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Deciding to divorce your spouse is a difficult enough decision under any circumstances; however, when there has been domestic violence and you are afraid to leave, making the decision to do so can be terrifying. If you find yourself in such a situation it is imperative that you consult with an experienced divorce attorney. In the meantime, however, Dallas divorce lawyer Rita M. Boyd offers some insight into how you can protect yourself and your children from domestic violence during a divorce.domestic abuse

The Importance of Planning

Most victims of domestic violence have been living with fear and/or actual violence for some time before they decide to leave. The reasons people stay are complex and multi-faceted, but abusers typically use the threat of increased violence as one way to discourage their partner from leaving. Sadly, some abusers make good on those threats which makes the decision to file for a divorce even harder for the victim of domestic abuse. It also makes planning crucial when possible. The legal system can help but seeking advice and guidance from an attorney early in the process can be the key to getting that help.

Waiver of Waiting Period

One way the law can help you if you are the victim of domestic violence is by waiving the mandatory waiting period. Texas is one of many states that imposes a mandatory “cooling off” period as part of the divorce process. Normally, this means that a divorce cannot be finalized for at least 60 days after the petition is filed. For the victim of domestic violence, that 60-day period can be dangerous. With that in mind, the law provides for two exceptions to the mandatory waiting period:

  1. If your spouse has been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a crime involving family violence against you or a member of your household, the 60-day waiting period is waived.
  2. If you have an active protective order or an active magistrate’s order for emergency protection against your spouse because of family violence during your marriage, the 60-day waiting period is waived.

Temporary Restraining Order

Another crucial way you can utilize the law to protect yourself and your children if you decide to leave an abusive spouse is by filing for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) when you file for divorce. In a divorce that does not include allegations of family violence it is customary to set the matter for a hearing at which temporary orders are entered regarding things such as child support and possession and access of the children. This hearing, however, may not take place for several weeks after the petition is filed. If you are afraid that your spouse may become violent or take other harmful action before a standard hearing date can be set, you can file for a TRO. A TRO is an emergency court order that orders a party not to take some particular action until a hearing can be held. The order is an “ex parte” order, meaning it is issued without the opposing party (your spouse) present. A TRO can include orders necessary to protect your property, your safety, or the safety of the children until a temporary orders hearing can be held. If the judge believes an emergency exists a TRO can even order a parent to stay away from a child until the hearing. If granted, a TRO is only good for 14 days or until your temporary orders hearing, whichever is sooner. At the hearing, your spouse will have the opportunity to be heard on the issues covered by the TRO. The judge may vacate the order entirely, keep it in place as originally written, or modify the order. It is important to note that while they cover some of the same legal issues, a TRO is not the same as a Protective Order. A Protective Order may be necessary in your case and, if so, can be part of the divorce process as well. Your attorney can help you decide if you need to seek a Protective Order and/or a TRO.

Contact a Dallas Divorce Lawyer

If you have additional questions or concerns about divorce in Texas, contact experienced Dallas divorce lawyer Rita M. Boyd to discuss your legal rights and options by calling 972-380-8000 to schedule your appointment today. 

Dallas Bar Association C.A.R.E. Tarrant County Bar Association Texas Family Law Foundation South Texas College of Law Texas Bar College

Dallas Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral Information Service Pro Bono Texas Avvo Client's Choice Award 2017

Contact Information:

Rita M. Boyd, Attorney
Law Office of Rita M. Boyd, P.C.
5057 Keller Springs Road
Suite 300
Addison TX 75001
Phone: 972-380-8000
Email: Email Rita
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*Rita M. Boyd is not certified by Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Rita Boyd invites you to contact her and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting Rita does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to her until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

What Rita's Clients Say

This has been a growing process for me. Rita Boyd is more than a lawyer. Anyone who says differently does not know what they are talking about. I am happy to be a reference if anybody needs one. Thank you for your time.

  -- Tony L., Navasota, Texas

We had a contested, adversarial hearing. Rita Boyd was totally prepared. She used her creativity, knowledge of the law, and finesse to my distinct advantage. I walked out of the court room knowing the Judge had heard my side of the story.

  -- Tony L., Navasota, Texas