Domestic Violence Law Firm in Jacksonville and Orange Park
Domestic violence is defined by Florida statute 741.28 as “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”
Domestic violence in the context of divorce is a complicated issue that can make it difficult to reach a fair settlement during the dissolution process. Family law attorneys in Florida will often advise either a victim or an accused defendant to file for a temporary injunction for protection against domestic violence. The court usually grants a temporary injunction for protection against domestic violence that is valid for 15 days. An injunction, or a restraining order in the context of divorce is a court order that bans one party from taking certain actions against the ex spouse.
Domestic Violence Injunctions in Florida
A domestic violence injunction can be obtained from the circuit where either the petitioner resides or where the domestic violence happened. If the court determines there is an “immediate and present danger” after a petition for an injunction for protection is filed, then they may issue “ex parte” orders. These “ex parte” orders are temporary but have the authority to:
- Award up to 100% of time-sharing children to the petitioner.
- Prohibit the non petitioning parting from engaging in acts of domestic violence.
- Give the petitioner sole use of the marital residence.
Injunctions are initially a civil process, rather than a criminal process; however, violating an injunction can quickly change that. Violating an injunction is a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in prison and up to a $1,000 fine. The consequences of repeat violations are more severe, such as crossing over from the realm of misdemeanors to felonies which can result in time incarcerated in a state prison.
Domestic Violence and Child Custody in Florida
A domestic violence injunction can dramatically change the course of a divorce case, especially in terms of custody arrangements. Time sharing arrangements and parenting plans are often a serious concern for parents who are trying to get out of an abusive marriage. The court can enter orders regarding parenting time arrangements if it is in the best interest of the child, even if there are already time sharing agreements in place. Florida statutes 61.13 states that “if the court determines that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child, it may order sole parental responsibility… However, the convicted parent is not relieved of any obligation to provide financial support.”
Asset Division and Spousal Support in Florida Domestic Violence Cases
Under Florida Statute §61.075, domestic violence is not a factor judges must consider when dividing marital assets. While a judge must follow equitable distribution laws and may not consider domestic violence directly when dividing property, there are indirect ways a victim of domestic violence can be awarded assets in a divorce. For example, if there are any secondary effects of domestic violence, such as career disruptions, injuries, or other various financial losses.
A judge can weigh any number of relevant factors when determining Spousal support awards. In the state of Florida, judges cannot consider “fault grounds,” which includes domestic violence; however, similarly to asset division, domestic violence may indirectly impact parts of the settlement if abuse affected income or earning power, emotional well being, or other factors that affect employability. This could also affect alimony awards if the judge determines one spouse needs alimony and whether the other spouse can pay it.
Contact a Domestic Violence Divorce Lawyer in Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida
Domestic violence is a very complicated and intricate factor in a divorce settlement. There are various complications that can cause serious issues in the realm of parenting plans and the division of assets. Any party who is a victim of domestic violence or a victim of accusation should strongly consider seeking the assistance of an attorney to ensure the safety of their rights and their overall long term interests.