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Legal Information: Texas

Restraining Orders

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November 5, 2020

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

Dating violence is when an abuser commits an act that is:

  • intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury (physical pain, illness, or damage to your physical condition)1, assault or sexual assault; or
  • a threat that reasonably places you in fear of immediate physical harm, bodily injury (physical pain, illness, or damage to your physical condition),1 assault or sexual assault.2

The act must be committed against:

  • someone with whom s/he has or had a “dating relationship;” or
  • the new spouse or intimate partner of someone the abuser is/was married to or in a “dating relationship” with.2

A dating relationship is defined as a relationship between people who have or had a continuing romantic or intimate relationship. To determine if a dating relationship exists, the judge will consider:

  1. the length of the relationship;
  2. the nature of the relationship; and
  3. the frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.2

If you meet the definition of dating violence, as explained above, continue reading this section for more information about applying for a family violence protective order.3

Note: If you commit violence to protect yourself or your children and the court believes you acted in self-defense, then this is not dating violence.2

1 Tex. Penal Code § 1.07(a)(8)
2 Tex. Fam. Code § 71.0021
3 Tex. Fam. Code § 71.004(3)