Protective orders in Texas

This blog was originally written by Julie Blackmon for the O’Neil Wysocki Family Law blog

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced a form of family violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime. See generally Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Preventing Intimate Partner Violence (Feb. 26,2019),

In Texas, victims of family violence who qualify for protective orders include current and former spouses; people who have or had a dating relationship; anyone involved through marriage or dating relationship or with a third party who has or has had a dating or marriage relationship; parents of the same child or foster child; members or former members of same household or dwelling. Tex. Fam. Code §§71.0021, 82.002.

Texas offers three types of protective orders to help the victims of family violence:

  1. Magistrate’s order of emergency protection;
  2. Temporary ex parte protective order; and
  3. Final protective order.

A Magistrate’s order of emergency protection is typically issued by the criminal court after the abuser is arrested and can last anywhere from 31 to 91 days, depending on the severity of the crime. Tex. Code. Crim. Proc. art. 17.292(j).  A temporary ex parte protective order and a final protective order are ones typically issued by family court and fall under the Texas Family Code. A victim can apply for one or both types of orders through the family court at the same time.

Even if a victim of family violence has a protective order through the criminal court, the victim should still try to obtain one through the family court as it will give the victim an opportunity to obtain a final protective order that could last for two years or more, depending on the severity of the family violence that occurred. Tex. Fam. Code §85.025(a-1) (1).

Temporary ex parte protective order.

A temporary ex parte protective order is available through family courts and protects the victim (or “applicant”) and the applicant’s family members. An applicant can obtain a temporary ex parte protective order without the presence of the alleged abuser in court, so long as the court believes the alleged abuser presents a clear and present danger of family violence to the applicant and/or the applicant’s family members. Tex. Fam. Code §83.001(a).

A temporary ex parte protective order is especially helpful in situations when the victim and the alleged abuser live together as it orders the alleged abuser to remove themselves from the residence shared with the applicant. Tex. Fam. Code §83.001(a)(1). The temporary ex parte protective order will automatically expire in twenty days, unless the court extends the order. Tex. Fam. Code §83.002(a).

Final protective order.

An applicant for a temporary ex parte protective order can simultaneously apply for a final protective order. An applicant is not required to apply for a temporary ex parte protective order before they can apply for a final protective order. A final protective order may be effective for up to two years. However, the court may issue an order longer than two years under limited circumstances.

Unlike the temporary ex parte protective order, the applicant for a final protective order doesn’t need to show a clear and present danger of family violence. The applicant only needs to show that family violence occurred and is likely to occur in the future. Tex. Fam. Code §81.001.