The choice to get a restraining order is a personal decision, but if you ever feel threatened, you should seek help immediately. Call 9-1-1, the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-500-1119, or your local domestic violence center if you feel unsafe in any way.
As you evaluate your options for keeping yourself and your family safe from an abuser, you may consider filing for a restraining order, also known as a civil injunction. Putting legal protections in place – and those that carry misdemeanor or felony charges for violating the order – can help keep an abuser away.
What to Know Before Filing for an Injunction
Restraining orders, or civil injunctions, can be sought in cases of domestic violence to offer protection and grant certain rights, such as temporary custody of your children. As a court order, the injunction prohibits a person from engaging in threatening behavior, and violation can result in arrest.
When considering whether or not to file for an injunction, it’s important to consult a family law attorney so they can help ensure that the right steps are taken for your specific situation.
When filing for a civil injunction, the judge may rule very quickly (sometimes even on the same day) whether or not to grant a temporary injunction. Temporary injunctions are valid for 15 days and can be granted without the perpetrator’s presence.
Getting an injunction approved requires a level of evidence for the judge to evaluate. Pursuant to Florida Statute 741.30(6)(b), some factors the judge considers include:
- The history between the petitioner and the respondent, including threats, harassment, stalking, and physical abuse.
- Whether the respondent has attempted to harm the petitioner or family members or individuals closely associated with the petitioner.
- Whether the respondent has threatened to conceal, kidnap, or harm the petitioner’s child or children.
- Whether the respondent has intentionally injured or killed a family pet.
- Whether the respondent has used, or has threatened to use, against the petitioner any weapons such as guns or knives.
- Whether the respondent has physically restrained the petitioner from leaving the home or calling law enforcement.
- Whether the respondent has a criminal history involving violence or the threat of violence.
- The existence of a verifiable order of protection issued previously or from another jurisdiction.
- Whether the respondent has destroyed personal property, including, but not limited to, telephones or other communications equipment, clothing, or other items belonging to the petitioner.
- Whether the respondent engaged in any other behavior or conduct that leads the petitioner to have reasonable cause to believe that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence.
Other alternative protection orders such as a criminal stay-away order or a mutual stay-away order may offer levels of protection for victims of domestic violence, but you should discuss your options with a Florida family law lawyer to determine the best path for your situation, as there are limitations to each.
If you need legal protection against domestic violence, contact our experienced Florida family law team at the Vasquez de Lara Law Group right away.