Staying Safe When You Split Up: Protective Orders in Family Court

When emotions run high during a divorce, violence or the threat of violence is an unfortunate reality for many couples. If you feel unsafe, or believe that your spouse might harm you or your children, you have the right to ask the court for an order of protection.

Injunctive orders of protection, often referred to as restraining orders, prohibit the person named in the order from doing specified actions, such as contacting or coming near you. Restraining orders can perform a variety of functions, and take several different forms depending on your circumstances.

If you are afraid that your spouse may turn violent if you leave, consider asking the court for an order of protection. At the Law Office of Jonathan M. Galler, P.A., we can help you create an order that will keep you and your family safe.

Emergency (Ex Parte) Restraining Orders

If you are in immediate danger, you can go to the Palm Beach County or Broward county clerk of court.  The clerk will give you forms to fill out, and you will have the opportunity to explain your situation to a judge. You will talk to the judge ex parte, meaning without your former spouse or partner present. If the judge agrees that your situation is an emergency, he or she can issue a temporary restraining order.

After the judge issues a temporary restraining order, your spouse or partner will be served with the paperwork and notified of a hearing you must both attend in 14 days. At this hearing, the other person will have the opportunity to explain his or her side of the situation. Then, the judge will decide if the restraining order should be extended or dismissed.   You always have the right to have your attorney present to help argue your position to the judge.

Domestic Violence Orders of Protection

Temporary restraining orders are part of a larger type of orders called Injunctive Orders of Protection (IOP). These are civil orders that can made on an emergency basis or can be created as part of your divorce case. In addition to ordering your spouse not to hurt you or threaten you, an IOP can also be used to order a spouse to leave a shared residence, grant temporary custody of minor children, give a spouse possession of certain items of property, or order a spouse to attend therapy or counseling.

While an IOP cannot be used to order permanent changes to residences, child custody, or establish child support or alimony payments, it can be an effective, important tool for spouses whose exes are violent, angry, and refusing to cooperate with the divorce process.

IOPs are civil, not criminal, orders. If you have filed criminal charges against your spouse, the prosecutor in that case may also ask the court for a criminal restraining order. The state is in control of these orders, and may decide to drop or continue a restraining order against your wishes. You still have the option of asking for a civil IOP even if your criminal case against your spouse was dismissed.

Not Just for Married Couples

An IOP can be issued against nearly any family member or household member. If you were dating someone, lived with someone, or share a child with someone who has threatened you with violence, you can file for an IOP. In addition, restraining orders can be issued against any blood relative.

General Restraining Orders

In addition to an injunctive order of protection, a general restraining order can be used against an ex-spouse to prevent him or her from doing something which would damage the marital estate. For instance, a spouse can be restrained from selling property or emptying a joint bank account. These types of restraining orders don’t require threats of violence, but they are often used to prevent a dangerous spouse from seeking retaliation by disposing of marital assets.

Some people turn violent when confronted with the possibility of divorce or separation. If you are considering divorce, but are unsure how your spouse will react, call the Law Office of Jonathan M. Galler today. We will work with you to make sure that your interests are always protected, and help you design a divorce or separation that fits your family’s needs.

To schedule your free consultation, call 561.8816912 now.  

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