Marital & Family Law Blog

Seeking Protection Against Domestic Violence During COVID-19 Isolation

By: Jonathan Z. Schiller

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, intimate partner violence, more commonly referred to as domestic violence, affects 10 million people each year in the U.S. Under normal circumstances, over 20,000 calls are placed each day to domestic violence hotlines across the country.  As the government has ordered people to stay home because of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, domestic abuse hotline calls are reportedly increasing in several counties in Florida.  Similar increases in domestic violence have been documented after other natural disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

In Florida, domestic violence means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, (including cyber-stalking) aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.  § 741.28(2).  An individual or an individual on behalf of a minor child who is family or household member that has been the victim of domestic violence or has “reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence,” § 741.30(6)(b), may file a Petition for an Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence.  The Petition can be filed in the circuit court where the petitioner currently or temporarily resides, where the respondent resides, or where the domestic violence occurred.  It should be noted that there is no filing fee to seek a domestic violence injunction.  Upon application to the court, if it appears that an immediate and present danger of domestic violence exists, the court may grant a temporary injunction ex parte, pending a full hearing, and may grant such relief as the court deems necessary, including restraining respondent from committing any acts of domestic violence.  Any such temporary injunction shall be effective for a fixed period not to exceed 15 days so that a full hearing can be held.  At the return hearing, if it appears to the court that the petitioner is either the victim of domestic violence or has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim, it may grant a final injunction for a specific duration or even permanently.

If you or a family member is a victim or survivor of domestic violence and need assistance seeking protection against domestic violence in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade counties, the family law and domestic violence attorneys at Brinkley Morgan can assist you in obtaining the protection you deserve.

Additional information can be obtained by calling these hotlines:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
Florida Domestic Violence 24-Hour Crisis Hotline: 1-800-500-1119
Women In Distress of Broward County:  954-761-1133
Miami-Dade County Coordinated Victims Assistance Center:  305-285-5900
Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-96-ABUSE

Jonathan Z. Schiller is a Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist in Marital and Family Law and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He can be reached at 954-522-2200.