Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Domestic Violence Injunction?
A petition for domestic violence injunction – sometimes called a restraining order– can be filed by anyone who is the victim of any act of domestic violence (including repeat violence, dating violence and sexual violence) or has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of any act of domestic violence. Florida Statutes outline what a petitioner may seek protection from in various types of petitions:
- Domestic violence involving spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are or have lived together as a family, or persons who have a child in common. For persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing together or have in the past.
- Dating violence is between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.
- Repeat violence involves incidents on two separate occasions, one of which must have occurred within the past six months.
- Sexual violence involves any incident of sexual battery, lewd or lascivious acts committed on or in the presence of a person younger than 16, luring or enticing a child, sexual performance by a child, or any other forcible felony wherein a sexual act is committed or attempted.
- Stalking is the repeated following, harassment, or cyber stalking of one person by another. Cyber stalk means to engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.
Where do I go for help with filing an injunction (restraining order)?
When filing a petition for an injunction, you do not need to be represented by an attorney. As part of the filing process, you will be asked for identification; so be sure to have your driver's license or other type of identification with you.
There are several courts in the community where intake unit staff are available to assist persons filing for an injunction. They will also help with referrals to social service agencies in the community, safety planning, and procedural information about the court process.
There are procedures in place which make it possible to obtain an injunction in Palm Beach County 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How does the injunction process work?
The injunction process begins when you file for an injunction at one of the intake locations listed above. The intake unit staff will help you complete all the necessary paperwork, which is taken to a judge to review. If the judge decides the sworn allegations contained in the paperwork meet the requirements of Florida law for the issuance of an injunction, the judge will enter a Temporary Injunction, which will be valid for 15 days. A hearing will be set within 15 days, and the Sheriff's Office will attempt to personally serve the person who the injunction is filed against (the respondent) with the injunction paperwork.
The Temporary Injunction can require the respondent to have no contact with the person filing the injunction (the petitioner), stay away from the petitioner's home and workplace, vacate a shared residence, award temporary custody of minor children and require the surrender of firearms.
At the court hearing, the judge will decide whether to grant a Permanent Injunction after taking testimony from the parties and witnesses, and considering any evidence which is presented. If a Permanent Injunction is granted, it will be effective until it is changed or ended by the judge at either party's request, after notice and hearing, or until a specific date set by the judge (i.e., 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, etc.). The Permanent Injunction can require the respondent to have no contact with the petitioner, stay away from the petitioner's home and workplace, award custody, visitation, child and spousal support, and require the surrender of firearms. The Permanent Injunction can also order the respondent to attend a batterers' intervention program and victims and children can be referred to support groups and counseling programs, free of charge.
How much does it cost to file for an injunction?
There is no charge for the injunction.
How long does an injunction last?
The time length of an injunction varies from case to case. Make sure you read your injunction (temporary or final) carefully and understand what is says.
When an injunction expires, can I get another one?
Yes. If your injunction has expired, you must fill out another petition for an injunction for protection against domestic violence. If your injunction has expired you may request an extension of the injunction by filing a motion for extension.
What constitutes a violation of an injunction?
Any of the following constitutes a violation of an injunction:
- Refusing to vacate and/or stay away from a dwelling.
- Going to the petitioner and/or any named family or household member.
- Committing an act of domestic violence against the petitioner.
- Committing any other violation through an intentional unlawful threat, word, or act of violence to the petitioner.
- Refusing to dispose of any firearms.
- Telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the petitioner directly or indirectly, unless the injunction specifically allows indirect contact through a third party.
How can I get an injunction dismissed or dropped?
If you would like to get your Temporary Injunction dismissed, you must tell the judge at the time of your hearing. The judge will not consider dismissing the injunction before the hearing date. You should appear in court on your hearing date and explain why you no longer need this protection from the court. If you have a Permanent Injunction and you would like to request that it be dismissed, you need to file a motion or write a letter to the judge and mail it or bring it in person to the intake location where you filed for the injunction.
What if I have a problem with my hearing date?
If you know you have a scheduling conflict and will not be able to attend your court hearing on the date it is set for, file a motion or write a letter to the judge asking for a new hearing date and mail it (if it will get there before the hearing date) or bring it in person to the intake location where you filed for the injunction.
If you realize that you have missed your court date, immediately write a letter to the judge asking for a new hearing date or bring it in person to the intake location where you filed for the injunction. Include your case number, judge's name, and phone number where you can be contacted (unless it is confidential) on your motion or letter. If you have any questions, call the Domestic Violence Intake Unit.
How can I get the custody, visitation, and/or child support provisions of the injunction changed?
If circumstances have changed since you got your injunction and you would like the judge to consider changing any of the conditions of the injunction, such as custody, visitation, and/or child support, you need to file a motion or write a letter to the judge requesting that a hearing be scheduled for this purpose. You should mail it or bring it in person to the intake location where you filed for the injunction. Include your case number, judge's name, and phone number where you can be contacted (unless it is confidential) on your motion or letter.
What do I do if the person I filed the injunction against (the respondent) violates the injunction?
If the respondent violates the injunction by coming into personal contact with you, call 911 (the police) to report the violation and ask for their immediate assistance. If the respondent leaves or commits some other type of violation, such as telephone or mail contact, go to the intake location where you filed for the injunction, prior to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, to start the process to file for an injunction violation.
Where can I get information about my domestic violence-related criminal case?
You can get information about your domestic violence-related criminal case by calling Domestic Violence Case Management Unitat (561)355-6316. You can also call the State Attorney's Office (DOVE Unit) at (561)355-7433.
Main Judicial Complex
205 N Dixie Highway
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Phone: (561) 355-1764
Hours of Operation:
or until court sessions conclude