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How to File a Restraining Order for Domestic Violence

During the holidays, alcohol and drug consumption increases. Much of this could be attributed to the partying and celebration that accompany the holidays, but victims of domestic violence know that alcohol is also a precursor to abuse. As a family law firm in Ocala, we know too well the effect that domestic violence has on its victims—whether it’s during Christmas or otherwise.

The law firm of Anne E. Raduns, PA wants our neighbors to remain safe during the holidays. Sometimes, that means filing for a temporary restraining order against your spouse. If you’ve been the victim of abuse or have reason to believe your spouse is going to harm you or someone you love, here’s what you can do to protect yourself.

#1: File for a Temporary Restraining Order

Florida has 4 types of restraining orders for different relationships. For households, you’ll either need a domestic violence order (if you live with your significant other or have a child with them) or a sexual violence order (for victims of sexual abuse).

Go to your local courthouse and file a petition for a restraining order. The courthouse employees are legally required to help you file the petition correctly, so ask them if you’re unsure. You’ll fill out basic information about yourself and the respondent (the target of the order), including a paragraph detailing what the respondent did to you. Be as detailed as possible—this is what the judge uses to determine the basis for a permanent restraining order.

The judge will review your petition immediately. If the allegation paragraph meets the requirements for a restraining order, then a temporary order will be immediately issued that will be valid for 15 days.

#2: Allow Law Enforcement to Serve the Restraining Order

You do not serve the restraining order yourself. Local police will escort you to your home if you live with your abuser, and they will force the respondent to leave. Florida courts often grant the petitioner automatic control of the home if the petitioner lives with the respondent. For at least 2 weeks, your significant other will be forced to leave you alone, stay away from the house, and be unable to contact you in any way.

Keep in mind that the 15 days is a temporary measure. The law gives your abuser the right to answer for his or her actions and offer a defense in a formal hearing—the temporary orders are simply to allow you respite from immediate danger. During this two-week period, utilize your time to gather evidence and get your facts straight regarding your abuser’s behavior. Get approximate dates, find witnesses, and clear your head.

#3: Ready Your Case for a Formal Hearing

For this step, you may want to contact a lawyer. In order to establish permanent restraining orders, the judge will schedule a formal hearing before the end of 15 days. This hearing will allow the respondent to answer your allegations and defend him or herself. You will also have the opportunity to argue for a permanent restraining order. Any evidence gathered in your case must be directly related to the allegation paragraph on your original petition.

Here’s why you need a lawyer:

The rules of evidence will apply in your hearing. Texts, emails, and hearsay will not be admitted as evidence unless they meet certain criteria. Having a lawyer on your side will ensure that the evidence in your case is both relevant and strong. Otherwise, you run the risk of letting the temporary orders lapse and allowing the respondent to return home.

Call our office at (888) 740-5140 to speak with Attorney Anne Raduns. She will be able to help you navigate your case with clarity and peace of mind.