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Legal Information: Florida

Florida Restraining Orders

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Restraining Orders

An injunction (protective order) is a legal order issued by a state court that requires one person to stop harming another. In Florida, there are:

  • injunctions for protection against domestic violence;
  • injunctions against repeat, dating, or sexual violence;
  • injunctions for protection against stalking/cyberstalking; and
  • risk protection orders.

Injunctions for Protection Against Domestic Violence

An injunction for protection against domestic violence is a civil order that provides protection from abuse by a family or household member.

Basic info

What is an injunction for protection against domestic violence?

An injunction for protection against domestic violence (sometimes called an injunction or a restraining order) is a court document that orders the abuser to stop doing certain acts (such as abusing you, contacting you or coming near you) and makes the abuser do other acts (such as leaving your home, and paying you temporary child support). It can also give you certain rights (such as temporary custody of your children). If you have an injunction, and the abuser violates it, the police may arrest him/her for the violation.1 See What can I do if the abuser violates the injunction? for more information. For a complete list of what protections an injunction can offer, go to How can an injunction for protection against domestic violence help me?

1 Fla. Stat. § 741.30

What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Florida?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting an injunction for protection against domestic violence.

Domestic violence means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.1 If you are the victim of domestic violence or if you have reasonable cause to believe that you are in immediate danger of becoming the victim of any act of domestic violence, you can apply for an injunction against domestic violence.2

1 Fla. Stat. § 741.28(2)
2 Fla. Stat. § 741.30(1)(a)

How will the judge decide if I am “in immediate danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence?”

Even if you have not been physically battered, you can still qualify for an injunction if the judge believes you are in immediate danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence. When deciding this, the judge will look at the following factors:

  1. The history between you and the respondent, including threats, harassment, stalking, and physical abuse;
  2. If the respondent has attempted to harm you or family members or individuals closely associated with you;
  3. If the respondent has threatened to conceal, kidnap, or harm your child;
  4. If the respondent has intentionally injured or killed a family pet;
  5. If the respondent has used, or has threatened to use, any weapons such as guns or knives against you;
  6. If the respondent has physically restrained you from leaving the home or calling law enforcement;
  7. If the respondent has a criminal history involving violence or the threat of violence;
  8. If there was a prior order of protection issued against the respondent;
  9. If the respondent has destroyed personal property of yours (e.g., telephone, clothing, or other items belonging to you);
  10. Whether the respondent has behaved in any other way that leads you to reasonably believe that you are in immediate danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence.1

1 Fla. Stat. § 741.30(6)(b)

What protections can I get in an injunction for protection against domestic violence?

An injunction for protection against domestic violence can:

  • order the abuser to stay away from your home, your work, etc.;1
  • order the abuser to not contact you, directly or through a third party;1
  • order the abuser to stop abusing you;
  • tell the abuser to leave you alone;
  • order the abuser to leave the home you share with him/her;
  • give you temporary custody (known as 100% of the time-sharing in a temporary parenting plan) and limit or prohibit the abuser from time-sharing (visitation) of your children or have those visits supervised by a third party;2
  • give you temporary child support or spousal support;2
  • order the abuser to go to treatment, counseling, or a batterers' intervention program, which the abuser has to pay for;
  • refer you to a certified domestic violence center, which you can contact if you choose; and
  • order anything else that the judge believes is necessary for your protection or the protection of your children. Note: The judge cannot award attorney's fees.3

A judge will decide which of the above will be included in the order.

Note: All final injunctions (not temporary ex parte injunctions) will state that it is illegal for the respondent (abuser) to have a gun or ammunition in his/her possession.4

1 Fla.Stat. § 741.31(4)(a)(2),(5)
2 Fla. Stat. § 741.30(3)(k), (5)(a)(3), (6)(a)(3)
3 Fla .Stat. § 741.30(6)(a),(1)(g)
4 Fla. Stat. § 741.30(6)(g)

What types of injunctions for protection against domestic violence are there? How long do they last?

In Florida, when you file a petition for protection against domestic violence, the court automatically will consider giving you two types of injunctions: a temporary injunction and a final injunction for protection against domestic violence.

Temporary (ex parte) Injunctions
The temporary or ex parte injunction is a court order designed to provide you and your family members with immediate protection from the abuser. As soon as you file your petition for protection against domestic violence, the clerk will give your petition to the judge. If the judge decides that there is an immediate and present danger of domestic violence, the judge will grant the temporary injunction.1 You will not have to testify and the abuser does not need to be present. The judge will make the decision based only on the information in your petition2 so it is important to take the time to carefully fill out the petition. For more information on how to fill out the petition, please see Steps for obtaining an injunction for protection against domestic violence.

The temporary injunction takes effect as soon as the abuser is served with (formally given) a copy of the order. This is called giving the abuser notice or having the abuser served with process. 

