Protective orders are issued by a court in order to protect people from acts of family violence. Such orders typically require someone to stay away from another person as well as that person’s family, home and workplace.

On this page, we discuss the important things you need to know about protective orders, including: who qualifies for a protective order, what protective orders can and cannot do, the different types of protective orders, and the process for obtaining a protective order.

Who Qualifies for a Protective Order

You can ask for a protective order against someone if that person has committed family violence against you in the past and is likely to commit family violence against you again in the future. What constitutes family violence?

The term “family violence” is defined as: (i) violence by a member of the family or household against another member of the family or household, (ii) abuse by a member of the family or household against a child of the family or household, or (iii) dating violence against a member of a dating relationship or a third party.

Members of a “family” include individuals related by blood or marriage (including in-laws), former spouses, people who share a biological child together, and foster relations. The individuals do not necessarily have to reside in the same household to be members of the same family.

Members of a “household” include people living together in the same dwelling, regardless of whether they are related. A person who previously lived in the household is also considered a member of the household.

The “abuse” mentioned in the definition of family violence can take many forms, including: actual violence, inappropriate sexual conduct, drug use that harms children, and using a child for obscene performances or recordings.

“Dating violence” is an act, other than in self-defense, that is intended to harm or threaten another person who is or was in a dating relationship with the offender. A “dating relationship” is defined as a current or former relationship between individuals of a romantic or intimate nature.

Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order

There are two kinds of protective orders: a temporary ex parte protective order and a final protective order. The temporary ex parte protective order allows you to get a protective order immediately, in case of emergency, without having to give notice to the person from whom you are seeking protection.

With this kind of order, you are asking a judge to take the extraordinary step of issuing an order without following the normal procedure. Therefore, you have to attach an affidavit to your petition that explains in detail why you need such an emergency order.

The application must state that there is a clear and present danger that family violence will occur in the future and that it will cause the applicant immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage, for which there is no adequate remedy at law.

If you are asking that the respondent be removed from your home (a “kick-out” order), your affidavit must explain that he lives in the home, has committed family violence within the last 30 days, and there is a clear and present danger that he is likely to commit further family violence.

You can ask for a number of things in such an order, such as:

  • prohibiting the respondent (the person you are seeking protection from) from committing family violence
  • prohibiting the respondent from communicating with you or member’s of your family or household
  • prohibiting the respondent from going to or near your home or workplace
  • prohibiting the respondent from going near you or any member of your family or household
  • prohibiting the respondent from going to or near the school or child-care facility of a child protected by the order
  • prohibiting the respondent from engaging in any threatening or harassing behavior
  • prohibiting the respondent from possessing a firearm

You can also ask for an emergency order granting you sole possession of children that you share with the respondent.

Since this is an emergency order, it is only good for 20 days, though it can be extended for an additional 20 days. The order will set a date for a final hearing, at which the respondent will have notice and an opportunity to defend himself.

Final Protective Order

A final protective order can be issued if family violence has occurred and is likely to occur in the future. A final protective order can also be issued if the respondent violated a previous protective order.

The final protective order can include much of the same restrictions as the temporary ex parte order described above, including against going near you, going to your home or workplace, going to a child’s school or daycare, communicating with you, threatening or harassing you, and owning a gun.

A final protective order generally lasts two years. A court can render a protective order for more than two years if the court finds that the respondent committed an act of felony family violence, caused serious bodily injury to yourself or a member of your family or household, or has violated multiple protective orders in the past.

If you are experiencing domestic violence right now, there are resources in the community that can help you. There is a good list at this website. If you are afraid to be in your house and need a domestic shelter in San Antonio, a list of options can be found here.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Contact our San Antonio Protective Order Attorneys Today

If you have been the victim of domestic violence, you may want to consider getting a protective order for the safety or yourself and your family. If someone is trying to get a protective order against you, you may want an attorney to defend yourself because these orders can have important effects on your life. The knowledgeable attorneys at Salmon Haas Law have a lot of experience in protective order cases. Contact our office today for a free consultation.

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