When domestic violence harms you or your children, a protective order provides a layer of much-needed security. However, many of us may not fully understand the repercussions of a protective order. Below, we outline what a protective, or restraining order, can (and can’t) do to protect your children.
At Angela Faye Brown & Associates, our priority is protecting your kids. To learn more, contact us today.
What Is a Protective Order?
If you or your child are a victim of domestic violence, you might be entitled to a protective order. This civil court order prohibits the abuser from making contact with you and also sets limitations on their behavior. They might do the following:
- Stop further violence, harassment, or threats
- Establish temporary child custody and visitation schedules
- Order temporary child support payments for up to 12 months
- Prevent the abuser from making contact at a child’s school or child care facility
- Prevent the abuser from going to your home or workplace
- Require the abuser to attend counseling and therapy
- Restrict the abuser’s access to firearms
To get a protective order, you must file a petition or application with the court and prove that there is evidence of domestic violence. The court will typically schedule a hearing within 14 days of your application.
However, you’ll have to have significant evidence of family violence. This might include police reports, photographs of you or your child’s physical injuries or property damage, and witness testimony. For more information about obtaining a protective order, contact our office.
What Happens If Someone Violates a Protective Order?
Many people don’t understand the repercussions of a protective order. Some think that it’s an all-powerful document that ensures your safety. Others think it’s worthless. The truth is somewhere in the middle: a protective order offers significant, but not total protection, for domestic violence victims.
If your abuser violates your protective order, call 911 immediately. Law enforcement should promptly arrive at the scene. And if the police witness your abuser violating the protective order, law enforcement will arrest them. Violating a protective order is a criminal offense that, under certain circumstances, is a felony in Texas. Depending on the nature of their violation, your abuser might face up to two years in jail and a $4,000 fine.
However, there are limits to this enforcement power. The police will only arrest the abuser if they are violating the contact-related portions of your protective order. If they fail to pay child support or skip a counseling session, this won’t result in their automatic arrest. However, your lawyer should notify the court — and your abuser might be jailed for contempt of court.
How Will a Protective Order Impact Child Custody?
Clinical studies show that trauma deeply impacts children’s emotional growth and development. While a protective order won’t take away their pain, it can make your children feel safer after they experience domestic violence. When you petition the court for a protective order, you can ask for a temporary child custody arrangement.
If there is a pattern of abuse — or one very serious event — the judge might give you primary custody of your child for a period of time. The abusive parent might receive visitation rights under certain circumstances, but also might lose the right to contact their child. Under Texas law, a parent who has a documented history of domestic violence within the past two years cannot have physical custody of their child.
The abuser’s visitation rights will depend on both your unique circumstances and the strength of your lawyers’ arguments. The judge must weigh all of the evidence and consider the best interests of the child. Unless there is significant evidence that contact with the abusive parent will seriously harm your child, they will typically get supervised visitation rights. This means that they would be able to spend time with their child, but a designated person (such as a social worker) would monitor their time together.
Schedule an Appointment to Learn More About the Repercussions of a Protective Order
At Angela Faye Brown & Associates, our family law practice focuses on putting kids first. We are committed to the families that we represent and tirelessly advocate for the safety and best interests of children and their loving, committed parents. If you or your child are domestic violence victims, contact us today. We help our clients create comprehensive child custody arrangements that aim to protect children as well as foster their long-term emotional and physical health.