The temporary injunction stays in effect for a certain number of days, but won't last longer than 15 days (unless the judge  grants a continuance of the hearing for "good cause" shown by either party.)  Before the fixed time period ends, there will be a full hearing to decide whether to give you a final injunction.  The date for the full hearing will be set at the same time the judge makes the decision about the temporary injunction.  The temporary injunction will last until the full hearing takes place.3   Even if the judge denies you a temporary injunction, it does not necessarily mean you will be denied a final injunction.  If the judge believes that there is no immediate and present danger of domestic violence, the judge is still supposed to set a hearing date for a final injunction where you will have a chance to better present your case.2  However, be sure to ask the judge for a hearing – sometimes judges don’t automatically set a hearing date.

Final Injunctions
At the full hearing, the judge will decide whether to give you a final injunction. The final injunction will last longer than 15 days and may provide you with more protections than the temporary injunction did.  The final injunction may have a set period of time that it will be in effect (for example, one year) or it may not have an expiration date.  If there is no expiration date, either you or the abuser can file in court to modify (change) or dissolve (end) the injunction at any time and the judge will decide whether or not to grant the relief requested.4

Note: If you are not eligible for an injunction for protection against domestic violence, you may be eligible for a different type of injunction against violence. Please see: If I am not eligible to get an injunction for protection against domestic violence, is there some other Injunction that I can get for protection against violence?

1 Fla. Stat. § 741.30(5)(a)
2 Fla. Stat. § 741.30 (5)(b)
3 Fla. Stat. § 741.30(5)(c)
4 Fla. Stat. § 741.30 (6)(c)

Where can I file for an injunction for protection against domestic violence?

You can file for an injunction for protection against domestic violence in the circuit where you live permanently or temporarily, where the abuser lives, or where the abuse occurred.1

However, if you have left the home and want to keep the address where you are staying confidential, filing in that county would likely not be a good idea since it would alert the abuser to the fact that you are living in that county.

1 Fla. Stat. § 741.30

Who can get an injunction for protection against domestic violence

Am I eligible to obtain an injunction for protection against domestic violence?

Injunctions for protection against domestic violence protect you against family or household members. You can file a petition for an injunction for protection against domestic violence if the abuser is:

  • your current or former husband or wife;
  • any person related to you by blood or marriage (such as your aunt, cousin or brother-in-law);
  • any person who lives or has lived with you, as if they were part of the family. The law protects you against these people even if they are no longer living with you; or
  • someone you have a child in common with, even if you have never lived together and never married that person.1

To read about what qualifies as domestic violence for the purpose of getting an injunction, go to What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Florida?

If you are a minor, you may need a parent or legal guardian to file for an injunction on your behalf.2 You may want to contact a domestic violence program for more information about how to get an injunction if you are a minor. Go to FL Advocates and Shelters to find a program near you.

Note: If someone other than one of these people is hurting you, there are other petitions that you may be eligible to file for protection against violence. See If I am not eligible to get an injunction for protection against domestic violence, is there some other injunction that I can get for protection against violence?

1 Fla. Stat. § 741.28(3)
2 Fla. Stat. § 784.046(2)

Can I get an injunction for protection against domestic violence against my same-sex partner?

In Florida, you may apply for an injunction against domestic violence against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Am I eligible to obtain an injunction for protection against domestic violence?  You must also be the victim of an act of domestic violence, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Florida?

You can find information about LGBTQIA victims of abuse and what types of barriers they may face on our LGBTQIA Victims page.

Can a minor file for an injunction for protection against domestic violence?

If you are a minor, you may need a parent or legal guardian to file for an injunction on your behalf.1  You may want to contact a domestic violence program for more information about how to get an injunction if you are a minor. Go to FL Advocates and Shelters to find a program near you.

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.046(2)

Is there a minimum amount of time that I must live in Florida before I can file for an injunction?

No, there is no minimum requirement of residency for you to meet before you file a petition for an injunction for protection against domestic violence in Florida. You also have the option of filing the petition in the county where the respondent lives, or where the domestic violence occurred instead of in the county where you currently live.1 This might be the best option for you if you have moved to a new county and the abuser does not know what county you are living in.

1 Fla. Stat. § 741.30(1)(k)

How much does it cost? Do I need a lawyer?

There is no fee for filing a petition for an injunction for protection against domestic violence.1 

You can represent yourself throughout the process of seeking an injunction for protection against domestic violence.2  When you represent yourself, it is called going to court "pro se."  Many people have been successful in getting injunctions when they have gone pro se, however, in many situations it would be to your advantage to have an attorney to help you through this process. (This is especially true if the abuser has an attorney or child custody issues are involved.) If you cannot afford an attorney, one of the legal services providers listed on our FL Finding a Lawyer page may be able to assist you.

