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Will You Need a Protective Order as Part of Your Divorce?

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), intimate partner violence is widespread in Texas. Victims are often afraid for their physical safety, especially if they have made the decision to end their marriage. Helpfully, anyone suffering from domestic violence might seek a protective order as part of their divorce. The League City family law attorneys at Tad Nelson & Associates can explain more in a consultation at our office.

How Common is Domestic Violence in Texas?

The NCADV put out a fact sheet which shows the following statistics:

  • About 40% of women and 35% of men in Texas experience intimate partner violence at some point, which includes sexual assault and stalking.
  • The Texas Health and Human Services Commission estimates that more than 280,000 emergency calls are received each year for domestic violence.
  • In 2019, 150 women in Texas were killed by male partners, and 31 men were killed by a female partner. Same-sex partner violence also occurred.
  • Firearms are commonly used: 63% of women and 68% of men were killed by a gun.

These numbers show that domestic violence is serious and can escalate into horrifying violence.

Protective Orders in Texas

We can help clients seek a protective order. This is a type of court order that requires a person to stop threatening, stalking, abusing, or terrorizing a person. If the person subject to the order ignores it, they can be arrested and face criminal charges.

You might seek a protective order if you have suffered any of the following from your spouse or intimate partner:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Stalking
  • Human trafficking

You can helpfully seek a protective order against anyone in your house who commits these acts, but this article focuses primarily on divorce.

How Protective Orders Work

A protective order will restrain your spouse from doing certain things, such as:

Communicating with you in any way, such as by phone, text message, email, social media, or in person;

  • Threatening you or hurting you;
  • Coming near your home or place of work;
  • Removing a child from your home;
  • Removing a pet from the home;
  • Disposing of any business assets; and/or
  • Possessing a firearm.

These are important protections. For example, the statistics mentioned above show that guns are regularly used in homicides involving spouses. Preventing your spouse from possessing a firearm provides real protections. The protective order can also keep your spouse from contacting you or your children.

  • The protective order might also require that your spouse do certain things:
  • Undergo regular drug testing
  • Attend anger management class
  • Complete substance abuse programs
  • Pay child support
  • Pay spousal support
  • Pay restitution, such as for damaging property
  • Leave your home

Protective Orders & Divorce

You can obtain a protective order as part of a divorce if your spouse has threatened or used violence against you. You can seek a protective order even if you are currently living together, since a judge can order your spouse to leave the family home.

We might seek a temporary order on an emergency basis, which does not require a hearing. This is called an “ex parte” order, and it stays in effect until the hearing date for a permanent protective order.

Your spouse has an opportunity to present his or her side of events. That’s why a hearing is required before the court can enter a permanent order. An attorney can find helpful evidence to prove you were threatened or faced violence. For example, we might use police reports, medical records, or witness statements.

Compliance with a protective order is mandatory. If your spouse violates any of the conditions, you can call the police and have them arrested. Violation of a protective order is a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense, resulting in up to a year in jail and a maximum $4,000 fine.

In some situations, violation of a protective order could even qualify as a third-degree felony. That would mean 2-10 years in prison and a fine. As an example, your spouse could face felony charges for repeatedly violating the protective order.

Contact Our Galveston Family Law Attorney

Tad Nelson & Associates is a law firm committed to helping men and women through divorce. Sometimes, a protective order is necessary to protect yourself and/or your children from a violent partner. We always consider whether to seek this type of protection, and we can handle the paperwork for you and attend a hearing.

Call our law firm today. We can also discuss how a protective order will impact other aspects of your divorce, such as mediation.