Sadly, domestic violence is involved in many divorce cases. The definition of Domestic Violence is violence (rape, sexual assault, battery, etc.) that occurs in a domestic setting.
The definition of Domestic Violence is any criminal offense (rape, sexual battery, battery, sexual assault, assault, aggravated assault, stalking, etc.) that results in physical injury or death to one family or household member by another family or household member. Each of these criminal offenses has its own specific definition under Florida law.
Importantly, the Florida Statutes define the term “family or household member” to include:
- former spouses
- persons who are related by blood or marriage who are presently living together as if a family
- persons who have lived together in the past as if a family
- persons who are the parents of a child regardless of whether they have been married or lived together
What is often called a restraining order is actually called an Order of Protection Against Domestic Violence. In order to obtain such an order, you must prove to the judge that you have a reasonable belief that you are in imminent fear of becoming a victim of domestic violence. It is important to understand that you do not need to already be a victim of domestic violence in order to obtain an Order of Protection. In other words, there is no requirement that you already be injured to get an Order of Protection. Also, the injury does not need to be a physical injury (broken arm, bruises, etc.) and can be emotional or psychological.
Typically, after you file a Petition for Order of Protection Against Domestic Violence, a judge will review your petition within a day. During this initial review, the judge will treat all of your allegations as true. If your allegations meet the legal standard for an Order, the judge will enter a Temporary Order of Protection Against Domestic Violence. This order prohibits the other party from contacting you (by phone, email, text, fax, letter, etc.), contacting you through another person, and being near your home, school, or place of business.
Whether or not the judge enters the temporary order, an order will be entered scheduling a hearing. Most of these hearing are initially scheduled within 2 weeks. It is possible to postpone the hearing – with the temporary order remaining in place during the delay.
At the final hearing, you will need to prove your allegations by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This is a much lower burden of proof than criminal court’s standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
If the judge decides to enter an Order of Protection Against Domestic Violence, the following subjects can be addressed in the Order:
- That the other party have no contact with you.
- That the other party stay away from your home, school, or place of employment
- That the other party undergo a substance abuse or mental health evaluation and comply with recommendations
- That the other side attend a batterers intervention class
- Child support
- Time sharing for children
- That the other party surrender any firearms and ammunition.
Whether you need an Order of Protection Against Domestic Violence or are defending against one, you should strongly consider hiring an experienced Orlando domestic violence lawyer.