Legal Information: Texas

Restraining Orders

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Updated: 
July 20, 2016

What is the legal definition of "family violence" in Texas?

This section defines family violence for the purposes of getting a protective order.  Family violence is defined as:


  1. any act committed by one family or household member against another family/household member that is:
    • intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury (physical pain, illness, or damage to your physical condition),* assault or sexual assault; or
    • a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of immediate physical harm, bodily injury (physical pain, illness, or damage to your physical condition),* assault or sexual assault.**
  2. any of the following acts committed by a family or household member against a child of the family or household member:
    • physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child (or that has a real risk of resulting in substantial harm)
    • sexual conduct harmful to a child's mental, emotional, or physical welfare (including acts that come under the offense of continuous sexual abuse of young childindecency with a child, sexual assault, or aggravated sexual assault)
    • forcing or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct, trafficking (under sections (a)(7) or (8) of the law), prostitution (under section (b) of the law), or compelling prostitution (under section (a)(2) of the law);
    • causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing pornographic or obscene photographing, filming, or depicting of the child;
    • use of a controlled substance (drug) that the use results in physical, mental, or emotional injury to a child;
    • causing, encouraging, or expressly (specifically) permitting a child to use a controlled substance (drug);
    • causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing sexual performance by a child;*** or
  3. dating violence.**** Please read What is the legal definition of “dating violence” in Texas? for more information.

Note: If you commit violence to protect yourself or your children and the court believes you acted in self defense, then this is not family violence.**


* Tex. Penal Code § 1.07(a)(8)

** Tex. Fam. Code § 71.004(1)

*** Tex. Fam. Code §§ 71.004(2); 261.001(1)(C), (E), (G)-(K)

**** Tex. Fam. Code § 71.004(3)