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Temporary Orders & Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs)

This article tells you about temporary orders and temporary restraining orders (TROs) in family law cases.

What are temporary orders?

Family law cases (such as divorce or custody cases) can take a long time (especially if the case is contested).

While your case is pending (waiting to be finished), you may need orders about your children or use of your property. If so, you can ask the judge to make temporary orders.

Either party in a family law case (such as a divorce or custody case) can ask for temporary orders by filing a Motion for Temporary Orders. The judge will have a temporary orders hearing (so the judge can hear from both you and the other side). The judge will then make temporary orders.

The temporary orders will last until a final order is signed by the judge (or the temporary orders are changed by the judge).

Does every family law case need temporary orders?

No. Most family law cases will not need temporary orders.

Should I talk with a lawyer before asking for temporary orders?

Yes! A temporary orders hearing can be the most important hearing in a case. It’s a good idea to talk with a family law lawyer who can explain your options and give you advice about your particular situation.

If you need help finding a lawyer, you can:

What can temporary orders include?

Temporary orders in cases involving children can include any order necessary for the safety and welfare of the children and typically include orders regarding:

  • temporary conservatorship (custody)
  • temporary possession (visitation)
  • temporary child support
  • the provision of health insurance
  • the exchange of financial information necessary to set child support

In divorce cases, temporary orders also can include:

  • temporary use of property
  • temporary payment of debts
  • temporary spousal support
  • interim attorney’s fees
  • the exchange of information necessary to fairly divide property and debt

What is a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)?

If you are afraid the other party will do something harmful before the temporary orders hearing, you can ask the judge to sign a temporary restraining order (TRO).

A TRO is an emergency court order that orders a party not to take some particular action until a hearing can be held. A TRO lasts for 14 days or until your temporary orders hearing, whichever is sooner.

You can ask the judge for a TRO by filing a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, Temporary Injunction and Temporary Orders. You must also file an affidavit or statement made under penalty of perjury that explains why the TRO is necessary and why you can’t wait for the temporary orders hearing.

Important: A protective order is different from a TRO. If you or your children have experienced family violence, you may need a protective order. Call the National Domestic Violence 24 Hour Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for help.

What can a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) include?

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.

In an emergency, a TRO can order a parent to stay away from a child until a hearing can be held. 

A TRO cannot include orders for custody, or child support and cannot exclude a spouse from his or her residence. 

In some counties, a TRO cannot include orders automatically made in a standing order.

Will the judge sign a TRO in my case?

The judge will only sign a TRO in an emergency situation. 

Are there do-it-yourself forms I can use to ask for a temporary restraining order and/or temporary orders?

Temporary order forms are not currently available on TexasLawHelp.org. Talk to a lawyer if you need temporary orders.

If you need help finding a lawyer, you can:

Note: Temporary order forms may be available at your county law library. Temporary order forms for use in Travis County are available at the Travis County Law Library & Self-Help Center.

I was served with a Motion for Temporary Orders and Order to Appear for a Temporary Orders Hearing, what should I do?

  • Read the motion carefully.
  • Talk with a lawyer right away about your legal rights. Ask what to expect at the hearing. If possible, hire a lawyer to represent you at the hearing.
  • Make plans to go to the hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, the judge can make orders about your children (if any), property, and money without any input from you.
  • If you need more time to hire a lawyer or more time to get ready for the hearing, you may be able to reschedule the hearing. Read this article to learn more: How to Ask for a Continuance.

I was served with a Temporary Restraining Order. What should I do?

If you have been served with a TRO,

  • Read the TRO carefully and obey it. You can be held in contempt if you do not obey a court order. In addition, evidence that you disobeyed the order could be used against you at the temporary orders hearing.
  • Talk with a lawyer right away about your legal rights. Ask what to expect at the hearing. If possible, hire a lawyer to represent you at the hearing.
  • Make plans to go to the hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, the judge can make orders about your children (if any), property, and money without any input from you.
  • If you need more time to hire a lawyer or more time to get ready for the hearing, you may be able to reschedule the hearing. Read this article to learn more: How to Ask for a Continuance.

Note: A Temporary Restraining Order is different from a family violence protective order. Getting served with a TRO does not necessarily mean you’ve done anything wrong.

What happens at a temporary orders hearing?

The judge listens to you, the other party, and any witnesses. If a party has a lawyer, the judge also listens to the lawyer. The judge reviews any documents that are properly offered and admitted into evidence. 

The Judge then decides what the temporary orders will be.

Check with your court before the hearing to see if there are any time limits for a temporary orders hearing. For example, in some counties, the judge will only allow 20-30 minutes per side. Knowing this in advance will help you limit your witnesses and evidence to the most relevant. 

Can temporary orders be changed?

Yes, you can ask the Judge to change temporary orders by filing a Motion to Modify Temporary Orders. However, you must be able show a significant change in circumstances. Talk with a lawyer first. It may make more sense to set your case for a final hearing.

Forms to modify temporary orders are not available on TexasLawHelp.org.

What if I’m a grandparent or other nonparent and need to temporarily care for a child?

Temporary orders can only be made as part of a larger case (such as a divorce or custody case). If you meet certain legal requirements you may be able to file a custody case. Use this toolkit: I need a SAPCR (custody) order. I am not the child’s parent.

Another option may be for the parent (or both parents) to sign an Authorization Agreement for Nonparent Relative or Voluntary Caregiver form. This form can be used to give a close relative (or nonrelative if the child was placed by CPS) temporary authority to care for and make decisions for a child. Unlike a custody order, a nonparent authorization agreement can be revoked (taken back) by the parent at any time. Get more information and the form here: Authorization for Nonparent Care of a Child.