Within the legal community there’s a strong belief that family law cases are frequently more dangerous than criminal cases. The adage goes: in criminal cases, you have bad people on their best behavior. But in family law cases you have good people on their worst behavior. Your safety is always a concern in family law cases. How do the courts help protect the safety of people in family law cases? There are two ways the family courts help provide for your safety during legal proceedings,
Temporary Restraining Orders
The first way the courts help ensure your safety is with a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). A TRO is usually enough to keep people behaving in an acceptable way. Under Texas law, a TRO is designed to keep things as they were before the case was file. Most of the prohibitions in the standard TRO relate to property in divorce cases. But in divorces and suits affecting the parent-child relationship, there are provisions for safety as well.
The standard TRO is enforced by the family court that issued it. If a party violates the TRO, the remedy is to file to enforce the TRO. The result could be a finding of contempt for the violator. The important thing to remember is that violating the TRO does not equal arrest or jail. It means some judicial remedy weeks in the future.
When your safety is in immediate danger, a Protective Order (PO) is called for. Unlike a TRO, a PO is enforced by calling the police who will make an arrest. Violating a protective order is a crime.
Your safety is the basis for a PO. The family court will issue a PO if there has been family violence recently, and there’s a danger of more violence in the future. Stalking behavior can also be the basis of a PO. Either way, a crime has been committed by the bad actor, and the court issues the PO to help ensure your safety. The PO restricts where the bad actor can go, such as your work or school. The goal is to keep the abuser away from the victim.
Your Safety is Paramount
Because of the risk of danger in family law cases, the courts do what they can to protect your safety. Whether it be a Temporary Restraining Order or a Protective Order, you must remember that the Court’s Order is a piece of paper. Just this week, a woman was murdered in Kansas City, and investigators found a PO in her pocket! See here for more on this tragic story.
At Youngblood Law, PLLC, we take your safety seriously. We do an assessment of our clients’ facts to see what measures we can take to make sure everyone stays safe. But we have some recommendations for everyone going through a family law case:
- Remember: You have the right to defend yourself. If your safety is in danger, you have every right to defend yourself during a legal proceeding that you would always have. Self-defense in accordance with the law is justified during a case just as it is when no case is going.
- 911 is still available: Regardless of your legal matter, if you need to call 911 for an emergency, do not hesitate to do so. Get the police or other emergency services coming ASAP. Call your lawyer AFTER you call 911. Your lawyer will advise you on what to say to the police, but if you need the cops, call 911. Better safe than sorry.
- Consider: What steps do you need to ensure your safety? With or without a TRO or PO, could you move someplace safer? Should you consider getting and learning how to use a gun? Should you put your friends, family, and workplace on notice that you may be in danger and to keep an eye out for your crazy ex?
Youngblood Law, PLLC is a Fort Worth, Texas family law firm focusing on helping people get on with their new life by getting done with their old life. This essay is intended for educational use only and is not a replacement for competent legal counsel. If you are facing a family law matter, we recommend obtaining competent legal counsel like Youngblood Law, PLLC. For more information contact us at (817) 601-5345, find us on the web at youngblood-law.com.