Domestic violence is an unfortunate situation that affects many families in South Florida. Victims of domestic violence are often uncertain of how to prevent continued violence and may be hesitant to take legal action for fear of retaliation. If you or a loved one has been a victim of domestic violence, it is important to seek the assistance of a knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale restraining order lawyer as soon as possible to determine the steps necessary to avoid any additional abuse. Carmen G. Soto is mindful of the delicate circumstances surrounding domestic violence situations and can initiate the legal proceedings needed to ensure your safety. The staff and attorneys at the Law Offices of Carmen G. Soto, P.A. speak Spanish fluently, which enables us to better serve our Spanish-speaking clients. We are cognizant of the costs of retaining legal counsel, and we provide flexible payment plans adapted to each client’s situation.Domestic Violence Under Florida Law
The Florida domestic relations statutes define domestic violence as physical assault, sexual assault, stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other crime resulting in a victim’s injury or death, when a family or household member of the victim commits the violent act. People who are related by blood or marriage or who currently live together as a family or lived together as a family in the same residence in the past, or people who have a child together, are considered family or household members.Requirements for Obtaining a Restraining Order
If you have been a victim of domestic violence, or have reason to believe that you are in danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence, it is advisable to file a petition for an injunction against domestic violence, otherwise known as a restraining order. The petition must set forth the facts regarding the domestic abuse from which you are seeking protection, and you must verify that the facts are accurate, under the penalty of perjury. You are not precluded from filing a petition if you left your residence to avoid further abuse. The petition can be filed in the county in which you reside, the county in which the abuser resides, or the county in which the violence occurred.
It is not necessary for there to be a family court case pending between your abuser and you prior to your filing the petition. If there is a case pending, however, it must be noted in the petition. You must also note any previous petitions for injunctions against domestic violence that you have filed in any county and the results of the petitions. A restraining order attorney can help Fort Lauderdale residents make sure that they meet these requirements.The Process After the Petition is Filed
Once a petition is filed, a judge will review it to determine whether it is legally sufficient. If the judge finds that you are in immediate danger, they will grant a restraining order that lasts for 15 days, and they will set a date for a hearing to allow you and the person from whom you are seeking protection to set forth evidence as to why a permanent restraining order should be granted or denied. If the judge determines that the petition sets forth sufficient facts in support of the allegations of domestic violence, but you are not in imminent danger, the judge may decline to grant a temporary restraining order, but they will set a date for a hearing to determine whether to grant a permanent restraining order. Alternatively, if the judge finds the petition to be insufficient, they will deny the restraining order. Any witness who has evidence related to the petition must present the evidence in writing to the court or under oath at the hearing on the matter.Restrictions Imposed by Restraining Orders
A restraining order will prohibit your abuser from committing any further acts of domestic violence against you. It may also prevent your abuser from contacting you or entering your residence. If children are involved, the restraining order may set forth temporary timesharing and support arrangements. Fort Lauderdale restraining order attorney Carmen Soto can protect your interests in this area as well.
Additionally, the judge may require the abuser to seek counseling or impose any other terms that are determined to be necessary to protect you. The judge may provide a duration for the restraining order, or they may allow for the restraining order to remain in effect until a further court order is issued. Mutual restraining orders, in which each party is seeking protection from the other, are not permitted under Florida law. A judge may issue separate restraining orders requiring both parties to refrain from contacting each other, however.Consequences for a Violation of a Restraining Order
There are both civil and criminal consequences for violating a restraining order. An individual who violates a restraining order will be held in civil contempt. Additionally, even though a restraining order is a civil order, an individual who violates a restraining order commits a misdemeanor in the first degree. If a person has two convictions for violations of a restraining order, a third violation is a third-degree felony.Meet with an Experienced Restraining Order Lawyer in the Fort Lauderdale Area
If you are in need of a restraining order to prevent domestic violence, it is in your best interest to meet with an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible. Carmen Soto has been a practicing attorney for over 15 years and has the knowledge and skills required to assist you in obtaining a restraining order. Our Fort Lauderdale office is conveniently located across from the Broward County courthouse, which allows us to save our clients parking fees and travel costs. Carmen Soto also represents people in Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Miramar, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, Davie, Plantation, Sunrise, Lauderhill, Weston, Tamarac, Margate, Hallandale Beach, Lauderdale Lakes, and other cities in Broward County. Our firm can be contacted at 954-523-0703 or through our website.