In California, a Protective Order is referred to as a Restraining Order and in Florida it is referred to as an Injunction for Protection. While every state is different, in Texas a Protective Order is different from a Restraining Order in several ways. It is important that you know and understand the difference between the two. Odds are you, or someone you know, will be needing one at some point in their life.

A Protective Order is a court order that prohibits an abuser from committing family violence. In other words, Protective Orders are only available to victims of violence between family members or intimate partners. If you are not related to that person, by family or dating relationship, you cannot get a Protective Order against them. You can get a Protective Order against an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend or a spouse—you do not have to currently be in a relationship with the person. The only requirement is that a family or dating relationship existed at one point. Protective Orders can also prohibit a person from going to or near the victim’s residence, work, school, or daycare facility. In Texas, a Protective Order lasts for up to two years and violation of the Protective Order is a criminal offense, a Class A misdemeanor or State Jail Felony.

In contrast, a Restraining Order generally protects a person from being harassed via phone calls, texts, having your bank account emptied, credit card cancelled, and other similar activities. Restraining Orders can be obtained against anyone, including neighbors and coworkers, not just family members or intimate partners. If someone violates a Restraining Order, the punishment is contempt of court, which is up to a $500 fine and/or 6 months in jail. Moreover, Restraining Orders can last until the Court changes it.

A key difference between the two orders are that if an abuser violates a protective order, the victim can immediately call the police and the police can enforce the protective order immediately, without having to go to court. With a Restraining Order, if the individual commits a violation then the police cannot arrest them on the spot. The violation will have to be addressed in front of the judge at a hearing. Remember, Protective Orders provide immediate relief for victims of family violence and can be enforced by police, while Restraining Orders provide a wide range of relief to various issues but can only be enforced through the courts.

Protective Order

Restraining Order

Only against family member or intimate partners


Violation results in criminal charges

Violation results in contempt of court

Final Order lasts up to 2 years

Lasts until Court changes it

Police can enforce

Must go to Court to enforce


In order to obtain a Protective Order your attorney must filed An Application for a Protective Order with the District Court of your county. Your attorney would then get an Ex Parte Temporary Protective Order on your behalf. This Temporary Protective Order provides the victim immediate protection from the abuser until a hearing on the Protective Order can be held in front of the Judge. The Temporary Protective Order is only valid for 20 days from the day it is signed. A Temporary Restraining Order can also be obtained but it only lasts for 14 days from the day it is signed. If you or someone you know is dealing with family violence or harassment, give us a call at (214) 494-9916.