Actor Terrence Howard split from wife Michelle Ghent two years ago after a brief marriage during which she accused him of domestic battery, and even got a restraining order against him at the time. The couple later divorced, but their relationship -- and their legal woes -- apparently aren't over yet, because Ghent has a new protective order after Howard allegedly "sucker punched" her during a violent fight.

Ghent, sporting a black eye, filed papers in Los Angeles on Tuesday saying that the pair had an argument while vacationing together in Costa Rica last week, during which Howard hit her in the face, grabbed her by the neck, threw her against a mirror and tried to choke her.

Terrence, the Oscar-nominated star of films like 'Hustle & Flow,' 'Crash' and 'Iron Man,' denies her allegations and says Michelle is actually the volatile one -- and he produced numerous threatening text messages from her as proof.

As for the spat in Costa Rica, his sworn statement said, “Michelle suddenly went crazy for no apparent reason, said ‘I told you not to f--- with me,’ and she took out a canister of mace/pepper spray and proceeded to spray me."

Michelle doesn't deny pepper-spraying him, but claims she did so "nervously" after he glared at her and “looked toward the space next to the bed where he keeps two curved knives about 4-6 inches in length.” In the ensuing fight, she says Terrence knocked her down and kicked her, and she was afraid for her life.

He says he was too busy flushing out his eyes to hit anyone, and the fact that Ghent has previously threatened to “ruin [his] reputation and career with baseless allegations" made it no coincidence that she'd make her claims while he's making the press rounds for his new movie 'The Butler.'

Regardless, Howard has been ordered not to have contact with Ghent and to stay 100 yards away from her at all times. He filed for a restraining order against her as well, but the judge denied that request for now, saying it could be revisited during the next hearing.

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