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FLORIDA: Injunctions / Protection Orders

Florida law (FS 741.28) defines domestic violence as any assault, battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, kidnapping, or false imprisonment or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury, or death of one "family or household" member by another who is, or was, residing in the same single dwelling unit. "Family or household" members include spouses, former spouses, those related by blood or marriage, those who are or were residing in the same single dwelling unit (including same sex relationships), as well as those who have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever resided together.

An Injunction for Protection may order the abuser to immediately stop the violence or harassment, to leave the shared home, to avoid contact with the victim at home, work or school, to attend batterer's intervention and/or appropriate counseling. The injunction can also provide for temporary custody, visitation, and child or spousal support.

You do not have to file any other civil action (such as divorce), or call the police in order to obtain an Injunction for Protection.

Florida recognizes domestic violence as a serious crime and has created the Injunction for Protection, which specifically addresses domestic violence. There are four types of Injunctions for Protection:

Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence
Injunctions for Protection against Domestic Violence protect you against family or household members. You can file a petition for an Injunction for Protection against Domestic Violence if your abuser is your husband or wife, your ex-husband or wife, any person related to you by blood or marriage (such as your aunt, cousin or brother-in-law), any person who lives or lived in your household as if they were part of the family (such as a boyfriend or girlfriend of another family member), and the mother or father of your baby, even if they have never lived with you or been married to you. The law protects you against these people even if they are no longer living with you. You can file for an Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence after just one violent occurrence.

Petition for Injunction Against Repeat Violence.
You may file for an Injunction against Repeat Violence, if the abuser has committed at least two acts of violence (including stalking) against you or a member of your immediate family (your child, your parents, or a sister or brother) and one of those two acts of violence has occurred within the last six months.

Petition for Injunction Against Dating Violence.
You may file for an Injunction Against Dating Violence (including stalking) if you and the abuser have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature within the past six months. Dating violence does not include violence in a casual acquaintanceship or violence between individuals who have only socialized in a business or social context.

Petition for Injunction Against Sexual Violence.
You may file for an Injunction against Sexual Violence if you are a victim of sexual violence as it is defined in the Florida Statutes. To be eligible to file a petition for an Injunction against Sexual Violence you must have reported the incident of violence to the police or other law enforcement agency and be cooperating in any criminal proceeding against the abuser. What is an act of sexual violence under the law is defined in several different sections of the Florida Statutes. The law enforcement agency to which you report the incident of violence will help you understand whether an act of sexual violence, as defined in the law, has been committed.

You also may file any of these petitions on behalf of any minor child (under 18) who is living at home and who is the victim of the violence for which protection is sought.

There is NO FEE for filing a petition for an Injunction for Protection
against Domestic Violence in the State of Florida.


Where to File

You have three choices of location when filing your petition with the clerk of the court. You can file in any ONE of the three, but can NOT file in more than one county:

- where you were living when the violence occurred
- where you live now, if you are currently or temporarily living in a different county
- in the county where your abuser lives

To find or contact the Clerk of The Court for your county, check the Directory of County Court Clerks.

How to File

BEFORE filing for an injunction, it is VITAL that you have a safety plan in place for you and your children. You are taking a step to protect yourself from your abuser and asking the court to order your abuser NOT to do certain things like coming around you and to do DO certain things like pay child support. These actions will threaten an abuser's sense of control over you, and it is vital that take you steps to protect yourself from revengeful actions and repercussions. Please see our basic safety plan and then speak with an advocate at a domestic violence program near you.

To file an Injunction for Protection you must appear in person in the Clerk's Office - hours at most locations are weekdays, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. It takes one to two hours to file. Arrive early. An advocate or clerk can assist in preparing the paper work.

There is no fee for filing an Injunction for Protection.


To file for a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence, you will need Florida Family Law form 12.980(b).

If you need to file for a Petition for Injunction Against Repeat Violence, you will need Family Law Form 12.980(g).

