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Protective Order vs Restraining Order: Why the Difference Matters

When your safety and future are on the line, you need access to effective legal solutions. If facing difficulty with a spouse or ex-spouse, you may need different forms of protection to help you feel safe.

In such situations, you might wonder whether the best legal option is to pursue a protective order vs. restraining order. The key to this answer is understanding important differences between the two paths.

Find out more about why terminology matters in Texas to help you arrive at the best possible protection in your situation.

Why Protective Orders and Restraining Orders Are Important

Every day, our family law attorneys represent clients who fear for their safety, the safety of others, and their personal property and assets. We listen closely to their concerns and work diligently to find the most optimal solutions for their safety.

Often, legal solutions may seem abstract in real moments of danger. That’s why we make ourselves available to help you through draining legal situations that require various forms of protection.

When thinking through protective orders and restraining orders, remember that both are binding legal orders for certain parties to stop engaging in certain actions for the benefit of someone else or their property. Knowing which option fits your situation is the first step to obtaining the ideal protection.

Protective Order vs Restraining Order: What’s the Difference?

Most people know about restraining orders and protective orders due to their use in movies and TV. It is also common to interchange these terms. But what many may not realize is that they are two separate legal solutions in Texas that belong to different contexts. 

Restraining Orders

Restraining orders prevent an individual from causing harm to others or their property. They are issued by a civil court judge and will typically detail the acts that a certain person may not commit. Such prohibited behaviors may include contacting you or removing money from a bank account.

Temporary restraining orders are also used to manage contacts between parties in civil cases. Divorce courts often use them to restrict certain activities – such as draining a bank account – while the divorce is ongoing.

Protective Orders

Protective orders, by contrast, are usually used in cases of family violence and domestic abuse. Their main purpose is to protect one party and their loved ones from another. They do this by ordering the threatening person to remain a certain distance from the other party.

The three types of protective orders in Texas are:

  • Emergency 
  • Temporary 
  • Permanent

Emergency protective orders (also known as magistrate’s orders of emergency protection) are issued by judges. However, they may only be ordered after an arrest. They must also state the actions a person may not commit, such as approaching someone or possessing firearms.

Your situation may differ and call for a temporary protective order that sets you on the path to a permanent protective order against an abuser. No matter the situation, we will review the specific details of your case and help you seek the appropriate protection.

For example, we may determine that you and other family members are in immediate danger, so we may pursue an ex-parte temporary protective order. This type of protection lasts 20 days and can be extended to a more permanent form of protection.

If a permanent protective order is granted, this order typically lasts two years and may be renewed at a future time.

Violating Protective Orders and Restraining Orders

When a court order is violated, the victim can take immediate legal action against the offender. For example, individuals who are found to be violating a restraining order may face contempt of court charges – or even criminal charges.

For those who continue to violate a protective order’s provisions, felony charges may be on the table. They may also face additional restrictions. Also, continued disobedience with either form of protection can negatively impact a party’s child custody rights and other family law rights.

Speak With a Family Law Attorney Today About Your Situation

It’s important to know the difference between a protective order vs. restraining order in Texas when you’re seeking safety from others. At Parker & Aguilar, we review every detail of your story with you to determine which is the most appropriate for your case.

Let’s work together to ensure your safety and personal protection. Our team of professional family law attorneys is ready to defend your rights and protect your interests.

We currently support clients in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Matagorda County. If you live in one of these counties, contact our offices immediately ​​to discuss your situation.

You can reach us at 979-267-7660 (Angleton office) or 281-944-5485 (Sugar Land office) to speak with a local attorney who is ready to help you obtain the right form of protection.