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Applying for a protective order

Domestic violence is a problem in Texas that often goes unreported. According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, nearly one million women were battered in 2006 alone. However, during the same year, the Texas Department of Public Safety only received 186,868 incident reports about domestic violence.

Victims of domestic violence may have the option of applying for a protective order against their abuser. A protective order is a way to prevent further family violence from occurring by setting clear limits for an abuser. A judge might order the abuser to vacate a residence and stay a certain distance away from the victim and the victim's children. The abuser may also have firearms taken away and be ordered to attend counseling.

Although a protective order is only a piece of paper, it can be very effective in discouraging continued domestic violence. Once a protective order is in place, an abuser will know that any violation of the order could result in their arrest. Local law enforcement agencies in the victim's area will be informed about the details of the protective order so that they will be ready to make an arrest if it is violated. Further, a 2007 amendment to the Texas Constitution made it possible to hold any person accused of violating a protective order in custody without bail.

When a victim of domestic violence wishes to apply for a protective order, the court may issue a temporary protective order that lasts for up to 20 days. A hearing will then be scheduled to determine whether there is justification for a final protective order that could be effective for as long as two years. An attorney who has experience in handling family legal issues can help a domestic violence victim to secure a final protective order and to apply for extensions if needed.

Source: State Bar of Texas, "Ending the violence: How to obtain a Texas protective order ", accessed on March 16, 2015

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