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How to Obtain a Temporary Domestic Violence Injunction (Restraining Order)

An Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence is available to persons defined as "family or household members." This includes a spouse or former spouses; persons related by blood or marriage; persons presently residing as a family or persons who have resided together in the past as a family; and persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have resided together.

In order for a person to obtain a Temporary Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence, the individual must file a petition for protection in the circuit court in which the petitioner currently or temporarily resides. The petition must include, among other things, an explanation of how the parties are related, any information regarding previous injunctions for protection or other court cases involving the parties, and a description of the act or acts that led the petitioner to believe he or she is a victim of domestic violence or is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence.

As part of the petition for protection, the petitioner can request different forms of relief including the following: injunctive relief to protect the petitioner from domestic violence; temporary exclusive use and possession of the parties' residence; temporary exclusive use and possession of personal property, such as vehicles; temporary custody of the minor children; temporary child support; and temporary alimony. Additionally, as part of the petition for protection, the petitioner can request that the respondent attend a batterers' intervention program.

For the court to grant a temporary injunction for protection against domestic violence based on the initial request/petition, the court must find that an immediate and present danger of domestic violence exists. After its review of the petition, if the court finds that an immediate and present danger of domestic violence exists, it will order an ex parte temporary injunction for protection (that means it is based just on hearing one side of the argument) which shall remain effective for a fixed period up to 15 days.

It is important to note that in the event a subsequent action for dissolution of marriage, support, or custody is filed, orders entered in the dissolution of marriage case on issues governed by Florida Statute Chapter 61 (e.g. child support, temporary support, parental responsibility) can take precedence over provisions in an injunction for protection against domestic violence. Due to the seriousness of a domestic violence injunction, the severe effects it can have on a dissolution of marriage and the criminal liability a party may face, it is highly recommended that a party speak with and retain an expert Tampa domestic violence attorney before filing a petition for protection.

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