first anniversary of the date s/he is released from imprisonment. If the abuser was sentenced to 5 years or less of incarceration, the order will expire on the second anniversary of the date s/he is released from imprisonment.**** You can request a new order from the court showing the extended expiration date to make it easier to enforce in case of a violation.
Go to How can a protective order help me? to read specific information about what protections can be included in a permanent protective order.
* Tex. Fam. Code § 85.025(a)
** Tex. Fam. Code § 85.025(a-1)
*** Tex. Fam. Code § 85.025(b)
**** Tex. Fam. Code § 85.025(c)
A magistrate's order for emergency protection (what most people call an emergency protective order) is issued by the criminal court after the abuser is arrested for committing family violence, sexual assault, sexual abuse, or stalking.*
A magistrate's order for emergency protection is usually good for between 31-61 days. However, if the abuser was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, the order would be good for between 61 - 91 days.** The court can issue this order upon your request, or upon the request of your guardian, a police officer, the state attorney/prosecutor, or based on the judge’s own decision. If the crime involved serious physical injury or use of a deadly weapon, the judge is supposed to issue this order even if no one requests it.***
Note: The rest of the information on our site about protective orders (such as who is eligible, what the steps are for getting one, etc.) refers to temporary and permanent protective orders; not this magistrate's order.
* Texas C.C.P Art. 17.292(a)
** Texas C.C.P Art. 17.292(j)
*** Texas C.C.P Art. 17.292(a)&(b)