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What are your legal options if facing family violence?

Sometimes, unfortunately, close relationships can descend into threats and violence. No one should have to deal with that. There are legal steps that you can take to help protect yourself, your children and other loved ones against anyone who has done harm or threatened harm to you.

There are laws against family violence in Texas. It's important to note that these laws are not specific to family members. They include anyone with whom you share a home or with whom you have been in an intimate or dating relationship. These laws involve not just physical violence or threats of violence, but extend to sexual assault.

If you have been the victim of family violence or are in fear for your safety or your children's safety, you can get a protective order. These orders generally mandate that the person not harm or harass you. They can also require the person to stop all communication and to stay away from your workplace and your children's school.

In some cases, the respondent in the protective order must give up his or her firearms. If the person is living in your home, he or she may, obviously, be required to move out.

Texas residents who are forced to use violence to protect themselves or their children will not be charged with any crimes involving family violence if a court determines that the action was taken for purposes of self-defense. However, it's of course best for everyone if it never gets to that point.

If you are concerned for your own safety or that of your children, other family members or those around you, it's essential to take action. A Texas family law attorney can help you determine what your legal options are and help you file the necessary documents with the court.

Source: WomensLaw.org, "Family Violence Protective Orders," accessed Sep. 16, 2015

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