A temporary restraining order, commonly known as a “TRO” is used in family law to place injunctions without a full hearing on one or both parties. These injunctions prohibit specific actions that could endanger or prove damaging to the property in a divorce or the children of a divorce. You should have an idea on what the process entails.
A TRO is governed by Texas Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 680 and Texas Family Code § 150.001. If your spouse wishes to file a TRO that immediately excludes you from possession of or access to your children, a notice of this hearing must be given to you prior to the court date. The only exception to this is an Ex-Parte meeting with the judge, which means that only your spouse or her attorney will be present at the preliminary hearing. The judge may order a TRO Ex-Parte only if the TRO clearly demonstrates from specific facts shown by affidavit or by a verified complaint that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to the applicant or children before notice can be served and an actual hearing.
If you are on the receiving end of TRO and it prohibits you from access to your children, there are some things to keep in mind.
First: a TRO has a time limit, which is 14 days. After 14 days the TRO may be extended by a judge only once for an additional 14 days. Thus at most this TRO may only last 28 days’ absent agreement to an additional extension. A Judge does have the discretion to extend the TRO more than once if it is uncontested (you do nothing or do not appear).
Second: A TRO is NOT a Protective Order. This means that the police cannot kick you out of your house or forcibly arrest you for violating a TRO, absent any related criminal conduct. There are consequences for violating the TRO but not criminal consequence. You may be found in contempt of court by the Judge who ordered the TRO and forced to pay fines or be held to more severe sanctions. Violations will not be good for your case if you intentionally violate.
Third: A TRO must have a signed and notarized Affidavit or a verified pleading attached to the motion. If the opposing counsel did not follow these procedures the order may upon motion to dissolve be found void due to violation of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.
Fourth: You cannot practically appeal a TRO because it may only last for at most 28 days, if contested. Once you are served with the Ex-Parte TRO, you may request a motion to modify or dissolve the TRO after giving your spouse 48-hour notice and seek attorney fees if the filing was false or frivolous.
TRO’s are civil injunctions that are usually given without notice only if immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will happen. The proof rules are more relaxed in Family Law Cases. Specific TRO procedures can differ in all counties and in different courts so make sure the check online the rules of each specific jurisdiction.
TRO’s only last 14 days and cannot be enforced by police officers, absent related criminal activity. Do not be distressed if you are served a TRO one day while you are battling your spouse for child custody or property. Take a deep breath call your attorney and set a hearing to modify, vacate or dissolve the TRO.
Many counties have standing orders that issue and are effective as to both parties upon the filing of a Family Law Proceeding. Read such mandatory orders before you file your case.
In modern times the District Attorney’s office in Dallas, Collin, and Tarrant County have a zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence towards women. Unfortunately, domestic violence occurs much to frequently in our society. Though helpful in certain situations, this Zero-Tolerance policy has the potential to be abused to gain leverage in a Child Custody proceeding.
A mere allegation, is usually sufficient for the District Attorney to file charges against a man, regardless of the proof. If there is an allegation of abuse reported to the dispatcher and a police officer is sent to a home, then one of the spouses will be heading to jail. If the spouse is a father, this can be detrimental in two ways. First, the arrest for Domestic Violence will open the father up to liability when pursing his rights during a custody battle. Second, a false allegation, tactically placed, may open up a second front on a father, forcing him to defend against the District Attorney’s office for a Class A Misdemeanor.
When a father is accused for domestic violence, he will have to explain this false allegation to the District Judge and furthermore if the Zero-Policy dictates that the District Attorney pursues the allegation, then the father will have to defend himself from the State.
The mere allegation of domestic violence has severe repercussions for fathers’ that are currently fighting a custody battle for their children. The best way to deter such behaviour is to:
- Be vigilant at all times and never visit your Ex-Spouse/girlfriend one on one;
- Never enter a situation to which your Ex-Spouse/girlfriend may claim domestic abuse;
- When picking up your child always have a third-party with you (mother, father, or friend) throughout the duration of the custody case;
- Use “family wizard” when communicating with your Ex-Spouse/girlfriend;
- If your Ex-Spouse/girlfriend threatens to make a false allegation write down the date, time, and location;
It is not healthy to be paranoid of your Ex-Spouse/girlfriend if the relationship is not high risk for domestic violence allegations. You should always attempt to co-parent and amicably resolve disputes with your Ex-Spouse/girlfriend for the betterment of the children. Having said that, there are situations and circumstances in which false allegations may be used to leverage one side during a custody suit. If a false allegation is filed with the District Attorney and you are a father do not expect to receive any sympathy from the District Attorney’s Office.
