Domestic violence in Florida has two basic elements. There must be some act—whether an overt act or merely a threat—and that act must be committed against a person with whom the actor has a familial relationship.

Many acts, even if they are not necessarily violent in nature, can be considered acts of domestic violence. For example, the State of Florida considers the following to be acts of domestic violence:

    • Battery;
    • Aggravated battery
  • Assault;
  • Aggravated assault;
  • Sexual battery;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Stalking;
  • Aggravated stalking;
  • False imprisonment;
  • Kidnapping; or
  • Any other criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death.

Targets of Domestic Violence

In order for an act to be domestic violence, the victim must have some family-like relationship with the person engaging in the domestic violence. In Florida, the following relationships are covered under the domestic violence statute:

  • Spouses (and former spouses);
  • People related by blood;
  • People living together as family (or who have done so in the past); and
  • People who have a child together (regardless of whether they were ever married).

Obtaining a Restraining Order

Restraining orders are legally binding documents that require one party to stay a certain distance away from the party applying for the restraining order. Victims of domestic violence, or those in fear of imminent domestic violence, can petition the court for a restraining order. Restraining orders can give victims of domestic violence the peace of mind that the force of the law is behind them and their safety.

In family court, the party seeking a restraining order must generally convince a judge that domestic violence has occurred, or that it is likely to occur, before the judge will issue a permanent restraining order against a party. However, temporary restraining orders may be granted without a hearing based solely on a party’s sworn pleadings, and are therefore easier to obtain. However, temporary restraining orders last only 15 days before they must be extended.