frequently asked questions

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Q. Do I have to be married to the person I want an order against?

A. No. You also meet the relationship requirement if you and the abuser are divorced, lived together, or had a child together or if you and the abuser are related by blood or marriage.

Q. Do I have to go to court to get a protective order?

A. Yes. The person against whom you want an order must receive notice that you want a protective order and be given the chance to appear in court and object to the order.

Q. Can I get a protective order because of mental abuse?

A. No. You must show that family violence -- physical abuse or threats of physical abuse -- has occurred and is likely to occur again. Mental and emotional abuse are not part of the definition of family violence in the Texas Family Code.

Q. How much will this cost me?

A. Our office will not charge you. By law, the District Clerk's Office cannot charge a protective order applicant any filing fees, and the constable cannot charge the applicant for service of the papers

Q. How long does it take to get a protective order?

A. Usually it takes at least two weeks to get a protective order that the police can enforce.

Q. What’s the difference between a protective order and a restraining order?

A. Both types of orders can direct a person to stay away from your home and place of employment. However, only a protective order is criminally enforceable, meaning that the abuser can be arrested and charged with a criminal offense for violating the order. The police cannot arrest someone for violating a restraining order; you must go back to the judge who issued the restraining order to enforce it.