Sanctuary! When someone runs to the courthouse for an injunction or an order of protection…

GavelTemporary injunctions (or orders of protection) can become permanent in one short hearing before a judge. The petitioner is normally the person who files, and who is seeking protection from alleged domestic violence or stalking. The respondent (also known as the defendant) is the subject of the injunction – the person from whom the petitioner is seeking protection. Together, the petitioner and the respondent are known as the parties to the action.

While some petitioners are legitimately in fear for their safety, or even in actual danger, some are simply using the system to hurt the other person, or to gain exclusive use of the home. It is important to contact a Jacksonville injunction lawyer if you are in fear for your safety, or if you have been served with a temporary injunction.

Injunctions often severely limit the respondent’s rights and freedoms. For example, many injunctions include a no contact provision. A no contact provision prohibits the respondent from contacting the petitioner, directly or indirectly. Direct contact can be telephone calls, emails, and texting, among other things. Indirect contact is simply contact with the petitioner, through a third party. Even if the petitioner initiates the contact, the respondent can be held in violation if he or she responds.

As a consequence to a no contact provision, the respondent is generally required to leave the home, if the home is shared with the petitioner. Many times the parties share children, and leaving the home usually means leaving the children. Sometimes, although not always, the judge presiding over the injunction hearing will incorporate a timesharing schedule (formerly called visitation) or child support obligation. Usually, due to the nature of the proceedings, the parties have insufficient time to gather and present evidence to the Court that is vital to the determination of a timesharing schedule that is in the best interest of the children, or calculation of child support using the actual or imputed incomes of the parties and other factors that may vastly affect the child support obligation.

Another common provision of an order of protection is the distance the respondent must stay away from the petitioner. This provision greatly impacts the respondent’s freedom, since the distance the respondent must stay from the petitioner applies to all places, including public places, and places the respondent may frequent. For example, if the petitioner and the respondent attend the same church, the respondent will likely have to find another church in order to avoid violating the injunction by being, even unintentionally, within the stated radius of the petitioner. Likewise, if the respondent finds himself or herself at the same grocery store as the petitioner, the respondent must leave to avoid violating the injunction.

A lesser known provision of most injunctions is the prohibition of firearms. Many times the respondent is required to turn over his or her firearms to the police. Although many injunctions are not conducted in the criminal court, a public record is made of the injunction, which could affect one’s ability to obtain employment or future relationships.

Violating an injunction, or merely being accused of violating an injunction, can have serious consequences, such as potential incarceration.

It is very important that anyone in fear of his or her safety, as well as anyone served with a temporary injunction, contact a Jacksonville injunction attorney immediately to help ensure his or her rights are protected.


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