Thursday, July 22, 2010
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
In Texas, our Family Code provides standard language for restraining orders that can be requested and served on parties at the beginning of a divorce. To a layperson, the language may seem harsh and even accusatory. Parties who get served with a restraining order often read a lot of details into it and make a lot of assumptions. In the court system, however, little significance is attached to it.
A very common procedure is for a party to file for a divorce and request a temporary restraining order (TRO) and an order setting hearing. In some counties in Texas, there's an automatic order that goes into effect immediately against both parties (it's made "mutual"), to preserve the status quo. In Tarrant County, we don't have that immediate "standing order", but judges routinely grant TROs and then make them mutual at the first hearing date. In other words, the TRO is effective against the party who gets served with it, beginning with the time of service, and then the same language is normally applied against both parties when the judge starts making temporary orders.
Sometimes parties served with a TRO are worried that they have been accused of a wide range of bad acts. That's not the case. A TRO is just an example of a fairly common approach in the law that says "Don't do these things", without saying "I think you did these things in the past". TROs are routine and courts don't put any significance on them as far as proof, or even accusations, of past acts.
It's really like everyone is starting with a clean slate and the judge says to leave things as they are and don't do anything to harm the other party.
Bottom Line: Don't sweat it if you get served with a TRO. Take it to your lawyer and go over the details so you can comply with it in the future. Your reputation is still intact.