Domestic Violence Injunction Lawyers

Any time there is domestic violence or the reasonable fear of imminent domestic violence in a relationship, the victim or person in fear should immediately seek assistance and protection from that domestic violence. While criminal statutes only deal with domestic battery after it has occurred, injunctions can be issued as long as the person has a reasonable fear of imminent domestic violence. Specifically, any person who “has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of any act of domestic violence, has standing in the circuit court to file a sworn petition for an injunction for protection against domestic violence.” See Section 61.130, Florida Statutes.

Consult a Lawyer to File a Domestic Violence Injunction

Injunctions against domestic violence can be issued in the county where the act or acts of violence occurred or where the respondent lives. There are no filing fees for the filing of an injunction. A petitioner can get all the necessary forms for the filing of an injunction at the local courthouse and there are no fees for these forms. An injunction against domestic violence can be filled regardless of whether there is a divorce or paternity case pending. The clerk is allowed to assist with the filing of a petition, but generally does not give legal advice.  

While a traditional battery (being struck or even touched against one’s will) is clearly domestic violence when it occurs between two members of a family or household (defined below), it is not the only kind of domestic violence which Florida statutes address. Section 741.28, Florida Statutes, defines domestic violence as:

“Any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”  

Of particular note is the fact that stalking is listed as a form of violence. Section 784.048 defines stalking as, “a person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of stalking.” The statute goes on to criminalize this conduct by making it a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. The statutes also defines harass as “to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.” Finally, it defines course of conduct as “a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, which evidences a continuity of purpose.” As one may expect this definition does not include constitutionally protected activity such as picketing or other organized protests.

Relationship Requirements for Domestic Violence

“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.

Children & Domestic Violence Injunctions

A parent can also file a domestic violence injunction on behalf of the minor child. In many such cases, one parent seeks a domestic violence injunction on behalf of both the parent and the minor child. An injunction can also be filed by a guardian or next of friend of the child. For a child to obtain an injunction against domestic violence, he or she must meet all the legal requirements of an adult seeking the same injunction.  

While an injunction can be filed on behalf of the minor child, great care should be taken before bringing the child to court. Generally, the family law rules prohibit a minor child from being brought to court in family law matters. These rules also govern injunctions, but it is not entirely clear whether it is allowable to bring a child to an injunction hearing when that child is a party to the injunction. Generally, it is best to seek guidance from the court on this issue. An experienced family law attorney can assist you in navigating this and other issues related to injunctions.