Under Florida law domestic violence means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other criminal offense resulting in physical injury death of one family member or household member by another family or household member.

When a person petitions the court for protection against domestic violence under Florida law, commonly known as a restraining order, they must allege in the petition a factual basis for the court to grant the injunction, ex-parte, (without notice to the other side).

The person petitioning the court must allege that they are in fear of becoming a victim of domestic violence. An injunction for protection of domestic violence can be granted with or on behalf of a minor child.

If the court finds probable cause that the person petitioning for the injunction is a victim of domestic violence or has a reasonable fear that domestic violence may occur, the court can issue a temporary injunction against domestic violence. This may cause a person to move out of the home until court hearing is held.

Generally speaking a temporary domestic violence injunction is usually good for up to 15 days. Within the 15 day period the court must conduct an evidentiary hearing, taking testimony from the parties, to determine whether or not an injunction should be issued on a permanent basis. At that time the court is allowed to enter temporary child support orders, alimony orders, and visitation schedules with minor children.

Sometimes parties use domestic violence injunctions as a weapon to gain an advantage over the other side in a dissolution of marriage or custody proceeding. Because the court can issue temporary orders, without the other side being heard, the results can be quite harsh. This would include being forced to leave your home and not being allowed contact with your children.

If you find yourself in this situation you should contact a lawyer immediately. The consequences for violating an injunction are significant and you could be held in jail on a no bond status until the court hears the case. Please do not go at it alone in this kind of situation.

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