Sometimes Divorce Can Get Ugly And Filing A Restraining Order In Florida May Be A Necessary Step
As a victim of stalking, harassment, or abuse, you have the right to feel safe. A restraining order can help provide you protection and peace of mind. In the state of Florida, you can file for an injunction for protection against domestic violence, dating violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, or stalking. The process involves submitting a petition in court, attending a hearing, and having a judge review your case to determine if a restraining order should be granted. If approved, the order will prohibit the abuser from contacting or coming near you. While obtaining a restraining order in Florida can be difficult and emotionally draining, it may be one of the best steps you can take to empower yourself and ensure your safety during a divorce.
What Is a Restraining Order in Florida?
A restraining order, also known as an injunction or order of protection, is a court order in Florida demanding that the recipient keep a certain minimum distance from the petitioner (the victim). For example, a court might order an abusive partner to stay 500 feet away from the person seeking protection.
To obtain a restraining order in Florida, you must file a petition in court. The petition should state the relationship between you and the other party, details of the incidents that led you to seek a restraining order, and the specific terms you are requesting in the order. The court will review your petition and may hold a hearing to determine if a restraining order should be issued.
If granted, a Florida restraining order can prohibit the other party from contacting you, prevent them from being within a certain distance of you, your home, workplace or vehicle, or order them to move out of a shared residence. A restraining order can remain in effect for up to one year and can be extended upon request.
Violating a restraining order is illegal and can result in legal consequences like fines or jail time. If the other party violates the order, contact local law enforcement immediately. You should also keep a copy of the restraining order on you at all times as proof of its existence.
Obtaining a restraining order in Florida can be a complex legal process. Speaking with a St. Petersburg family law attorney can help guide you through the necessary steps to seek maximum protection under the law. With the right support, you can find safety, justice and peace of mind.
Who Can File for a Restraining Order in Florida?
In Florida, any person who reasonably fears imminent violence or harm from another individual can file for an injunction for protection, commonly known as a restraining order. This often includes a spouse in a marriage suffering from domestic violence. It can also include victims of dating violence, stalking, and sexual violence such as rape.
To qualify for a restraining order in Florida, you must have a legitimate fear for your safety from someone with whom you have a specific relationship. This includes:
- Current or former spouses
- Individuals related by blood or marriage
- Individuals who have resided together as a family
- Individuals who have engaged in a dating relationship within the past 6 months
- Stalking victims
Additionally, minors or the parents or legal guardians of minors can file for an injunction for protection against child abuse, sexual violence, or stalking on behalf of a minor. Restraining orders can also be filed on behalf of incapacitated adults or by their legal guardian.
When filing for a restraining order in Florida, you will need to provide details about the most recent incidents of violence or threats, any witnesses to those events, and any existing relationship between you and the other party. The court may require additional evidence such as police reports, photos, medical records or witness statements before granting a restraining order.
If granted, a Florida restraining order is typically valid for up to one year, though it can be extended under certain circumstances. Violating a restraining order is a criminal offense that can lead to legal consequences. A restraining order provides crucial protection, but victims should remain vigilant for their safety.
Steps to Getting a Restraining Order in Florida
To obtain a restraining order in Florida, you must file a petition in court. The process typically involves the following steps:
- Gather evidence of harassment or abuse. This may include threatening messages, photos of injuries, or witness statements.
- Fill out the necessary forms. You will need to complete a petition for injunction, which details the incidents of abuse or harassment. You will also need a confidential information form and possibly other affidavits or questionnaires, depending on your specific situation. These forms are available at your local courthouse or online.
- File your paperwork at the courthouse. Submit your completed forms to the clerk of courts in the county where you or the respondent lives. You will have to pay a filing fee, unless you qualify for a waiver.
- Attend a court hearing. In most cases, a hearing will be scheduled within 14 days of filing your petition. At the hearing, you will testify before a judge about the abuse or harassment. The respondent has the right to attend the hearing and dispute your claims.
