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Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, and a Discussion on Family Violence Protective Orders and Temporary Restraining Orders in Texas

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are flooding the media with news of their divorce and allegations of family violence. This blog post is not here to pick sides between Team Amber or Team Depp, but we do want to explain the difference between a Protective Order and a Temporary Restraining Order, and what to do if you need either of those.

There is a lot of confusion about how to protect yourself from family violence in Texas. Many clients approach our law firm asking for a restraining order, but what they really want is a protective order. Here is the difference:

  • Temporary Restraining Order: This restrains someone from doing specific acts. Yes, it can restrain someone from committing family violence, but it can also do other things like restrain your spouse from taking money out of a bank account, restrain your spouse from traveling out of the county with the children, restrain your spouse from calling your clients and telling them lies about you, etc. There are countless requests for relief you can ask the Court for in the form of a restraining order. However, if your spouse violates a restraining order, that doesn’t mean you get to call the cops for it, and he/she goes to jail. You have to go to Court to request relief for the violation of the order.  (Texas Family Code Section 6.501)
  • Protective Order: A protective order protects a spouse/member of the household/child from family violence. Unlike a Temporary Restraining Order, if you receive a Protective Order from the Court, your spouse can be arrested by the police upon violation of any of its terms – anything from calling you (if it’s in the order) to showing up to your house after being served with the protective order, etc. (Definition of Family Violence: Texas Family Code Section 71.004)

IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO NOTE that both a temporary restraining order and a protective order are just pieces of paper and only as enforceable as YOU treat them. You MUST call the cops for a violation, and you MUST take other steps to protect yourself even if you have a protective order. It takes a certain type of person to commit family violence, and a piece of paper may not stop them from hurting you. The Courts provide these orders to threaten a perpetrator with jail time in attempts to keep you safe, but do not rely solely on them- take other measures to keep yourself safe.

Now that you know the difference between a Temporary Restraining Order and a Protective Order and the weight of their enforceability, how do you get one? And what do you do if you’ve been falsely accused of committing family violence like Johnny Depp claims? Hire a lawyer. Contact our law firm for more information.