Temporary Restraining Orders and Protective Orders:

How not to step in it for Mental Health Professionals.

Acorn Asks Attorneys interviews local attorneys to demystify the court world for mental health practitioners. In this episode, Jackie Cannon, an attorney at Coker Robb and Cannon, addresses the complex interplay between Temporary Restraining Order (TROs) and a Protective Order. Christy and Jackie talk directly about these orders and how mental health professionals should handle them. Jackie provides a view into the legal world for mental health practitioners, not legal advice. For more information on temporary restraining orders and protective orders, email Jackie directly or call an attorney regarding specific orders or cases.

Temporary Restraining Orders

According to the Texas Family Code, temporary restraining orders occur in family law cases. They apply to different parties, such as children, parents, family members, events or behaviors. It allows a family to get immediate ‘relief’ (a legal word which indicates the redress or assistance that a party seeks from a court. Essentially synonymous with remedy, but sometimes meant to convey a broader concept.) Jackie states that simply because a TRO exists, doesn’t mean someone did something bad. It simply means that a hearing is going to occur to determine what happened and what needs to be done about it. If someone violates a TRO, an enforcement process may occur where you file an enforcement, have a hearing and the court rules regarding what occurred. Temporary restraining orders continue throughout the case and end at the end of the case.

Protective Orders

According to the Texas Family Code, protective orders occur in cases where domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, etc have occurred. Protective Orders allow law enforcement to come in and arrest someone who has violated it immediately. A temporary protective order assumes some level of family violence has occurred, but a hearing will occur to determine the length of the protective order of 2 years to lifelong.

Mental Health Professionals (Therapists, Parent Facilitators, etc)

Mental Health Professionals or MHPs need to know what types of orders are active in their cases. We don’t enforce the orders, but we should know what the orders state so we can determine if the parties or clients can follow the orders and still receive services. If the parents only speak to each other on a coparenting app, a specific carve out may be necessary for coparent coaching  or parent facilitation or family therapy. TROs and Protective Orders provide a family with a safe place. With temporary orders (protective or restraining), this safe place allows the family to learn and practice new skills. If we do not understand these orders, our treatment will not be perceived as safe for either party covered by the orders.

What to do:

MHPS should:

  • ask for all relevant orders at intake
  • read and understand orders
  • ask that all new orders are shared within 3 days of the judge signing them
  • ask both attorneys if there are concerns about the client’s ability to receive services within the bounds of the existing orders
  • provide a safe environment for all Christy Graham, Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor, Registered Play Therapist Supervisor


Christy Graham, founder of Acorn Counseling Education Services, provides christian, evidence based court involved services. Email her directly with questions for attorneys, nominations for the next attorney to interview, or questions about court involved treatment. She provides consultation, education and support for therapist, providers, and families. Christy provides play therapy, EMDR counseling as a certified EMDR provider and parent facilitation. Contact her through email at christy@acorncounseling.services.

Attorney Jacqueline Cannon, a shareholder at Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers, focuses her practice on divorce and family law matters. From the firm’s Denton office, Attorney Cannon helps Denton County-area clients with legal challenges related to divorce, property division and debt divisionspousal supportchild supportchild custodypost-decree modificationspaternityadoption, and domestic violence. She has developed a reputation for compassionate representation and guidance to her clients throughout North Texas who are dealing with challenging situations. As a certified mediator, Attorney Cannon represents clients in litigation and is also trained in collaborative divorce. Contact her through email at jackie@cokerlegal.com.


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