Step 5: The hearing for a permanent protective order
It is very important that you attend the court hearing. If you find out you absolutely cannot attend, you can contact the court clerk immediately and ask how you can get a “continuance” for a later court date.1 If you do not show up, the judge may dismiss your case and you will lose your protective order. You do not need an attorney at the hearing; however, having an attorney can be to your advantage. Also, if you think the respondent will have one or if it would make you feel safer, you can consider getting one. If the prosecutor files the protective order on your behalf, s/he will usually represent you in court. If the prosecutor is not filing on your behalf, you may be able to get free legal representation through a legal services program. Go to our TX Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals. Also, your local family violence program can give you more information about what to expect at the hearing, and may be able to send an advocate with you for support, and provide an attorney referral. Go to our TX Advocates and Shelters page for organizations in your area.
For the judge to grant a permanent protective order, the judge has to believe that it is more likely than not (more than 50% chance) that the abuser:
- committed family violence against you (see What is the legal definition of family violence?); and
- will likely commit another act of family violence again in the future.2
If the abuser does not show up for the hearing, the judge can still grant you a protective order or the judge may order a new hearing date.3
See the At the Hearing page for ways you can show the judge that you were abused.
1 See Tex. Fam. Code § 84.001
2 Tex. Fam. Code § 85.001(a)
3 See Tex. Fam. Code § 82.041(b)