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Domestic Violence Injunctions in Florida

Domestic violence is an ongoing problem in many communities. Many women seek refuge in shelters and/or apply to the court for a protective order or injunction against the abuser, who is the respondent in a petition for an injunction. Not all victims of domestic violence are women and the perpetrators can be male or female. Further, domestic violence does not always occur in the context of a marital relationship.

An injunction is a court order that prohibits a spouse, family member, household member, or even an unknown stalker from engaging in offensive conduct or from any contact at all against the petitioner.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is any violent act against a family or household member committed by another. These include assaults, aggravated assaults, battery and aggravated battery, sexual assault and battery, stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment or any other criminal offense that results in physical injury.  As defined by Section 741.28, Florida Statutes, a “’family or household member’ means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.”

Criteria for Issuing an Injunction

You can obtain an injunction if you have suffered an injury by a family member or have reasonable cause to believe you are in immediate danger of being physically harmed or are a victim of domestic violence. To determine if you are in “immediate danger,” the court will examine a number of factors:

  • History between you and the respondent including past incidents of abusive behavior, assaults, threats or other acts of violence
  • If the respondent has attempted to harm you or someone else closely associated with you
  • If the respondent has or attempted to harm a family pet
  • If the respondent has threated to use any weapons against you
  • If the respondent has threatened to kidnap or harm your child
  • Any history of violent criminal conduct by the respondent
  • The respondent has physically restrained you
  • Whether a prior injunction was issued against the respondent
  • If the respondent has intentionally damaged personal property belonging to you
  • Any other conduct that would lead you to believe you are in immediate danger from the respondent

Types of Injunctions for Domestic Violence

There are two types of injunctions that you can receive in a domestic violence case—temporary and final.

Temporary Injunction

A temporary injunction is one that you can obtain quickly and which provides immediate protection.  You can go to the courthouse in the county where you live, where you the respondent lives or where the domestic violence occurred. You need not have residency in the county where you are staying to obtain the order.

A temporary injunction is obtained ex parte or without the necessity of giving notice to the respondent or having that individual present in court to challenge it. It is a relatively easy process since the issuing judge does not need to hear oral testimony but only reviews the information that you, as petitioner, writes on the petition.

The standard in issuing the temporary injunction is as noted above—that you have alleged enough facts to demonstrate that there exists an immediate and present danger of domestic violence.  If so, then the judge will issue one and schedule a hearing date on the order. Once issued, the injunction is served on the respondent and becomes effective upon service.

The injunction lasts no longer than 15 days during which time there will be a hearing to determine whether a final injunction should be issued. The hearing is to listen to the respondent’s testimony and decide if there is an immediate and present danger. If so, the judge will issue a final injunction. Should the judge feel otherwise, another hearing should be scheduled to enable you another opportunity to present your case.

Final Injunction

An injunction offers you a measure of security since it specifically lists the restrictions placed on the respondent and the order is given to the police.  A final injunction can either reiterate the restrictions and prohibitions contained in the temporary one or include new ones. The types of restrictions the respondent must adhere to may include:

  • To stay away from your home or place of business
  • To have no contact with you at all including phone calls, texts or emails to you or through a third person
  • To leave the home you were sharing
  • Engage in no further abuse
  • Limit visitation of your child by the respondent
  • Awarding you temporary custody or 100% of the time sharing with your child
  • Awarding you temporary child support or spousal maintenance
  • Ordering the respondent into treatment
  • No possession of firearms—this is a mandatory provision
  • Any other protections the judge feels is necessary

 The Court also has the discretion to make the injunction permanent or to have it terminate at a date certain.

Other Types of Injunctions

There are other injunctions or protective orders for individuals threatened or harmed by another person who is not a family member, such as a boyfriend or girlfriend who is stalking them, calling them constantly and all hours of the day and night, damaging their property or otherwise engaging in criminal behavior and which poses an immediate and present danger to their health and safety.

These include:

  • Injunctions against repeat violence
  • Injunctions against dating violence
  • Injunctions against sexual violence

There are certain requirements or circumstances that must exist before any of these other types of injunctions may issue. Like the temporary injunction for domestic violence, you can obtain these at the courthouse where you live.