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Legal Information: Texas

Restraining Orders

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November 5, 2020

Can I get my out-of-state protective order enforced in Texas? What are the requirements?

Yes.  Your protective order can be enforced in Texas as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.1
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.  It doesn’t matter if s/he actually showed up in court; just that s/he had the opportunity to do so.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled within a “reasonable time” after the order is issued.2

All terms of a valid out-of-state protective order are enforceable in Texas, even if your order contains relief not available in a Texas order.

Although some states have laws regarding registering an out-of-state protective order, Texas does not require you to register your protective order for it to be enforced.3  Your protective order can be enforced in Texas by a police officer even if it is not registered in the NCIC – it can be enforced if the officer has a reason to believe that a valid protective order exists and has been violated (even if you do not have a certified copy of your order.)4  To find out more about NCIC, see What is the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Registry? Who has access to it?

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)(A)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a), (b)
3 Tex. Fam. Code § 88.004(e)
4 Tex. Fam. Code § 88.004(a)-(c)

What happens if the protective order was never served on the abuser and now the abuser violates the order?

If you report a violation in Texas of an out-of-state protective order that was never served on the abuser, the officer is not necessarily required to arrest the abuser for the violation. The officer has to inform the abuser of the order and make a reasonable effort to serve the order on him/her. Then the officer has to allow the abuser a reasonable opportunity to follow what the order says before enforcing it.1 Therefore, s/he might not be arrested for the first violation that you report since s/he had not been served with the order at the time s/he “violated” it. However, the officer can still arrest the abuser for any other crime committed at the time.

1 Tex. Fam. Code § 88.004(d)

Can I have my out-of-state protective order changed, extended, or canceled in Texas?

No.  Only the state that issued your protective order can change, extend, or cancel the order.  You cannot have this done by a court in Texas.

To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued.  You may be able to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where the abuser is living.  To find out more information about how to modify a restraining order, see the Restraining Orders page for the state where your order was issued.

If your order expires while you are living in Texas, you may be able to get a new one issued in Texas but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred.  To find out more information on how to get a protective order in Texas, visit our TX Family Violence Protective Orders page.

I was granted temporary custody with my protective order. Will I still have temporary custody of my children in Texas?

Yes.  As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,1 Texas can enforce a temporary custody order that is a part of a protection order.2

To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets this legal standard, contact a lawyer in your area.  To find a lawyer in your area, select the state you are in from on the Finding a Lawyer page.

1 The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and is consistent with the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980.
2 Tex. Fam. Code § 88.003(b)