Most domestic violence victims believe that they are the one to blame, that it is their fault, their own making, and, most dangerous of all, that it won’t happen again. More likely than not, it will happen again and, when it does, it usually gets worst. What makes things even more complicated is having children between the abuser and the abused. Some women believe that it is better to stay in an abusive relationship and keep the family intact, than to leave and breakup the family. Some women also believe that they are staying in the abusive relationship for the sake of the children. To all the women who think that, and I know this is difficult to hear…. you are wrong. An abuser parent plays a totally different game, with a whole different set of rules.
Many countries believe that what happens between a husband and wife is to be left alone. Women worldwide get abused and usually have nowhere to go, no one to listen to them, and no one to protect them. Not too long ago, women in our country had the exact same problem, if an abused woman had no family or friends to turn to, she was stuck, and the abuse continued. Things have changed, and now an abused person can turn to our courts for protection.
The state of Florida protects women and children in many different ways. I am not talking about our dedicated officers or our criminal legal system. I am talking about our Family Courts and our judges that apply Florida Family Laws that protect women and children. The number one venue
for protection is an Injunction Against Domestic Violence, and here is what you need to know:
1. What is domestic violence? I hope we are not going to go by the saying, you will know it when you see it. We need to know it way before we see it, and prevent it from being seen altogether. Florida Law defines domestic violence by F.S. §741.28. You got it right, domestic violence is any assault/aggravated assault, battery/aggravated battery, sexual assault, stalking, kidnapping/aggravated kidnapping, false imprisonment or any crime that may result in physical injury or the death of a household member by another household member.
2. Standing: The first thing a person seeking an injunction needs to do is to figure out if they have “standing” to file for the Inunction. Without standing, the injunction will not be granted. Now, who has standing? The answer is simple, spouses, former spouses, people related by blood or marriage, people residing together as a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family and finally, people who have a child in common regardless if they live together or not.
3. Where do I file? The inunction will need to be filed in the circuit court where you reside, regardless if you reside there permanently or temporarily, our laws give us the ability to flee, and with that, the ability to file in the county we fled to. Injunctions can also be filed in the county the abuse occurred.
4. Now that I filed what will happen? Well, if the court finds that you are in imminent danger, they will issue an Ex Parte Temporary Injunction and the court will order the abuser to stop the abuse immediately and order him to appear for the Final Hearing in which the Ex Parte Temporary Injunction will expire. Based on the evidence presented that day, the court may issue a Permanent Injunction. In a temporary injunction the court may order variety of things, to list a few; no contact within 500 feet, exclusive use of the marital home, temporary custody of minor children and child support.
5. How shall I prepare for the final hearing? You will need evidence; pictures, threatening emails or voicemails, witnesses, hospital records and of course your voice to tell the court what happened and why they should issue a permanent injunction.
A permanent injunction for protection against domestic violence is enforceable in all counties, as well as nationwide. If you do not have an attorney to help you during this process, you will need to use the Florida Family Law Rules version of the Petition. You can download the forms at www.flcourts.org
. There are no filing or service fees in domestic violence injunctions.
In part two of this article, I will be discussing domestic violence in divorce proceedings. Remember the abuser parent I mentioned early on, the parent that plays a totally different game, with a whole different set of rules. That will be out next blog.