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How Long Does a Protective Order Last?

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Texas takes situations of domestic violence very seriously, which is why lawmakers implemented a process through which a victim can petition for an order of protection to guard against future abuse and misconduct.

The petitioner (or movant) must file certain pleadings and comply with court procedural rules to obtain such an injunction initially, and there are some follow-up requirements. If granted, these orders are a type of private law that applies to the individual accused of violence, i.e., the respondent. He or she may be prohibited from:

  • Communicating with the victim personally or via other channels;
  • Being in close proximity to the victim’s home, work, and/or school; 
  • Engaging in certain other actions with respect to the petitioner; and
  • Owning or possessing firearms

There can be serious consequences if the respondent violates an order of protection, including the possibility of criminal punishment. Based upon how the process works, petitioners and respondents often have the same question: How long does a protective order last? Regardless of which side you occupy, it is critical to retain a Texas protective orders attorney for assistance. Still, it may be helpful to understand the two factors that affect the duration.

The Type of Protective Order Under Texas Law

Sometimes called an order of protection or injunction, a protective order is issued by a court to protect a victim from future acts of domestic violence or threats of harm. The Texas Family Code provides for three different types of protective orders that a victim can seek in court.

  1. Temporary Ex Parte Order of Protection: A petitioner can file a motion for an order of protection without going through the hearing process, but only when he or she can prove that there is a clear and present danger of violence. This proof is typically through the victim’s sworn statement alleging a serious safety threat. Because there is no hearing and the respondent does not get a notice about the proceedings, a temporary ex parte protective order can only last a maximum of 20 days. The purpose of an Ex Parte Order of Protection is to safeguard the victim until a full hearing can be held.
  2. Magistrate’s Emergency Protective Order: If domestic violence arises out of an arrest for assault or other crimes, the court issues this type of injunction without an additional hearing. The magistrate’s emergency order of protection may last for 31 to 61 days until a permanent or longer-term order can be issued after a hearing.
  3. Final Protective Order: When both parties are present in court and have the opportunity to present their side of the case, a court will consider a final protective order. The petitioner must prove that the respondent engaged in acts of violence and is likely to do so again in the future. A final order of protection can last up to two years. A petition may have grounds to file a motion to extend a protective order but it is not automatically granted. 

How Your Actions Impact the Duration of a Texas Protective Order

Though the Texas Family Code spells out the process for obtaining any of the three types of protective orders, you must be diligent in pursuing your remedies if you are the victim of domestic violence.

Likewise, it is critical to developing a solid defense strategy when you are the respondent accused of domestic violence. Your attorney will handle the details and essential legal tasks, but you should understand how your actions might affect how long the order lasts.

  • As an Accuser: The power to obtain a domestic violence injunction is in your hands. It is important to give your attorney important evidence and to be truthful and honest in preparing your sworn statement. Your efforts support your lawyer’s work in getting the temporary ex parte order for a full 20 days, and you must be diligent in participating in the following stages for requesting a final protective order for up to two years.
  • As the Accused: Your actions may affect how long a protective order lasts because you have the power to mount a solid defense strategy. Even though you did not receive notice of a temporary ex parte order, you will have the opportunity to present your own evidence and testimony when a full hearing is held regarding a final order of protection.

Discuss Legal Options with a Texas Protective Orders Lawyer

Whether you need to petition for or defend a domestic violence order of protection, retaining experienced legal counsel is essential. Our team at The Ramos Law Group, PLLC is prepared to advocate on your behalf, so please contact our offices in Houston, TX to set up a consultation. We can advise you on the proceedings after reviewing the specifics of your case.