If you are a victim of domestic violence and abuse, you are entitled to legal protections that can help you access safe spaces and options for pursuing charges against your abuser. Whether you are married, living together, or even in a romantic or sexual relationship with your abuser, a lawyer help you get the protection you need. Here are some of the ways a lawyer can help you escape domestic violence and abuse.
Get a Restraining Order
The first thing a lawyer can do is help you get a restraining order (also called an injunction or protective order) that grants you certain protections from your abuser. A restraining order against your abuser may compel them to do any or all of the following:
- Cease any abusive behaviors as defined by a court order
- Leave your home (and pay temporary child support if they are also the other parent of your child)
- Stop contacting you in any way (directly or indirectly)
- Stop approaching you, or even entering a space within a certain distance of you
A restraining order can also grant you temporary child custody of your children. If your abuser violates these orders in any way they can be arrested and criminally charged. You can be granted a temporary restraining order that has immediate effect if the judge determines you are in immediate danger and that lasts 15 days. In that 15 day period, there is a full hearing to determine if you can get a ‘final’ restraining order that is more long term, for any length from one year to the rest of your life.
You can file for a restraining order in two ways. A civil restraining order you can file on your own and though it does not impose any immediate punishment on your abuser, they can go to jail for violating it. A criminal restraining order is processed through the criminal law system, and you do not have any control over whether or not they choose to charge or prosecute your abuser.
A lawyer can help you navigate the civil and criminal process for getting a restraining order, by helping you properly file the right paperwork. They can also advocate for you to the police and criminal prosecutor.
File For Divorce & Custody
In addition to getting a restraining order, your lawyer can also help you file for divorce. Since Florida requires that a marriage be “irretrievably broken”, your abuser might argue that it is not and ask the judge to order you both undergo counseling or use a mediator. This would force you to continue to communicate and be in close proximity with them, but your lawyer can help you prove that the domestic abuse you have suffered is grounds to protect you.
At the same time, in normal divorces where you and your partner have a child together the issue of child custody could also be used to force you to interact and co-parent with your abuser. Your lawyer will again help you avoid having to stay in contact with your abuser and could even help use the domestic violence as a basis to grant you complete custody. You can also get a restraining order for your children against your abuser as well, especially if they have also been abused.
File a Lawsuit Against Your Abuser
If you have suffered physically and mentally as a result of your abuser, your lawyer can also help you file a civil lawsuit against them so you can receive financial compensation for the damages. How much you can be awarded by the court may depend the following:
- Medical bills you incurred to treat physical trauma as a result of the abuse
- Lost wages or employment if abuse caused you to miss work
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Whether punishment in the form of financial penalties is warranted
Your lawyer can help you document and prove the above, and some will even take cases such as these only for a contingent fee where they are only paid if you win in court. This helps victims of domestic abuse who might not have that much money, due to the extreme nature of their circumstances.
We can help you if you are in an abusive relationship. Please call today for a completely confidential and free consultation.