When can I get a Domestic Violence Injunction?
The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that 22 to 25% of U.S. women experience domestic violence. Victims of domestic violence often share a house or children with perpetrators, making it difficult for them to distance themselves from further attacks. Fortunately, Florida law offers to help victims do this on a short time scale through domestic violence injunctions. An injunction acts primarily as a restraining order, legally prohibiting the perpetrator from coming within 500 feet of the victim’s house or place of work. It can also require temporary support payments or temporarily modify time-sharing for shared children. With the help of an experienced family law attorney like Kenneth D. Morse, anyone having proof of a reasonable fear of imminent bodily harm can file paperwork for a domestic violence injunction.
Floridians don’t have to wait for domestic violence to happen to request a domestic violence injunction. When they seek a domestic violence injunction, the must cite facts which may include:
- Threatening or committing violence
- Kidnapping them or their children
- Intentionally injuring or killing a pet (besides revealing violent tendencies, this is a historical, unethical, and illegal method of asserting dominance over a partner)
Several other common warning signs suggest that the respondent aims to prevent them from contacting law enforcement after domestic violence occurs, such as:
- Preventing them from leaving home (so they can’t escape domestic violence or report it in person)
- Destroying or stealing their cell phones and other communication devices (which they could use to report domestic violence or call the domestic violence hotline)
- Destroying or stealing their clothes (effectively trapping them in their house, as it would be illegal to leave naked)
The petition provides ample space to provide any other facts suggesting domestic violence is imminent, so this list is by no means exhaustive. Previous court actions and injunctions involving the respondent should be disclosed. A judge reviews the petition to determine if it will be granted, and will consider only the petitioner’s statements. If the judge agrees that the petitioner is in danger of domestic violence from the respondent, (s)he will issue an injunction. Note that this relief is only available if:
- The parties Are or were married, or
- The parties Live together or have lived together, or
- The parties Are relatives (by blood or in-laws), or
- The parties have a child in common. (If the respondent might be the child’s father, paternity should be determined in a different proceeding.)
- If none of the above are true, the judge can still issue a different injunction, such as repeat violence, dating violence, or sexual violence injunction.
The injunction will last for fifteen days and specify a court date on which both the petitioner and respondent must appear before a judge. The judge will give the respondent an opportunity to defend themselves before deciding whether to issue a final injunction.
Domestic violence causes victims at both emotional and physical injury. The physical pain might subside, but the damage it does to the victim’s sense of independence and his or her relationship with the perpetrator can last a lifetime. If you or someone you know is in danger of or a victim of domestic violence, contact an experienced family law attorney, like Kenneth D. Morse, for help with your case.