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The top 10 things you should know about Domestic Violence Injunctions

The top 10 things you should know about Domestic Violence Injunctions

Do you believe that you need a domestic violence injunction entered by the court to protect you? Have you had a domestic violence injunction wrongfully filed against you by a partner? Is such an order preventing you from being able to see your children? If so, there are some important facts regarding domestic violence injunctions (or DVIs) with which you should be familiar:

1. Once the Petitioner files a DVI, the Judge must take all allegations as true and decide if the Petition meets the criteria for a temporary injunction. A temporary injunction will remain in place for up to 15 days. After 15 days, the Court will hold an evidentiary hearing. The evidentiary hearing is where both parties can present witnesses and other evidence to establish that an injunction is or is not appropriate under the circumstances. Due to the different standards for a temporary injunction versus an injunction entered after hearing, it is possible that a temporary injunction could be entered even if the allegations are fabricated or not supported by evidence.

2. Who can petition for a domestic violence injunction? Those persons who can file a petition for domestic violence are limited to spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons 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. For some of these classes, the parties must have resided together in the same dwelling unit either presently or at some time in the past.

3. If you do not fall into one of the categories that are listed in paragraph 2 for those that can seek an injunction, there may be another type of injunction that is appropriate for your case, such as a repeat violence injunction, a sexual violence injunction or a dating violence injunction.

4. In addition to those who are victims of domestic violence, those persons who have “reasonable cause to believe” that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence are able to seek the protection of a domestic violence injunction. This definition encompasses not only physical violence, but also verbal threats and suggestions that may cause the petitioner to fear for his or her safety.

5. The notion of “imminent fear” will be analyzed by the Court. For example, in one case decided by the Fourth District Court of Appeal in 2010, the Court found that the Mother did not have imminent fear based on the following facts: the Mother testified that three years prior to filing a petition for injunction, the Father of her child had punched a wall in their home, pushed her into a wall, tried to choke her and told her that he was going to kill her. The Mother further testified that she was going to file child support paperwork against the Father and she feared for her safety based on the past violence. At the hearing, the trial Court granted her injunction but the appellate court reversed stating that the Mother had not proved that any threat to her was imminent and the alleged violence was too far in the past. Malchan v. Howard, 29 So. 3d 453 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010).

6. In order to protect the Petitioner, the Court can enter an injunction that: restrains the Respondent from committing any acts of domestic violence, restrict the Respondent from going within 500 feet of the Petitioner and other designated areas where the Petitioner may frequent, require the Respondent to participate in anger management classes or a batterer's intervention program.

7. An injunction can also provide for a time-sharing schedule for the children, child support, alimony and/or exclusive use and possession of the family home. Therefore, the result of the injunction can have far reaching consequences and substantially impact a future divorce action or other family law matter. However, these issues must be properly requested in the court documents to be considered by the Court.

8. In deciding whether or not an injunction should be entered, the Court will consider factors such as the history between the Petitioner and Respondent, whether the Respondent has tried to harm the Petitioner or the Petitioner's family members, whether the Respondent has threatened the Petitioner's children, whether the Respondent has used or threatened to use weapons against the Petitioner, among other factors.

9. Once a domestic violence injunction has been entered, the Court may modify or dissolve the injunction at any time.

10. It is crucial for both parties involved to seek the guidance of a family lawyer during this process, as a domestic violence injunction can have far reaching effects on other family law matters such as a divorce or paternity action. Attorneys at our firm practice both criminal defense and family law, enabling us to provide our clients with comprehensive legal representation available.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen K. Miller for a free consultation with one of our attorneys at (866) 496-8752 or via email at Info@ForYourLaw.com.

BY: Stephanie N. Mack, Board Certified Marital & Family Law Attorney

June 1, 2012
 
 
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