Texas Restraining Orders Vs. Protective Orders – Is There A Difference?

People often use the terms “restraining orders” and “protective orders” interchangeably, however, there is a crucial distinction between the two orders. If you need to obtain either one of these orders in Texas, you will want to learn what your options are by understanding the differences between them. In the event of a divorce, your Texas divorce attorney can help you differentiate between the two types of orders and guide you in deciding which one you need to obtain or help you understand why you are receiving one.

The Similarities

Ultimately, both types of orders are implemented by the courts and signed off by a judge. The length of time that the orders are in place, the reasons that they are used, and the potential penalties that the offender will face if they violate the orders are substantially different. Below, the two types of protective orders are discussed more in detail.

Restraining Order vs Protective Order: What's the Difference?

What is a Protective Order?

protective order, which is also called an order of protection, is a court order that typically demands that a specific abuser stop harassing, stalking, threatening, or physically assaulting a specific victim.

  • Protective orders are usually set for a period of two years once a judge signs off on them.
  • These orders often require an abuser to refrain from attempting to make contact with the victim, both physically and verbally, including by telephone, text, email, social media, and any other form of communication.
  • The zone of protection of a protective order can also encompass the victim’s children and other family members, as well as property.  

What is a Restraining Order?

restraining order, on the other hand, is typically used to dictate to parties on either side of a lawsuit or court case what they can and cannot do.

  • Restraining orders can be written to protect you or your property if you have sued someone and you are afraid they will cause you harm.
  • In the event of divorce, the court may create a restraining order to ensure that one or both spouses maintain a certain conduct while the divorce is pending. In fact, restraining orders are used routinely in divorces that occur in Texas. As an example, a restraining order may prevent either spouse from withdrawing funds from all of their joint bank accounts while a divorce is pending.
  • Restraining orders can be lengthy and contain numerous provisions.


One of the biggest distinctions between these two orders is the penalties. If a party to a lawsuit or a spouse in a divorce violates a restraining order, the violation can be brought to the court’s attention. While the court has the authority to send an offender of a restraining order to jail, this typically does not happen.

On the other hand, when an abuser violates an order of protection, they can face serious criminal charges, as well as a contempt of court charge for violating a court order. In this case, the victim should call the police if an abuser violates an order of protection, as the police can enforce protective orders, while they do not have authority over restraining orders. The actual charges that are assessed for infractions will depend on the individual circumstances, including the severity of the violation and whether or not prior transgressions have occurred.

If You Are in Danger or Scared

If you feel like you are in imminent danger, you need to call 911 or the police immediately. If you are concerned that you may need an order of protection, you do not need a lawyer to obtain one. However, you may want to discuss your rights and legal concerns with an experienced Texas family law attorney before you file for one. Contact us online or call the Law Office of Lauren Cain at  (214) 234-2622.