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What Is the Difference Between a Protective Order and a Restraining Order?

While it’s an inaccurate assumption, many people believe that a protective order and a restraining order are the same things. This is due to some of the similarities between the two court orders — particularly since they dictate what parties can and cannot do. However, it’s important to note that there are significant differences between protective orders and restraining orders in Texas. Understanding these differences may prove vital in your situation.

Are Texas Protective Orders and Restraining Orders the Same?

When a Texas court issues a protective or restraining order, either may dictate that one party does not try to contact the other. However, a major distinction exists since one type of order applies to criminal cases while the other is issued during civil proceedings. A Texas protective order is generally only issued in instances of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and violent threats.

Conversely, a Texas restraining order is issued in lawsuits to dictate what the parties may or may not do. Like a protective order, a restraining order can prevent parties from contacting one another. This can also happen when there’s a fear of violence. However, restraining orders can involve non-violent issues as well — such as preventing parties from withdrawing shared funds.

What Types of Protective Orders Are There?

One of the main differences between protective orders and restraining orders in Texas is that there are several types of the former. With a restraining order, the court typically dictates what is allowed as the legal proceedings play out. Such orders are typically filed alongside other court documents. However, protective orders come in many variations. These include:

  • Temporary ex part e protective order: If abuse has occurred and the victim is at risk of further abuse, a judge may sign a temporary protective order. This can only last up to three weeks and provides sufficient time for a permanent protective order hearing.
  • Permanent protective order: Once a hearing is held, a protective order that lasts up to two years may be issued. There are some extreme instances where a lifetime protective order may be issued.
  • Order of emergency protection: Temporary and permanent protective orders do not require an arrest prior to issuance. However, an emergency protective order is generally issued after a person is arrested for abuse. These can last for up to 91 days.

This makes it clear how important it is to understand the difference between protective orders and restraining orders in Texas. The former is clearly more serious since it involves abuse. This is also why the penalties for violating a protective order are more severe than for violation of a restraining order. If you have questions regarding either of these court orders, our law firm is ready to help.

How Can Protective and Restraining Orders Affect Your Case?

Whether you’re going through a divorce, child custody hearings, or any other family law issue, both protective and restraining orders could affect your case. For instance, a judge may see the need for a protective order as evidence that abuse has occurred. This can result in a negative outcome for the target of the order.

Unfortunately, this is sometimes used as a legal tactic by dishonest parties to gain the upper hand in a case. This means judges often have to be careful with how they view such orders. The biggest effect these can have on your case — regardless of the differences between protective orders and restraining orders — occurs if you violate such an order.

No matter the situation you’ve found yourself in, our family law legal firm may be able to help.

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