San Antonio Domestic Violence and Restraining Order Attorneys
Providing legal help with family violence and protective orders in South Texas
Sometimes, disputes around family law matters like divorce can unfortunately involve domestic violence. Whether this family violence is a result of the marital separation or the cause, these types of disputes can quickly become dangerous for the victimized spouse and their children. If you and your children are under the threat of violence in your home, you have options to protect yourself.
After contacting law enforcement, call the San Antonio family law attorneys at Grable Grimshaw PLLC. We can walk you through next steps, including securing restraining and protective orders for your family. Our lawyers understand you need physical safety as well as peace of mind, and we are prepared to assist with both. This page provides more information about family violence in South Texas, as well as your rights and protections under the law.
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How does Texas define domestic and family violence?
The state of Texas discusses family violence under Family Code Title 4. Although the court refers to it as “family violence,” you do not need to be related to your assaulter, so you may see the terms “family” and “domestic” used interchangeably.
The courts define family violence as:
An act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself.
Under Texas code, family or dating violence can occur in the following types of relationships:
- Current and former spouses
- Children (both biological and adopted)
- Children of current and former spouses
- Relatives (both blood and adopted)
- Foster families
- Current or former dating partners
If you or a loved one are experiencing domestic violence, there are certain legal protections available, including restraining orders and protective orders. Although many people use these terms to mean the same thing, the orders each work differently. It is important to understand the differences and similarities.
What is a protective order?
Often, people ask to file a restraining order when what they actually require is a protection order. Protective orders, also found under Texas Family Code, provide protection from your abuser, from both physical and emotional abuse. A protective order prevents them from coming near you, your children, and other family members listed in the document. This can include restricting them from approaching your home, your workplace, your child’s school, or any other place a judge rules appropriate. If an offender violates a protective order, they can be arrested, fined, and jailed.
Further, protective orders come in three types:
- Temporary protective orders, which is an order typically active for 14 to 20 days and does not require a hearing if the court determines you or your child are in immediate danger. A temporary order can require an offender to vacate your shared home. However, the offender can challenge the order in court upon expiration.
- Emergency protective orders, which are criminally enforceable and issued after an individual is arrested on a family violence offense. These can last from 31 to 90 days, depending on the order.
- Standard protective orders, which require a hearing (although you may receive a temporary or emergency order in the meantime) and can last up to two years. Victims may request an extension in certain circumstances.
The Texas court system provides further information on protective orders, or feel free to contact our San Antonio attorneys for help.
What is a restraining order?
Restraining orders are a little different. These are court orders that prevent a person from taking certain actions, like destroying certain items in your home, emptying bank accounts, or taking a shared vehicle. Courts often issue restraining orders in acrimonious divorces to prevent one spouse from taking resources, necessities, or valuables away from the other.
What are the main differences between protective and restraining orders?
To summarize, the key differences between these two types of orders here in South Texas are as follows:
- If your spouse, partner, family member, or anyone is causing you and your children physical, verbal, or emotional harm, you should file for a protective order.
- Violation of a protective order can result in the offender’s arrest, as well as time in jail. They may also be required to give up any firearms in their possession.
- If you need to prevent your spouse or family member from taking any sort of action that may harm your property, for example, file for a restraining order.
The San Antonio attorneys at Grable Grimshaw PLLC can stand by you and help you file any paperwork and documents you need – we are here to advocate for your family.
Does Child Protective Services have the right to visit my home?
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS) is responsible for the safety and welfare of children throughout the state. In some cases of family violence, TDFPS may believe the child’s environment warrants a home visit to ensure their safety. Although the well-being of a child is always paramount, there are situations where Child Protective Services (CPS) may overstep their bounds, necessitating the services of a qualified and experienced lawyer.
Child Protective Services may remove children from their homes to protect them from abuse and neglect (per Texas Family Code), and only with a court order. CPS can remove children in emergency situations, which generally include the following:
- When there is an immediate and present threat of physical or sexual abuse
- When leaving the child or children in the home is not best for their welfare or safety
- When CPS has exhausted all reasonable efforts to prevent the child’s removal
Any emergency removal, however, is subject to a court hearing on the next business day. You have the right to a family law attorney throughout this process.
If CPS cannot prove that your child was lawfully removed from your home, the court will order the return of your child to your custody. In cases where your child was removed via a court order, you will receive notice of a hearing within 14 days. Our San Antonio attorneys can represent you in this hearing and help you get your family back together when CPS wrongly removes your child. We can advocate for you both in court and help you effectively communicate with your caseworker.
Remember, you do not have to let a CPS investigator into your home without a court order. You should also keep in mind that anyone can make a CPS report, and you may have no idea what they are looking for, which is why you should not voluntarily invite an investigator in. Typically, they just want to ensure your child is in a safe environment. However, our attorneys can provide valuable guidance with these types of investigations.
Legal help with San Antonio domestic violence and protective orders
If you need a protective or restraining order during your divorce proceedings, the family law attorneys at Grable Grimshaw PLLC are here to help. Do not waste any time when it comes to protecting the safety of yourself and your children. We can help file the correct documents and paperwork on your behalf, and represent you at necessary hearings. To schedule an appointment at our San Antonio offices, call 210-963-5297 or fill out our contact form. We’re proud to serve clients throughout South Texas.