- Comply with the judge’s order. If the judge grants your petition, a restraining order will be issued against the respondent. This order will specify whether the respondent must stay away from you entirely or keep a certain distance. You must report any violations of the order to the police.
To maintain the order, you may need to return to court for follow-up hearings. A restraining order can last up to 5 years in Florida and may be extended under certain circumstances. Always keep copies of your order with you in case the respondent approaches or contacts you. By following these steps, you can take action against an abuser or harasser by obtaining a restraining order to help ensure your safety.
Types of Restraining Orders in Florida
There are four main types of restraining orders available in Florida:
Domestic Violence Injunction
A Domestic Violence Injunction, also known as a restraining order, protects victims of domestic violence. To qualify for this type of injunction, you must have a familial or domestic relationship with the respondent, such as a spouse, ex-spouse, 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, or persons who have a child in common.
Repeat Violence Injunction
A Repeat Violence Injunction protects victims of repeat violence. To qualify for this type of injunction, you must have been a victim of at least two incidents of violence or stalking by the respondent, one of which must have occurred within the last six months. The respondent can be anyone, regardless of relationship.
Sexual Violence Injunction
A Sexual Violence Injunction protects victims of sexual violence. To qualify for this type of injunction, you must have been a victim of sexual violence as defined by Florida law by the respondent. The respondent can be anyone, regardless of relationship.
A Stalking Injunction protects victims of stalking. To qualify for this type of injunction, you must have been a victim of stalking as defined by Florida law by the respondent. The respondent can be anyone, regardless of relationship.
The specific requirements to obtain each type of injunction can vary. It is best to consult an attorney to determine which option is most appropriate based on your unique situation. The attorney can also guide you through the process of filing a petition in court to request an injunction against the respondent.
Restraining Orders and Child Custody in Florida
In Florida, restraining orders can affect child custody and visitation rights. If you have children with the individual against whom you are seeking an injunction, the court may establish temporary custody and visitation as part of the restraining order. The court will consider the best interests of the child when making this determination.
To petition the court for a restraining order in Florida, you must file a sworn petition in the county where you or the respondent lives. You will have to provide details about the incidents that led you to seek protection from the court. The petition must allege that the respondent has engaged in acts of domestic violence or poses a threat of violence. You will have to describe specific acts of violence or threats that establish a pattern of behavior.
Once you file the petition, the court will schedule a hearing where both parties can present evidence. If the court finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe you are in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence, it will issue a temporary ex parte injunction. This order will remain in effect until the final hearing. At the final hearing, the court will either dismiss the petition or issue a permanent injunction.
A permanent injunction can last up to five years. It may order the respondent to stay away from your home, school, and place of employment. It can also award temporary custody of any children, establish a visitation schedule, and require the respondent to pay child support. The court may also order the respondent to attend counseling or a batterers’ intervention program.
Violating a restraining order is a criminal offense in Florida. If the respondent violates the terms of the injunction, you should contact law enforcement immediately. You may also file a motion for contempt of court and request that the court issue sanctions, including possible jail time. The court may also modify the terms of the injunction to provide you greater protection.
In summary, while seeking a restraining order in Florida, petitioners should provide concrete evidence of a pattern of domestic violence or threat of harm to have the best chance of the court granting a permanent injunction. The court considers child custody and may establish temporary terms as part of a restraining order. Violating an order can result in legal consequences.
When You Need Help Filing A Restraining Order In Florida, Call The Law Office Of William B. Bennett Today
Filing for a restraining order in Florida, while not an easy process, can provide you with legal protection from harm. By gathering evidence, completing the necessary paperwork, and presenting your case in court, you can obtain an injunction that legally requires the other party to maintain a safe distance. While a restraining order is not a permanent solution, it can provide you immediate safety and security. Seeking experienced legal representation may help resolve the underlying issues in a healthy manner. Your safety and well-being should be your top priority here. There are people and resources to help you through this difficult time. If you need help filing a restraining order in Florida, call The Law Office of William B. Bennett today at (727) 821-8000 or contact us on our website here.