How to Initiate and Obtain a Domestic Violence Injunction (Restraining Order)
While there are six (6) different protective injunctions in the State of Florida the focus of this legal guide is on injunctions to prevent domestic violence (Fla. Stat. 741.30).
Some Reality ChecksAs a domestic violence survivor seeking protection through the court system it is always important to manage one's expectations and understand the practical result of actually getting an injunction. The purpose of this section is not to dissuade any individual from seeking protection, but to ensure that there is a clear understanding of an injunctions limitations and what the process entails.
1. Injunctions aren't magical spells that act as an impenetrable barrier for survivors - Injunctions are pieces of paper with the weight of the Court and the justice system behind them. They are a powerful tool to dissuade an individual from further contact, but should be used in conjunction with other protective measures.
2. They aren't given out like candy - While temporary injunctions are much easier to obtain, the process of getting an injunction in general can be time consuming and frustrating. Survivors must go into the process with the right mind set and be prepared to dedicated the necessary time and effort to the cause.
Who Can Seek the Protection of a DV Injunction?In Florida, any family or household member who has either, been the victim of domestic violence, or
has a reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of domestic violence, can file for an injunction. A family or household member includes
2. Former Spouse
3 Any person related to you by either blood or marriage
4. Any persons currently living together as a family or who have lived together in the past as a family
5. Any persons with children in common
6. SAME SEX COUPLES ARE INCLUDED.
Domestic violence includes:
1. Assault or aggravated assault
2. Battery or aggravated battery
3. Sexual Assault
4. Stalking or aggravated stalking
5. ANY OTHER CRIMINAL OFFENSE RESULTING IN PHYSICAL INJURY OR DEATH
The ProcessThe process begins by filing a petition that contains what is called an "affidavit" that describes the facts that you want the Court to read when deciding whether or not to grant you a temporary injunction. You need to be as detailed as possible, as this affidavit is the ONLY information that will be presented to the Court. The clerk of court at the local courthouse will be able to provide you with the necessary documents to fill out or you can go to the Florida Supreme Court website and click on family law forms to get the necessary paperwork. The clerk will only be able to provide you basic information, so it is highly recommended that you seek the counsel of an attorney experience in domestic violence injunctions.
After the petition has been filed it will be sent to the Court for review. After reviewing your petition, the Court can do 1 of 2 things:
1 - Grant a temporary injunction and set a final hearing in 15 days
2- Deny the injunction request because it does not meet the requirements of the law or the Court does not believe there is an immediate and present danger of domestic violence.
If the Court grants your petition, you will be scheduled for a final hearing within 15 days. Either party can request additional time to prepare for a final hearing as long as they show what is called "good cause." If the hearing date is continued the injunction will be extended until that new court date.
The ResultAt the final hearing both sides will be able to present witnesses and evidence that they believe either shows that they should be granted an injunction or that an injunction is not appropriate under the circumstances. These hearings can last anywhere from a couple hours to a couple of days. If the Court believes that an injunction should be granted, they can issue what is called a permanent injunction. Now the term permanent injunction is a bit misleading, as most injunctions do not go on forever. They are usually granted for a specific period of time (6 months, 1 year, etc.). In addition, to granting the injunction it is important to understand that a Court can AND SHOULD address the following issues:
1. Time-Sharing with any children in common (visitation)
2. Use of shared homes
3. Child Support
4. Requiring Respondent to enter a batterers' intervention program