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What is a Temporary Restraining Order?

  • Wade Christiansen
  • Sun, 08/05/2018 - 2:38pm

When married couples are contemplating separation, they often wonder what the immediate reaction of their spouse will be when they find out.  If the spouse reacts poorly, it is very possible that the spouse could hide or waste money, lock the spouse out of the house, attempt to disrupt employment, or even hide the children of the marriage.   Ancitipating these potential problems,  a wise spouse may choose to get a Temporary Restraining Order so that by the time the other spouse finds out about the separation, he or she is already prohibited by Court order from doing any of these actions.  Today's blog will summarize the various procedural aspects of a Temporary Restraining Order.

How Do I Get a Temporary Restraining Order?

A proposed Temporary Restraining Order is filed with the Court along with the Original Petition for Divorce.  If the language is standard form, tracking the language of the Texas Family Code, the Judge assigned to the case will routinely sign it.  

How Long Does It Last?

By law, a Temporary Restraining Order expires 14 days after the Judge signs it.  However, the Judge has authority to extend the expiration for up to an additional 14 days.  The reason these orders are of short duration is that they are extraordinary in the sense that they are orders that affect the rights of individuals without the individual having an opportunity to present evidence to the Court about the case.  The typical language of a Temporary Restraining Order also contains notice to the other party of a court hearing date, which is presumably to be held before the Temporary Restraining Order expires.

What does the Temporary Restraining Order Do?

The standard form Temporary Restraining Order prohibits a wide variety of actions, such as making disparaging remarks about the other party, hiding or wasting assets, and hiding the children.  Typically, Judges require that the prohibited actions apply equally to both parties, even the party seeking the temporary restraining order.  This is known as a "joint and mutual" temporary restraining order.  The order also notifies the other party of the hearing date and the matters to be addressed at the hearing, such as who should have the exclusive right to possession of the house, vehicles and other property, who should have custody of the children, who should pay what bills, etc.

What Happens at the Hearing?

At the hearing, the parties present evidence regarding all relevant issues, such as temporary use of property, custody of the children, payment of child support and monthly living expenses.   The Court then makes a ruling as to each of these issues.  Also, the laundry list of actions prohibited by the Temporary Restraining Order, which would otherwise expire, are extended by the Court in a similar type of order known as a temporary injunction.  At this point, the list of prohibited actions continues indefinitely while the case is pending and progressing toward final resolution.

If you are considering filing for divorce, or you have reason to believe your spouse is doing so, you should immediately consult with a competent divorce attorney.  The family law attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm have extensive experience handling all aspects of divorce, including Temporary Restraining Orders.  To arrange a free case evaluation, contact the offices of Christiansen Law Firm in Houston or San Antonio.


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