In the event a Temporary Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence is granted, the court will schedule a return and final hearing which will typically take place within 15 days of the temporary injunction being issued. During this time each party will have the option of either retaining an attorney to represent him or her at the return hearing or he or she may elect to represent him or herself. When weighing this option there are several factors which should be taken into consideration.
First, each party should get an understanding of the process and procedures of a domestic violence hearing. Often times a party is operating under the misconception that the judge will advocate on their behalf and or protect them during the hearing. This misconception could not be farther from the truth and, in reality, a pro-se or unrepresented party will be held to the same legal standards and same procedural requirements as a lawyer. A domestic violence hearing will be conducted in the same manner as a non-jury trial and the judge will have to take an impartial position in order to weigh the facts and evidence of the case. In most instances, a lawyer will be able to assist with meeting the procedural elements of a hearing and will be skilled in the area of trial litigation which will benefit a party's ability to establish his or her facts and evidence.
Next, each party should have an understanding of the possible sanctions he or she may face. The sanctions of a domestic violence hearing are far reaching and can have a substantial impact on a person's daily life. There is a benefit to consulting with a Florida domestic violence attorney and understanding the sanctions a party maybe facing. A domestic violence attorney will not only be able to address the sanctions each Party faces but will be able to advocate on their client's behalf as to why certain sanctions are applicable or non-applicable under Florida law.
An attorney will not only be able to address the immediate sanctions the domestic violence court may render, but they can help assist a party with future litigation. Often times a domestic violence case is interrelated with either a criminal prosecution or a Florida divorce. A domestic violence lawyer will be able to mitigate the exposure and avoid certain pitfalls that may arise in related cases as a result of the testimony or evidence presented during the domestic violence hearing.
Although there are several other concerns that should be addressed when weighing the decision to retain an attorney for a domestic violence hearing each party should, at a minimum, understand the procedures of the hearing and the possible sanctions that may lie ahead. Because of the severity of domestic violence hearing it is always recommended that an individual at least consult with an attorney so that they can make the best possible decision.