St. Mary's Law Journal


Historically, protective orders have been viewed as an effective civil legal recourse for those affected by family violence. Title Four of the Texas Family Code governs these protective orders and sets forth the requirements for obtaining such an order. With consistent improvements to Title Four, the legislature has responded to society's decreasing tolerance of family violence. As a result, now the Family Code mandates the issuance of a protective order as provided by Title Four, regardless of whether a divorce is pending. Further legislative efforts also lengthened the maximum duration of a protective order from one year to two years. Generally, only final judgments are appealable. A final judgment is one that "disposes of all claims and parties then before the court, or it states with unmistakable clarity that it is a final judgment,” leaving nothing in the suit for further decision. In contrast, an interlocutory order is not a final judgment because it "fails to dispose of all issues and parties." Only those family violence protective orders that dispose of all parties and issues should be subject to appeal. Unfortunately, the simplicity of this rule is deceiving, and those courts that have labeled protective orders as final have provided very little guidance in making such a determination. By analogizing permanent injunctions to protective orders, the courts were able to discern their finality. The appealability of a protective order is important because valuable rights are at risk. Therefore, the legislature should clarify the appealability of protective orders by providing accelerated review of independently granted protective orders. In doing so, the legislature would serve the interest behind both sides of this issue and further provide judicial clarity to Texas courts. Protective orders should be subject to accelerated review.


St. Mary's University School of Law