Temporary Restraining Order vs. Protective Order - Bineham & Gillen

UncategorizedTemporary Restraining Order vs. Protective Order

January 13, 2021by James Gillen

When most people hear the phrase “restraining order,” they typically associate domestic violence or harassment. While a restraining order does protect victims of family violence in some states, the state of Texas calls this a protective order. So what is the difference between a temporary restraining order and a protective order, and when do you need one?


Family law cases like custody and divorce cases can take a long time to process. Meantime, you may want to set rules, or temporary orders, for the care of your child or the use of your property. If you are worried your spouse may try to cause harm before your temporary orders hearing, you can file a motion for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).

A TRO is an emergency court order that forbids a party to take certain actions until an official hearing takes place. If approved, a TRO lasts for 14 days or until a temporary orders hearing, whichever comes first.

There are several actions a TRO can stop your spouse from doing, including the following:

  • Incurring debt
  • Selling marital property
  • Taking your child out of the county
  • Withdrawing money from bank accounts
  • Removing your child from school or daycare

Getting a TRO can be broken down into these five steps:

Step 1: Contact an attorney

Since a judge will only sign a TRO in an emergency situation, it is best to speak with a lawyer to ensure it is approved. Experienced family law attorneys will know how to file a restraining order and can answer any questions you have.

Step 2: Go to the courthouse

All of the paperwork needed to file a TRO will be found at a courthouse. Just tell the clerk you want to file a TRO, and they will provide you with the necessary forms.

Step 3: Fill out the forms

In addition to the forms, you must also include an affidavit in support of your request for TRO. The affidavit should explain why a TRO is necessary and why you cannot wait for a hearing.

Step 4: Schedule an appointment with the judge

When filing your motion and affidavit with the courthouse, ask to make an appointment with the judge to present your motion for TRO. Both parties will need to be present at the scheduled appointment.

Step 5: Attend appointment with the judge

Present your paperwork to the judge. The other party will have a chance to present, as well, and the judge will make their decision to approve or deny your request for a temporary restraining order.


If you or your children are in danger of abuse or family violence, you will need to speak with an attorney about getting a protective order (PO). A PO is a court order that protects a victim from an abuser who has been violent or threatened to be violent. POs generally last two years but can last longer in certain situations. You can get a PO if you have been a victim of:

  • Family violence
  • Harassment
  • Human trafficking
  • Psychological abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Stalking

A PO can stop your abuser from:

  • Hurting, threatening to hurt or harassing you, your children or your family
  • Contacting you, your children or your family
  • Going near you, your children, your family, your home, your place of work or children’s school
  • Carrying a gun or having a license to carry a gun

For the most part, you will follow the same steps to obtain a PO as you would a temporary restraining order. Instead of an affidavit to support your request, you will need to provide evidence of abuse like photographs, communication with the abuser and police reports. In cases of emergency, a judge may issue a Temporary Ex Parte PO, which will take effect immediately until your scheduled court date.

The most important step in getting a TRO or a PO is contacting a lawyer. The experienced attorneys at Bineham & Gillen take the guesswork out of filing for a temporary restraining order or protective order. Contact our team for the most knowledgeable family and divorce lawyers in Bexar County.