Divorce Law in Florida & Restraining Orders

by Jim Thomas

Even if your divorce is amicable, it can be a heart-wrenching process. If you have been a victim of domestic violence as well, the divorce process can be fraught with fear. Florida offers legal protection in the form of a restraining order, called an injunction for protection in the Sunshine State. If your spouse has been violent or abusive, or you have reasonable fear for your safety, you can ask the court for a temporary injunction for 15 days. The court will then schedule a hearing where you can ask for a final injunction that can last for up to a year.

Injunction for Protection

An injunction for protection provides help if you are subject to abuse by a family member before, during or after a divorce. It is a court ruling that orders an abusive spouse, in almost all cases the husband, to keep his distance from you. The injunction can require your spouse to leave the home and refrain from contacting you. If you have children, you can be awarded temporary custody and your spouse ordered to pay temporary child support.

Definition of Domestic Violence

Florida statutes define domestic violence as assault, battery, sexual assault or battery, aggravated stalking, false imprisonment, or any crime resulting in physical injury or death by a family member against another family member. You are entitled to apply for an injunction if you are either the victim of domestic violence or have reason to believe you are in "immediate danger" of becoming the victim of an act of domestic violence.

Criteria for Injunction of Protection

In order to determine if you are in immediate danger, the judge will look at a number of factors, including the history between you and your spouse and any incidents of threats, harassment, stalking or physical abuse. Threats to children are grounds for an injunction. So are threats to use a weapon, destruction of your personal property, restraining you from leaving the house, and intentionally injuring or killing a family pet.

Types of Injunctions

A temporary injunction is designed to give you immediate protection if your spouse is abusing you or threatening to abuse you. A temporary injunction lasts up to15 days. During that time, a full hearing before the court will be held to determine if the temporary injunction will become a final one, as it is called in Florida. A final injunction can last for up to a year, although you can renew it in succeeding years if the court decides you are still in danger.

How to File for an Injunction

Filing for an injunction for protection is done through the county clerk's office where you reside. The clerk's office will assist you in filling out the paperwork; you'll want to bring evidence, such as police reports and diaries of the events that led you to seek an injunction. Of course, you can file for an injunction regardless of whether or not you are going through a divorce.