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  • Writer's pictureRobert Tsai

Important Changes to Protective Orders in Texas Family Law Cases 2023

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In the realm of Texas family law, significant revisions have been introduced to the regulations governing the issuance of protective orders for family violence. These modifications hold particular significance for individuals ensnared in divorce or child custody disputes where violence or abuse by one of the spouses or parents is an issue.

Understanding the Scope of Protective Orders

Title 4 of the Texas Family Code empowers victims of family violence with the means to request and secure protective orders. These court-ordered measures restrict abusers from coming within a certain number of feet of their victims, contacting them, remaining in the same place as them, and an array of additional remedies designed to safeguard the vulnerable.

Noteworthy Alterations

As of September 1, 2023, the criteria for obtaining a family violence protective order changed in a pivotal way. In the preceding framework, the applicant had to prove (1) that family violence has occurred and (2) that it is likely to occur again. This standard diverged from the prerequisites for securing protective orders related to stalking, sexual assault, or human trafficking. In these instances, applicants were solely obligated to demonstrate the existence of reasonable grounds to support their victimhood without the added burden of forecasting future recurrences.

Determining the risk of prospective violence endowed judges with substantial discretionary powers when granting or denying protective order petitions. Consequently, disparate interpretations flourished in judicial forums, leading to inconsistencies in the issuance of family violence protective orders. This divergence gave rise to formidable obstacles for those pursuing such protective measures. To counter this ambiguity and align the standards for family violence protective orders with those affecting victims in parallel circumstances, Texas removed the second criterion. The legislative body recognized the inefficacy of peering into a crystal ball to anticipate future behavior, thereby eliminating this speculative aspect.

Implications of the Revisions

The upshot of this modification is that a solitary incident of past family violence, proven before a Texas court, will compel the court to issue of a family violence protective order. This alteration places family violence protective orders among the most formidable and sweeping civil remedies within the Texas legal system. Legal precedence underscores the substantial consequences, societal stigmatization, and distinct gravity attached to these necessary legal instruments, setting them apart from other civil remedies.

Guidance and Support

If you’re involved in a divorce or child custody dispute in Texas that involves allegations of family violence, you need experienced legal representation. Houston Family Law Attorney Robert Tsai can help you understand protective orders and fight to protect you and your family. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Gaining insights into these alterations is pivotal to securing a stronger position within the legal landscape.

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