Father’s Rights Attorney
Nacol Law Firm PC
The Texas Family Code defines Family Violence as an act by a member of the family or household against another member that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or a threat on a family member in danger of imminent physical harm. This abuse is defined as physical injury that results in substantial harm or genuine threat of sexual, intercourse or conduct; or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct.
What does “family” include? Individuals related by blood or affinity, marriage or former marriage, biological parents of the same child, foster children, and members or former members of the same household (including roommates).
What about child abuse?
Some very interesting statistics:
A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds
More than four children die every day as a result of child abuse
70% of children that die from abuse are under age of 4
Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level within all ethnic and cultural lines and all religions and all levels of education!
Approximately 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children
Statistics re: childhelp.org
In Texas (2008 Crime in Texas.com), victims are primarily female (75%) and the offenders are primarily male (77%). The primarily weapon involved in family violence is physical force with the use of hands, feet or fists (78%).
How can you know if child abuse exists in a household?
Look for these most common child abuse indicators in children:
Injuries that are unexplained
Major and sudden changes in a child’s behavior
Return to earlier behavior: such as bed wetting, thumb sucking, and fear of dark or strangers or more serious language or memory problems
Serious fear of going home
Changes in eating or sleeping habits
Changes in school performance or attendance
Lack of personal care or hygiene
New risk taking behaviors
Inappropriate sexual behavior
If you are a family member, friend, teacher, or child-care giver of a child who has started displaying very different behaviors or showing injuries, it is imperative that you contact someone who can either help this child or prevent any more family violence from occurring in this child’s family. This child and family need help now!
Domestic Violence is a very hot topic now. Major personalities from government, business, entertainment, sports, and religious sectors are protesting Domestic Violence and working to help create stronger laws to protect the victims of such violence.
If you are a Victim of Domestic Abuse, you must fight back! No one has the legal right to physically, mentally, or verbally abuse another individual! If you are a relative, friend or acquaintance of a potential victim or victims, please look for warning signs of abuse being committed on these people, asset legal defense on this conduct, and report your findings to the police.
Often victims are so mentally and verbally abused, they do not have the strength to defend themselves or their family. Truly be a friend and help to protect their lives by reporting any fact based suspicion of abuse to the proper authorities.
Some warning signs to look for in an abuser or a potential abuser’s conduct in a relationship:
Push for Quick involvement
A victim often has known or dated the abuser for a brief period of time before getting engaged or living together. The abuser pressures the victim for an exclusive commitment immediately.
Jealousy & Controlling Behavior
An abuser will equate jealously with love and controlling behavior to concern for the victim. The abuser becomes jealous of time spent with others. The abuser may call the victim frequently during the day, drop by unexpectedly, refuse to let the victim work, check the car mileage, or ask friends to watch the victim. As the behavior progresses and the situation worsen, the abuser may assume all control of finances or prevent the victim from coming or going freely.
An abuser expects the victim to be the perfect partner, and to frankly, without error, meet his or her every need.
An abuser will attempt to isolate the victim by severing the victim’s ties to outside support, relationships, and resources. The batterer will accuse the victim’s friends and family of being “trouble makers.” The abuser may block the victim’s access to use of a phone, car, and also discourage the victim from working. No outside contact with the rest of the world.
Playing the Victim
An abuser will blame and project upon others for all problems shortcomings. Someone is always out to get the abuser or is an obstacle to the abuser’s achievements.
Blames others for feelings
An abuser will use feelings to manipulate the victim. Common phrases to look for: “You’re hurting me by not doing what I want.” “You control how I feel.”
An abusive person is easily insulted, claiming hurt felling when he or she is really mad.
