Back in early December, we wrote here on our Dallas family law blog about options for married couples who agreed that they wanted to end their marriage and whose relationship was such that they could work together to resolve the family legal issues that accompany the end of a marriage. But sometimes, unfortunately, just the opposite is true — heated disputes can stoke anger and resentment.

In extreme cases, especially when one partner has trouble with anger or self-control in the first place, the other’s physical safety itself may be at risk. This is why Texas law affords victims of family violence the right to seek what is called a protective order. Let’s look in a little more detail at what the Texas Attorney General’s websitesays about protective orders, with the understanding that is information is general in nature and not intended as specific legal advice.

A few key conditions apply to protective orders. Victims and offenders (the proposed targets of protective orders) must be related to each other; this includes by marriage. They must currently live together or have lived together at some point in the past. Alternatively, if two people have a child together, one may seek a protective order against the other. Those with divorces pending may also seek protective orders, albeit only within the same court as their divorce proceeding.

A protective order can provide various types of protection, some of which are criminally enforceable. These include prohibitions on committing family violence, making threats or engaging in harassment, and — if a child is protected under the order — approaching within some distance of the child’s day care or school. Other non-criminally enforceable orders may cause an offender to leave a home or other property, attend counseling sessions or other actions.

Anyone can file for a protective order in Texas, although it may be beneficial to consult with a legal professional if this is something Dallas residents are considering. We’ll take a look at why this is in a follow-up post.