How To Get A Restraining Order in Florida: Petitioning for a Domestic Violence Injunction

How To Get A Restraining Order in Florida: Petitioning for a Domestic Violence Injunction

Domestic Violence is a significant issue in our country and state. Nationally, one in four women and one in seven men are the victims of physical violence perpetrated by a loved one. In 2019, there were 105,298 cases of domestic violence reported in Florida, resulting in 66,069 arrests, and these are only the instances that were reported. Many victims do not report domestic abuse out of fear, shame or being controlled by their abuser, leaving the actual, total number of cases, unknown. No one should have to suffer the crime of domestic violence and every person has the right to protect themselves. If you are a victim living in the Sunshine State, then you should know how to get a restraining order in Florida, legally referred to as petitioning for a domestic violence injunction.


What Is Considered “Domestic Violence” When Filing for an Injunction?

“Domestic Violence” is any type of assault or criminal offense that results in physical injury or death of a household member that is committed by another member of the household. This can mean aggravated assault, battery, sexual assault, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or stalking, among other offenses. In Florida, there are 5 types of protective injunctions that victims can petition for. These include Domestic Violence, Sexual Violence, Repeat Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking. There are certain distinctions and requirements for filing for petitioning for an injunction in each case.

In all cases, a petition for an injunction must be “sworn” – signed in front of a notary or court clerk. A judge can issue a temporary injunction prior to a hearing, which must then be served on the respondent. In all cases, respondents must be given notice of the hearing. Both parties may bring witnesses and the judge can issue a permanent injunction following the hearing. A final injunction remains in effect until modified by the court and the respondent is subject to penalties for not following the order. In all cases, a respondent may be required to surrender guns and ammunition based solely a temporary injunction.


Differences Between Protective Injunctions in Florida

There are a few key things to know about the differences between protective injunction types in Florida. These include:

Domestic Violence

  • Protects petitioner from violence or contact and may include children.
  • Petitioner and respondent must either be family or household members who either currently live or have lived together in the past as a member of the family, unless they have a child together (current or former spouse, another person related by marriage or blood).
  • Parents of a child in common do not have to be married or have lived together.
  • Petitioner must either show they are a domestic violence victim or in eminent danger of becoming one.
  • A respondent may be required to leave a shared residence.


Sexual Violence

  • Protects adults and minor children from sexual battery; a lewd or lascivious act on or in the presence of a person under the age of 16; luring a child; or sexual performance by a child.
  • Either victim, or the parent or guardian of a child may petition.
  • The petitioner is required to cooperate with authorities once sexual violence is reported.
  • You may seek a restraining order if you have reported sexual violence and are cooperating in a criminal proceeding against the respondent, or if the respondent was previously jailed for an act of sexual violence and their prison term has expired or is within 90 days of expiring.


Repeat Violence

  • Protects adults and minor children from violence or contact.
  • You may seek a restraining order for repeat violence if you or an immediate family member have been the victim of at least two instances of violence (can include stalking), including one instance in the past six months.
  • Petitioner must fear repeat violence.
  • Either victim, or the parent or guardian of a child may petition.
  • The petitioner and the respondent do not have to be related by blood, have children together or have ever lived together.


Dating Violence

  • Protects adults and minor children from violence or contact.
  • To petition for an injunction for dating violence, there must have been a dating relationship between the petitioner and respondent within the past six months.
  • The relationship must be one that is not casual and includes the expectation of affection.
  • The petitioner must show that that they are a victim of dating violence, fear that they are in immediate danger of becoming a victim again, or for the first time.
  • Either victim, or the parent or guardian of a child may petition.


Stalking (including Cyberstalking)

  • Protects adults and minor children from stalking or cyberstalking.
  • The petitioner must show two incidents of stalking or cyberstalking.
  • Either victim, or the parent or guardian of a child may petition.


How to File for a Petition for Injunction

It is easy to file for a Petition for Injunction if you are the victim of domestic violence in the state of Florida. Simply contact your local Clerk of Court during normal working hours in the county in which you reside. One you have completed the forms, the clerk will file your petition and notify a judge who will review your petition and either provide a Notice of Hearing with a Temporary Injunction or set up a hearing without issuing a temporary injunction.

After the respondent is personally served with a copy of the petition, the Notice of Hearing and Temporary Injunction, a formal hearing will be scheduled. You are required to attend the hearing or injunction will be dismissed.

In advance of filing for a petition for a restraining order / petition for injunction, and certainly before your hearing, you would be well served to secure the services of a family law attorney experienced in Domestic Violence & Abuse law. They can help you navigate the process and ensure that you are protecting yourself and your loved ones in the best way, possible.


The caring and compassionate Florida family law attorneys at Parra Harris have years of experience helping in all areas of domestic abuse and family law, including assisting with post-judgement and enforcement. Contact us at (904) 900-1617 or [email protected] to schedule a consultation. If you are ever in eminent danger of domestic violence, do not hesitate – immediately call 911.


Paola Parra Harris