In Florida, a person who is in imminent danger of harm can petition the courts for a restraining order. Also known as an injunction of protection, a restraining order requires the person named in the injunction to keep a safe distance from a person or property. Depending on the type of restraining order, the petitioner, or the person seeking protection, must feel unsafe or have a history of violence with the respondent who is named in the restraining order. Filing a restraining order in Florida is free and doesn't require an attorney, making it easy for abuse victims to receive the necessary protection. In fact, most judges will hear petitions for restraining orders on the same day they're filed.
What Is a Restraining Order?
A restraining order is an order of protection issued by the Florida circuit court. The court grants a restraining order to place restrictions on a person who makes another person feel unsafe. The grounds for a restraining order in Florida vary. For example, it might require the respondent to keep a specific distance from the petitioner's home or place of employment. It can also require the respondent to keep a safe distance from the petitioner's family members. Restraining orders can also require respondents to vacate a residence or refrain from making any kind of contact.
Grounds for a Restraining Order in Florida
While the process for filing a restraining order in Florida is designed to make it easy for victims of domestic and other violence to seek protection, the court still has to determine if the petitioner is in imminent danger. There are grounds for a restraining order in Florida if the respondent causes the petitioner to feel unsafe. There doesn't need to be an episode of physical violence, only the threat of harm to a person or property. Stalking, physical or sexual violence and destruction of property are all grounds for filing a restraining order. There are also grounds if the respondent makes repeated threats, acts inappropriately towards children or if there's a fear of kidnapping. The petitioner doesn’t have to be married or live with the respondent in order to request a restraining order.
Types of Restraining Orders
In Florida, there are several types of restraining orders. A Domestic Violence restraining order is for a spouse or ex-spouse, or in situations where both parties lived together or had children together. A stalking or harassment victim may file a Stalking restraining order, and a Repeat Violence restraining order is for victims of more than one violent incident. A Sexual Violence restraining order is for someone with a history of sexual battery or for children who are being sexually abused or enticed. Finally, a Dating Violence restraining order protects people who feel unsafe and have been in a relationship within the past six months or involved over a continuing period of time.
How to Get a Restraining Order in Florida
Anyone over the age of 18 can file for a restraining order in a Florida circuit court. Parents or legal guardians can request restraining orders on behalf of children. The form is straightforward, and the petitioner has to provide as much detail as possible. Dates, times and other specifics are helpful. Once the paperwork is complete, the petitioner has to attend a hearing. Due to the nature of the petition, a judge usually hears the case on the same day. The petitioner has to swear that all information is true and correct and answer the judge's questions. After determining that the petitioner is in imminent danger, the judge will issue a 15-day protective order and set another hearing for the end of that time period. During the 15-day period, the courts will attempt to serve the respondent with the restraining order and hearing date.
The petitioner must attend the hearing, even if the respondent fails to show. At the second hearing, the judge will determine if a longer-term restraining order, for a specific or indefinite period of time, is necessary. If the judge doesn't grant a restraining order at the first or second hearing it doesn't mean the petitioner can never seek protection. The petitioner can continue to request that the judge reviews the original petition if threats or acts of violence continue.
How Long Is a Restraining Order Good For?
The length of a restraining order depends on the circumstances under which the judge grants the protective order. It can cover a specific or an indefinite period of time. After hearing both sides, the judge might also decide that there are no grounds on which to continue the restraining order. If the respondent ignores the protective order, the petitioner should first call the police and report the incident. Once the incident is on record, the petitioner should file a Petition for Violation for Injunction.
Read More: How Long Does a Restraining Order Last?
Anyone who feels unsafe due to incidents of stalking, threats or other acts of violence can file for a restraining order in Florida. It doesn't cost anything to file, nor is it necessary to hire an attorney.
- Upon submitting a notarized injunction petition, the court clerk will give you a temporary injunction that's good for 15 days. The court must serve the abuser with process within that time for the permanent injunction to take effect.
- Though an injunction creates penalties if the abuser comes into your vicinity or attempts to contact you via phone or email, it is, after all, just a piece of paper. Do not attempt to contact the abuser in any way as this can void your injunction protection and incite the abuser to commit more violence.
- Do not hesitate to obtain an injunction if you are in serious danger. However, because injunctions prohibit interaction between yourself and the other party, do not seek an injunction if you feel the situation could better be resolved through conversation, mediation or counseling.
Deb Ng is a freelance writer and published author with over 17 years of experience in creating content for the web. Prior to her freelance career, she worked for over 12 years in traditional (print) publishing. Deb's has an interest in legal matters and has been writing content for websites such as Legal Zoom, Wiley Publishing, and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals for over ten years.