Restraining Orders in Florida Family Courts
Divorce and custody battles are often some of the most heartbreaking cases that come through the courts. This is especially true when there are small children caught in the middle. While divorce can be ugly, there are certainly times when it is unavoidable. One case, in particular, would be in situations involving domestic violence. Miami family lawyers can help clients through their underlying family court case as well as in seeking an order of protection against an abusive partner (also referred to as a restraining order).
What is a Restraining Order?
A restraining order is pretty much what it sounds like; it “restrains” someone from doing something. In the context of divorce and custody battles, restraining orders are often used to protect a spouse or other intimate partner who is the victim of domestic violence. However, these orders can be used for other things, as well.
Under Florida law, there are several protected groups that may use a restraining order. These are:
- Current or former roommates
- Blood relatives
- Anyone with whom you share a child
The common scenario is that of a woman living with an abusive man. She is unable to leave on her own, often due to a lack of independent funds. A woman may be a full-time stay-at-home mother who lacks income. She may be dependent on the spouse for support. Therefore, no matter how badly she may want to leave, find her own place, and file for divorce and seek full custody of her young children, she may feel physically and financially trapped. This is certainly not the only way domestic violence plays out, however.
Domestic violence is a growing problem and it affects many people of all genders and sexual orientations. In fact, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports that as many as 43.8% of lesbians report being the victim of domestic battery or abuse and an incredible 61.1% of bisexuals surveyed stated that they had been the victims of domestic abuse. No one is immune from being impacted by this serious issue.
Using a Restraining Order for the Right Reasons
One of the more difficult problems with restraining orders is that they can serve as a double-edged sword. On one hand, they can be effective tools for protection. For instance, in the common scenario discussed above, an abused spouse or partner could seek a restraining order without giving notice to the abuser. This is known as an emergency restraining order. Once granted by the judge, without the accused being present, there is a period of time during which the alleged abuser is not permitted near the victim, their home, and in many cases, their children. This means an alleged abuser may be barred from returning home while the matter is pending.
There will always be a plenary hearing to determine whether the temporary emergency order will remain in place. If, at that hearing, the judge is not convinced that there is sufficient evidence to keep a restraining order in place, it will be removed. This means that the person requesting the restraining order will have a very short window of time in which to make arrangements before their abuser will again have access to them.
Get Legal Help Before Seeking a Restraining Order
It can be a daunting task to seek a restraining order against someone else. It is always best to speak with a skilled lawyer first. Many people are surprised to learn that in a lot of situations, the abuser can be ordered to pay the victim’s legal fees, so it is always worth reaching out to a Miami family attorney near you as soon as possible to begin planning your path forward. If you or someone you know is living in fear and needs help escaping a violent relationship, call the Sejour-Gustave Law Firm, PLLC today. Our team is ready to help.