Questions and Answers on Injunctions for Protection against Domestic Violence
Intimate relationships can be sources of great joy, but when those relationships sour, they can bring fear and violence into spouses or partners’ lives. It is not unheard of for a spouse to lash out with threats or violence after the other spouse files for divorce. If you have been threatened with or subjected to violence by a current or former spouse or partner, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your children from additional harm. Read on to learn more about injunctions for protection in Florida.
What is an injunction for protection?
Injunctions for protection (sometimes known as “restraining orders” or “protective orders”) create a legal safeguard against someone who has threatened or committed physical violence or sexual battery against you. The injunction is a form of court order that bars the abuser from being in contact with you or being within a certain distance of your home or office; it can also give you the right to have the abuser arrested for violating the order.
Who can get an injunction?
Injunctions for protection against domestic violence are only available against a current or former spouse or intimate partner, family member, co-parent, or someone with whom you currently live or with whom you used to live. Injunctions are available against a person who has committed an act of domestic violence against you or has put you in immediate danger of becoming the victim of domestic violence. Florida law defines “domestic violence” as any assault, battery, sexual assault or battery, or other criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death committed by one family or household member against another family or household member.
There are additional forms of injunction for those who have been the victim of repeat violence, stalking, or dating violence. Speak with an attorney if you believe one of these forms of injunction may be what you need.
How do I get an injunction?
Temporary injunctions are obtained by completing a petition for protection against domestic violence and submitting it to the court. The petition should describe what has put you in fear of violence against yourself or your child. The judge will review your petition and grant or deny the injunction based solely off of your petition, so it is important that it is filled out completely and accurately. An attorney can help you complete the petition, including all relevant details. A temporary injunction will only last 15 days, during which time the court will schedule a hearing to determine whether the temporary injunction should become a final injunction, which can last for up to a year.
What will an injunction do?
An injunction can make it illegal for your ex to contact you, either in person or through other means. Depending on the injunction crafted by your judge, and what you and your attorney request that the injunction do, it could also give you full custody of your child and prevent your co-parent from having visitation time with the child. An injunction can also result in an abuser being barred from a home that you share with them, and result in temporary child or spousal support payments. Obtaining an injunction could further be used in future custodial disputes, as evidence that your co-parent should have little to no visitation time with your child due to their violent tendencies.
What will happen if my ex violates the injunction?
You may call the police, explaining that you have an injunction in place and that the abuser is violating the injunction. Law enforcement will come and, after reviewing a copy of the injunction (which you should keep with you at all times), they can arrest the abuser. Violating an injunction carries misdemeanor charges, aside from any other charges such as assault or battery that may result from the abuser being in contact with you. The abuser can also be held in contempt of court, should you decide to report the violation to the local court clerk rather than call the police to have the abuser arrested. Additionally, you may be eligible for money damages as a result of your ex violating the injunction. An attorney can help you respond effectively to a violation of an injunction.
If you are in need of assistance with a matter before the family court in Florida, such as a divorce, custodial dispute, or petition for an injunction, contact the compassionate and effective Pensacola family law attorney Crystal Collins Spencer for a consultation at 850-912-8080, with additional offices in Sandestin at 850-424-6683, and in Fort Walton Beach at 850-200-4652.