Every person has a right to live in a home safe from harm.
The courts recognize this and assist those who are not safe by permitting them to file (free of charge) a Petition for Injunction Against Domestic Violence.
The Petition is initially reviewed by a judge (generally the same day it is filed), and if the court finds that the petitioner has a reasonable and imminent fear for his/her safety, a Temporary Injunction is entered by the judge. This injunction stays in place until the alleged abuser is served with the temporary injunction and is provided a date to come to court for an evidentiary hearing where both parties present their case to the court.
There are additional remedies that can be provided in an injunction action, such as child support, exclusive use of the home, preventing “alleged” abuser from coming to your workplace, having a temporary time-sharing schedule determined by the court, etc.
Injunctions, when granted can be for a specific period of time or can be indefinite.
If an injunction is granted, a party can file at any time to have it terminated but that party must show the court what has changed since the time of entry to make the injunction no longer necessary.
It is not unusual for the victim to go to the courthouse, unrepresented, and complete the petition themselves to begin the process.
I do not recommend this.
The Petition can limit the issues discussed if not properly prepared.
In addition, if the victim does not list enough information for the court or list the information showing a present and imminent safety concern, it can be denied with or without a hearing. To prevent this from occurring, it is best to seek the advice of an attorney and/or have the attorney assist in drafting the petition for you.
Often the “alleged” victim and/or the “alleged” abuser proceed to the final hearing without counsel.
This is not recommended as most individuals are unaware of the law and/or how to properly present their case in court.
Rules of evidence (including hearsay) rules are extremely complicated.
In addition, many people are not even aware what information would assist them if they were to present it to the court. If the evidence is not presented to the court or improperly submitted, the court could refuse to consider your evidence, which could result in you not obtaining the relief you desire.
On the other hand, unfortunately, there are times where a domestic violence injunction is used for improper purposes.
In these cases, it is important for that person to obtain counsel as an injunction can have significant repercussions (i.e. inability to own guns, supervised or no timesharing with your children, public record of case, being prevented from going to certain places, being required to attend and pay for weekly anger management classes and/or batter intervention classes, etc.
It is important to retain an attorney to provide you with the best possible defense to prevent this from occurring.
Florida law that governs Domestic Violence can be found in Florida Statutes 741.