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Temporary Orders, Protective Orders, and Restraining Orders In Texas Divorces

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One of the most difficult parts of going through a divorce can be making it through the period of time that it takes to finalize your divorce after filing. The fastest a divorce can be finalized in Texas is 60 days after filing, and if you and your spouse do not agree on the terms of your divorce agreement, it can take significantly longer. During this period, items that come as a result of your divorce such as child support, child custody, or property division rulings must be managed between the divorcing couple. If both parties cannot agree on how to handle the situation before finalizing their divorce, or if the situation becomes unsafe for either party, the law can help resolve the issues for the couple. Standing Orders, Temporary Orders, Restraining Orders, and Protective Orders are all legal tools that can be used to control an unmanageable situation.

Standing Orders

When you file for divorce, the petition will include a Standing Order. The exact items that Standing Orders are meant to protect will vary depending on which county you are filing for divorce in. These orders are meant to provide basic rules that both parties have to follow while working on finalizing the divorce. They normally include items such as what is and is not allowed concerning children. An example would be that most Standing Orders will prevent either parent from moving a child from one school to another, and from taking a child out of the state. Standing Orders also normally include provisions to prevent either party from harassing the other party, damaging marital property, and spending money frivolously. Some even include provisions regarding pets. You can find your counties specific Standing Orders with a quick internet search that includes your divorcing county name and “Standing Orders”. For some divorces, the Standing Orders are all that are required to protect both parties, and the items below would not need to be applied.

Temporary Orders

In the event that a Standing Order is not sufficient for the specific situation, or if the Standing Orders are not being followed, either party can file a request for Temporary Orders. The parties can agree on Temporary Order or they will go before a judge to settle the disagreements until the divorce can be finalized. There is no guarantee on what the outcome will be regarding your request for Temporary Orders. A judge may or may not rule in favor of the person requesting the orders. These orders are usually meant to address disputes regarding child custody, child support, health insurance, the use of property such as a car or house, and spousal support. Temporary Orders will be overridden by your divorce decree once your divorce is finalized.

Restraining and Protective Orders

While Standing Orders and Temporary Orders may help settle disagreements, they normally do not provide rigid protection for someone who may be at risk for physical or emotional abuse. There are two tools typically used to prevent one party or the other from becoming a victim of domestic violence or extreme verbal abuse post divorce filing.

The first is a Temporary Restraining Order. These orders can be filed at the same time as the initial divorce filing, and would typically apply until the divorce is finalized. In most counties, the restrained spouse would be notified of the Temporary Restraining Order at the same time or very close to the same time that they are served divorce papers. In order to file for a Restraining Order, there normally needs to be some sort of proof that the requesting party or their children will be at risk for abuse after the divorce filing. Good examples would be a history of domestic violence, a criminal history of a violent nature, or evidence of recent threats or physical abuse. When the divorce is finalized, a more permanent restraining order could be included in the filing, if there is still a risk to either party.

The second protection from abuse is a Protective Order. While a restraining order does provide some protection, a Protective Order can do more for individuals that are at extreme risk for domestic violence. If a Restraining Order is violated, it can certainly impact the way that a judge rules when finalizing a divorce, and the offender could be charged in civil court for violating the order. The key differentiator between the two is that if a Protective Order is violated, it becomes a criminal offense which could result in fines and/or jail time if violated. While they serve a similar purpose, the Protective Order has more power to prevent abuse, but they are more difficult to obtain. In most cases, in order to be awarded a Protective Order, a judge will need to see recent evidence that physical and/or sexual abuse has taken place and will likely occur in the future. If you are questioning whether a Temporary Restraining Order or a Protective Order is required for your case, it would be highly beneficial to consult with an attorney before filing for divorce.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-799-7233. If your spouse is abusive to you or your children, seek help through this number, local law enforcement, and an attorney.

For some divorces, Standing Orders will be all that is required, and no extra steps will need to be taken for those to apply. They will be part of your divorce filing process. If you suspect that Temporary Orders, Restraining Orders, or Protective Orders may apply, it would be wise to consult with an attorney before notifying your spouse of your intention to divorce.

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