Courts issue restraining orders to protect targets of abuse and harassment from further violence. In Broward County, Florida, two types of restraining orders are available: Injunctions for Protection Against Domestic Violence, and Injunctions Against Repeat, Dating, and Sexual Violence. These orders are granted when the victim is in immediate, ongoing danger of continued harm by someone who has threatened harm or has already hurt someone.
Go to the Domestic Violence Division of the Broward County Courthouse, located at 201 SE Sixth St. in Fort Lauderdale, as early as possible after the court's 8:30 a.m. opening. The process may take three to five hours.
File a petition for the type of restraining order you need; forms are available online (see Resources) or at the courthouse. Bring photo identification and any related police reports you have. Once you have filled out the paperwork, give it to the court clerk, who will file it with a judge.
Appear before a judge, the same day, in an ex parte (single party) hearing. At this hearing you will briefly present your case so the judge can decide if you are in immediate danger. You do not need to present evidence at this time, though it can be helpful. The judge will set a date for a full hearing within 15 days and, if he thinks you are in immediate danger, issue a temporary restraining order to protect you until the hearing.
The court will then give your notice of hearing and temporary restraining order to law enforcement, who will "serve"--notify--the respondent with the allegations, terms of the order and the hearing date.
Prepare for the full hearing, at which you and the respondent will have the opportunity to present your cases. It can be helpful to practice telling someone your story so you will be able to speak clearly, descriptively and accurately to the judge. Also gather any evidence you have: police or medical records, a journal of the abuse, photographs of injuries or damaged property, or witness testimony. If you think the respondent will contest the restraining order, you may also want to hire a lawyer.
Appear in court and present your case. The respondent may be present; if he fails to appear, the judge may grant the restraining order automatically. If you do not appear, your case will be thrown out and you will have to start the process over again. After hearing both sides, the judge will rule whether to grant the restraining order.
Florida restraining orders are valid for a maximum of one year, but they may be renewed annually if necessary.