Cruelty to animals or children
This is a person who punishes animals brutally or is insensitive to their pain. The abuser may also expect children to perform beyond their capability and use physical force if a child cannot comply. 65% of abusers who beat their victims will also abuse children.
“Playful” use of force in sex
This behavior includes restraining partners against their will during sex, acting out fantasies in which the partner is helpless, initiating sex when the partner is asleep, or demanding sex when the partner is ill or tired. The abuser may also find the idea of rape exciting.
Constantly criticizes or says cruel things, degrades, curses, or calls the victim bad names. Sleep deprivation could be involved with relentless verbal abuse.
Rigid sex roles
The abuser will expect the victim to serve, obey and remain home to serve on the abuser
Sudden Mood Swings
Explosive behavior and moodiness, which can shift quickly from sweet to violent in minutes.
An abuser will beat any partner if the individual is involved with the abuser long enough for the cycle of abuse to begin.
Threats of violence
This consists of any threat of physical force meant to control the partner. Most people do not threaten their mates but an abuser will excuse this behavior by claiming “everyone talks like that.”
Physical force during an argument
This may involve an abuser holding down the victim, blocking escape routes and physically restraining the victim from leaving, pushing or shoving. Holding someone back in order to make demands, such as “You will listen to me!” is also a show of force.
When you think of domestic violence or Intimate Partner Violence between couples what usually comes to mind? A woman being hurt or abused? This is the majority of public thought in the United States, yet the latest studies on domestic violence are showing a new and very alarming trend: notable rising rates on Intimate Partner Violence against Men.
In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. This was a serious eye opener on violence and men. In the United State for the previous 12 months, app. 5,365,000 men had been victims of intimate Partner physical violence compared with 4,741,000 women. This physical violence includes slapping, pushing, & shoving. Also tracked were more serious threats of being beaten, burned, choked, kicked, slammed with a heavy object or hit with a fist. Roughly 40% of the victims of severe physical violence were men. Again in 2011 the CDC repeated the survey and the results were almost identical!
Domestic violence (intimate partner violence) against men include emotional, sexual, verbal, physical abuse or threats of abuse. It happens in heterosexual and same-sex relationships. Have you ever felt scared of your partner and changed your behavior since you were afraid of what your partner might do? If so, you may be in an abusive relationship.
Are you being abused? What are the warning signs? What kind of abuse are you experiencing?
Emotional & Verbal Abuse:
- Calls you names, belittles you, or puts you down regularly
- Is jealous and possessive and accuses you without just cause of being unfaithful
- Tries to isolate you from family and friends
- Tries to totally control your life: how you spend your money, what you wear and where you may be going
- Constantly makes unreasonable demands for your attention.
- Blames you for her violent behavior and says you deserve it
- Gets very angry or violent when drinking alcohol or using drugs
- Biting, burning, or choking you
- Hitting, punching, or slapping
- Pushing, shoving, or throwing things at you
- Knifing or burning you
- Forcibly holding you down
- Hurting you, your children or your pets
- Forcing you to have sex or engage in sexual acts against your will
- Hurting you during sex
- Forcing you to have unsafe sex
Threats and Intimidation:
- Threatens to hurt / kill you
- Threatens to kill themselves or the children
- Stalks you
- Reads all your emails, texts, or mail
- Destroys things that belong to you
Being a man in an abusive relationship, it may seem hard finding the help that you need. It has been estimated that about 20% of men who call the police to report an abusive spouse /partner are themselves arrested for domestic violence.
You do not have to stay in an abusive relationship. You need to start by discussing your situation with either someone you trust or a health professional who can give you guidance. Gather evidence on what is happening, photographs of any injury or bruises experienced during a confrontation, threatening emails or texts that can be used in a court of law, make a list of people who have experienced confrontations between you and your intimate partner.
Stay away from any type of violence with your partner since she may try to put you into a damaging situation with the police to make you look like the abuser or try to entrap you.
You can overcome these challenges and escape from the abusive intimate partner. If you have a family or are concerned for your well-being, contact a legal professional who can help you break from this situation and also work to get your children out of harm’s way. Just remember, if you are not available for her domestic violence, a predator will look for someone else to take your place and children are easy targets!