What Options exist for Victims of Domestic Violence?

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What you might think of as a “restraining order” is referred to in Florida as an “injunction for protection against domestic violence.” Victims of domestic violence may petition the court for this type of injunction in order to protect either themselves or their children from abuse. There are other types of injunctions for victims of cyberstalking, repeat violence, dating violence, and sexual violence in Florida, but this article will focus on the domestic violence injunction.

Florida’s Statutory Definition of Domestic Violence

The definition of domestic violence in accordance with Florida statutes is a violent crime (e.g., assault, battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, or kidnapping) that results in physical injury or death of a household or family member. It is important to note that assault, as defined by the Florida Statutes, does not mean physically striking someone; rather, it is the “threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so.”

What is a household or family member? In Florida, this person can be:

  • A current or former spouse
  • Someone related to you by blood or marriage
  • Anyone who currently resides with you or has resided with you as if part of a family
  • Someone with whom you have a child in common

What Can a Domestic Violence Injunction Accomplish?

The most significant objective for many domestic violence victims is to achieve physical space between themselves and their abuser. To accomplish this, a judge might order the abuser to keep a certain distance from the victim’s home and workplace. Another common condition of a domestic violence injunction is to prohibit the abuser from contacting the victim or the victim’s children. Other goals of an injunction could be (but are not limited to):

  • Providing the victim 100 percent time sharing on a temporary basis.
  • Ordering the abuser to pay the victim temporary child support or alimony
  • Ordering the abuser into counseling or treatment (this is more commonly seen as part of a diversion program in criminal domestic violence matters)

What is the process For Obtaining a Domestic Violence Injunction?

Victims may submit a petition for an injunction at the appropriate circuit court division. This can be the circuit court where either the abuser or victim lives or the circuit court where the domestic violence occurred. The petitioner will need to provide a great amount of detail about the alleged abuse. If the judge feels the Petitioner has demonstrated an imminent threat of physical harm, manifest injury, or death (i.e., imminent threat of the petitioner becoming a victim of domestic violence), he or she will issue a temporary injunction (no more than 15 days) that immediately goes into effect.

Within 15 days of the temporary injunction being issued, there will be a full hearing to determine whether a final injunction is warranted. The alleged abuser (respondent) has a right to be present at the full hearing and present evidence to show a final injunction is not warranted. If granted, a final injunction can last for a certain period of time or indefinitely. At times, a court may grant a continuance and an extension of the injunction in order to allow the respondent time to prepare for trial.

Conclusion

Our firm understands the deeply sensitive nature of domestic violence. We routinely help victims get justice by petitioning for injunctions that meet their needs and keep their children safe. Divorce and Mediation Law Firm also represents respondents who are dealing with unwarranted injunctions. To schedule a confidential consultation with our team, call us at (954)-447-2580 today.

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