What Is This All About?
You and your child’s mother haven’t been getting along lately and just can’t agree on how often you should see your kid.
Out of nowhere, the Sheriff is at your door serving you with a Temporary Restraining Order. Can you call her? Can you see your kid? Can she do this to you? Is this like TV?
This Isn’t Like TV!
On TV, you always hear someone talking about getting a Temporary Restraining Order to keep their abusive spouse away. They talk about having to stay a certain number of feet away at all times, and they talk about calling the police because the other person has violated the restraining order.
Well that isn’t how it works in Texas. In Texas, all of that TV stuff refers to a Protective Order, which is issued when Family Violence has occurred, and is likely to occur again in the future.
Then What is a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)?
A TRO is pretty much just meant to preserve the status quo. Think of it like a giant Pause Button. Don’t believe me? Take a minute to read what it says. Notice how it doesn’t say anything about not seeing your child? Notice how it doesn’t have any of that TV stuff?
Now notice what it does say. It says that you can’t: “disturb the peace of the child, or of another party;” “hide or secrete the child;” “consume alcohol within X hours of seeing the child;” and “communicate in profane language.” (among others)
However, a Court may limit custody/possession if a sworn statement is filed with the Court giving specific reasons why it is necessary to protect the child.
Like I said, this is a giant pause button that immediately tells everyone to play nicely until the Court has time to hear what everyone has to say before entering this TRO as an injunction.
How Long Does a TRO Last?
A TRO automatically expires after 14 days, or on the day that the Court sets it for a hearing, whichever is shorter. That is why your TRO probably came with an Order Setting Hearing within the next week or so.
However, if you aren’t able to make that hearing and the Judge gives you a continuance, then the other side can have the TRO extended for an additional 14 days, but it can only be extended once.
What Happens If I Violate the Terms of the TRO?
Remember, the TRO is an Order of the Court, therefore, it goes without saying that failure to comply with a Court Order can have serious ramifications.
The TRO is enforceable by Contempt. That means that each failure to comply may be punished by up to 6 months in jail, and up to a $500 fine. On top of that, the other side may be entitled to their attorney’s fees incurred in bringing your violations to the Court’s attention.
Standard Operating Procedure
If you’ve been served with a TRO, don’t be offended or wonder whether you did something specific to deserve it. In custody disputes, TROs are standard operating procedure because it merely hits the pause button until everyone gets their day in Court.
–Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,
Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Family Law Divisions
1001 Main Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3309
Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479