Protective orders can affect a spouse’s rights in divorce court

| May 10, 2021 | Domestic Violence |

It may be tempting to see a protective order as a personal extension of a spouse’s ill will if the couple has been in a bad relationship and disputes are ongoing. However, the order is from the court and not the spouse. Failing to obey it in any way could lead to criminal repercussions.

The Texas Association of Counties warns that protective orders can also have serious legal consequences in family court.

Divorce

In a judge’s mind, an unequal balance of power in an abusive relationship can make it difficult for a couple to reach a fair divorce settlement. So, in a divorce involving a spouse who has a protective order on his or her record, the family court judge has grounds to object to referring the couple to mediation and could also decline to enter a judgment on the couple’s settlement agreement reached through mediation. The judge could also grant spousal maintenance based on the protective order.

Custody

If the respondent is also a parent, the protective order could affect custody proceedings, as well. It removes the law’s presumption that it is in the best interests of the child for parents to be joint managing conservators. A protective order does not necessarily create the presumption that the respondent should not have access, but it does create grounds for a judge to assess the type and amount of access based on the circumstances.

Treating a protective order as seriously as any criminal charge is essential. Even if the respondent believes the spouse filed the application out of spite or anger, the order is a legal matter, not a tool in a domestic dispute.