In addition to one of these forms, you may also need:

Form 12.980(a) -- to file for a waiver of fees;
Form 12.980(i) -- to request that your address be kept confidential;
Form 12.980(j) -- to request an extension of a domestic violence injunction; or
Form 12.980(n) -- to request an extension of a repeat violence injunction.

These forms and others can be found and downloaded from the The Florida Courts Family Law Self-Help website. You may also find forms at your local courthouse. Your courthouse may have its own (simplified) version of this form. Regardless of the form used, there will be instructions on how to fill it out and the Clerk will be available to assist you.

If you fear that giving out your address will put you in danger, tell the clerk and s/he will help you fill out a form to ask the court to allow you to keep your address a secret. This is called a Request for Confidential Filing of Address.

You will have to sign the forms in front of a notary or in front of the Clerk of Court at the Courthouse in your area.

Do not sign the form until you have shown it to a clerk!



Help with Filing and Legal Issues

As with most issues, your best resource is your local domestic violence program. Most can help to answer questions and walk you throught the process. Advocates can provide emotional support in addition to tips and information.

For the petition process, you can go to court without a lawyer. Representing yourself is called "pro se". Many people have been successful in getting Injunctions when they have gone pro se, yet in many situations it would be to your advantage to have an attorney to help you through this process; like if your abuser has an attorney or if child support or custody issues might be involved.

If you do not want to or cannot hire an attorney, there are many people who can help you go through this process. Having another person give you support through this process can be a tremendous help and could make it more likely for a judge to grant your order. Many domestic violence programs have advocates located in their local court buildings to provide support and assistance to victims. Please take advantage of their experience and services.

If you believe you need legal advice, call your attorney. If you do not have an attorney, call The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 1-800-342-8011, or the local lawyer referral service or legal aid office listed in the yellow pages of your telephone book.


What to Expect

As the process is similar in many states, please see our section on General Steps to Protection Orders.


After Granting

After receiving a certified copy of the permanent injunction, keep a copy with you at all times. Make extra copies to give to schools, landlords, work, etc.

Either party (you or your abuser) may request changes to the injunction at any time, but only the Court may modify or dismiss the injunction. Permanent Injunctions are valid and enforceable in all states after service by law enforcement, but each state has special rules regarding enforcement of out-of-state Injunctions. Only the respondent (abuser) can be punished for criminal violations of the Injunction.

If the respondent (abuser) criminally violates the injunction, the police should be called immediately. If the abuser commits a civil violation, such as refusing to obey custody, visitation, or support orders, the Clerk of Courts should be contacted.

Keep a journal of all violations and document the nature of the contact, include names of witnesses and dates. Evidence such as threatening messages or letters should be saved. If there has not been an arrest, the petitioner may go to the Clerk of the Courts to file either an Affidavit in Support of Violation or a Motion for Contempt, depending on the type of violation.




Enforcement

Your Final Injunction and Temporary ex parte Injuction are good where ever you go in Florida. Additionally, the federal law provides what is called "Full Faith and Credit," which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands. Different states have different rules for enforcing out-of-state protection orders. You can find out about policies in your state by contacting a domestic violence program, the clerk of courts, or the prosecutor in your area.

If you change residence, you should bring a copy of your order to the police or sheriff department in your new area. If you are moving out of state, you should call a domestic violence program in the state where you are going to find out how that state treats out-of-state orders. If you are moving to a new state, you may also call the National Center on Full Faith and Credit (1-800-256-5883, ext. 2) for information on enforcing your order there.

Injunctions may not be enforceable on military bases, and military protective orders may not be enforceable off base. Please check with your local police department, court clerk, and/or domestic violence advocate for more details.




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Initial support for this project was provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, under the Helping Outreach Programs Expand (H.O.P.E.) program in 2005. Points of view in this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Dept. of Justice. This site depends on contributions from our users. Please consider making a donation.

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Last updated: October 2, 2005