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Restraining Orders (Domestic Violence Deterrence)

If you are in the process of going through a divorce, filing for a temporary restraining order (or “TRO”) can be a quick and cost-effective way to obtain legal protection from an abusive spouse. The Texas family law courts routinely grant temporary restraining orders to protect spouses and children, and the purpose of a TRO is to deter domestic violence (and other forms of improper conduct) while a divorce is pending.

When Can a Divorcing Spouse File for a Temporary Restraining Order?

A temporary restraining order is a type of court order that judges issue in connection with ongoing court proceedings. In the family law context, this most often means a divorce. If you are concerned for you or your children’s safety during your divorce, you can apply for a restraining order at any stage during the process, and your restraining order will typically remain in effect until your divorce becomes final. If you or your children need a court order for ongoing protection after your divorce, you can separately file for a protective order, also known as a domestic violence injunction.

In a divorce, the purpose of a restraining order is usually to maintain the status quo. As a result, when legal action appears necessary, judges will issue TROs in order to deter domestic violence even if intervention is not necessary to stop ongoing abusive conduct. In addition to deterring domestic violence, divorcing spouses can also obtain restraining orders to prevent actions such as:

  • Draining joint bank accounts
  • Incurring new joint debts
  • Taking or destroying your mail
  • Using obscene or threatening language
  • Talking badly about you in front of your children

Violating a divorce-related restraining order is punishable as contempt of court. Depending upon the nature of the violation and its affect on you, your children or your divorce, the judge may assess a fine, issue a ruling favorable to you in your divorce, or order your spouse to jail. However, violating a restraining order is not a criminal offense; so, while you can (and should) call the police if necessary, your spouse cannot be arrested solely for a restraining order violation.

Restraining Order vs. Protective Order

For spouses who have been victimized or who are concerned about potential domestic violence, it is important to understand the difference between a restraining order and a protective order under Texas law. While the Texas family law courts can only issue restraining orders in connection with ongoing proceedings, you can file for a protective order at any time. When necessary, judges will issue protective orders on an emergency basis, and spouses (or former spouses) who violate protective orders can face severe criminal penalties.

Speak With a McKinney Family Law Attorney at Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC

If you would like more information about filing for a restraining order in Texas, we encourage you to contact our McKinney family law attorney for a free and confidential consultation. You can reach us by phone at (214) 726-1450 or contact us online. One of our attorneys will be happy to meet with you personally, and we will help you make informed decisions about securing the protection you and your children deserve.


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