If you do not want to or cannot hire an attorney, you might want to think about finding an advocate who can help you go through the process of obtaining an injunction. Having another person give you support through this process can be a tremendous help.  You will find someone who can help and who knows the system by contacting a local domestic violence organization in your area on our FL Advocates and Shelters page.

1 Fla. Stat. § 741.30(2)(a)
2 Fla. Stat. § 741.30(1)(f)

If I am not eligible to get an injunction for protection against domestic violence, is there some other injunction that I can get for protection against violence?

Yes.  If you do not qualify for an injunction for protection against domestic violence, you might qualify for one of these other types of injunctions:

1. Injunction Against Repeat Violence. You may file for an injunction against repeat violence against anyone who has committed at least two acts of violence or stalking against you or a member of your immediate family (your child, your parents, or a sister or brother) and one of those two acts of violence has occurred within the last six months.

2. Injunction Against Dating Violence. You may file for an injunction against dating violence if you have been abused or reasonably believe you are in immediate danger of becoming the victim of abuse by someone you have or had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature within the past six months. Dating violence does not include violence in a casual acquaintanceship or violence between individuals who have only socialized in a business or social context.

3. Injunction Against Sexual Violence. You may file for an injunction against sexual violence if you are a victim of sexual violence, as it is defined in the Florida statutes. To be eligible to file a petition for an injunction against sexual violence, you must have reported the incident of violence to the police or other law enforcement agency and be cooperating in any criminal proceeding against the abuser if criminal charges are brought against him. There are many difference sexual crimes that could qualify you for this injunction.  If you are unsure if your situation would qualify, the law enforcement agency to which you report the incident of violence can help you understand whether an act of sexual violence, as defined in the law, has been committed.

You also may file any of these petitions on behalf of any minor child (under 18) who is living at home and who is the victim of the violence for which protection is sought.1

The clerk of the circuit court will provide you with forms and instructions for filing any of these petitions. The clerk also will assist you in filling out the forms. You can also visit our FL Download Court Forms page for links to online forms.

The process will be similar to the process described above in Steps for obtaining an injunction for protection against domestic violence.

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.046

Steps for getting an injunction for protection against domestic violence

Step 1: Go to the courthouse and get the necessary forms.

To get an injunction, you must file your petition for an injunction for protection against domestic violence with the clerk of the circuit court. The clerk is the court official who keeps court records and files. You can file in the county where:

  • you currently live (even if you have only been living there for 1 day);
  • the abuser lives; or
  • the domestic violence occurred.1

To find the location of the circuit courthouse where the clerk's office is located, go to our FL Courthouse Locations page or look in the county government section/page in the telephone directory or on your county's website.

The clerk of the circuit court will give you the forms you need and instructions for filing a "Petition for an Injunction for Protection against Domestic Violence." The petition will be your formal request for an injunction. There is no fee to file for an injunction.2

You will also find links to online forms at our FL Download Court Forms page. This petition and other court papers may refer to the abuser as the "respondent" and to you as the "petitioner."

Also, you can get help through one of the domestic violence organizations listed on our FL Advocates and Shelters page.

Note: You will need to have some form of identification (a driver's license or a picture I.D.) to file a petition.

1 Fla. Stat. § 741.30(1)(k)
2 Fla. Stat. § 741.30(2)(a)

Step 2: Fill out the forms.

Carefully fill out the petition. If you need help filling out the forms, ask a domestic violence advocate to help you. You can reach an advocate in the county where you are filing by dialing the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-500-1119 ext 2. You can also go to our FL Advocates and Shelters page.  The forms you fill out will be used by the judge to determine why you need protection and what kind of protection you need.

If the paperwork asks for your address and you are afraid that giving your address will put you in danger, tell the clerk. S/he will help you fill out a form to ask the court to allow you to keep your address a secret.

You will likely have to give the following information when you apply for an injunction:

  1. The abuser’s current address and last known place of employment
  2. The abuser’s date of birth and a physical description of him
  3. Any aliases (other names) that he uses
  4. If you are or were married to the abuser, when and where you were married, divorced, or separated
  5. A list of any other current court cases involving you and the abuser and
  6. A list of any other times you applied for an injunction against the abuser and what happened in those cases.1

The form will ask you to give a detailed description of the facts and circumstances about the family violence and your reasons for seeking protection.

Read the petition carefully and ask questions if you don't understand something. Describe in detail how your abuser injured or threatened you. Explain when and where the abuse or threats occurred. Write about the most recent incident of violence, using descriptive language (slapping, hitting, grabbing, choking, threatening, etc.) that fits your situation. Be specific. Include details and dates, if possible.

Do not sign the form until you have shown it to a clerk. The form may have to be signed in front of a notary public, clerk or a judge at the courthouse.

1 Fla. Stat. § 741.30(3)(b)


 

Step 3: A judge will review your petition.

After you finish filling out your petition, give it to the clerk of court. The clerk will immediately take the petition to the judge. The judge will review the petition promptly and will issue a temporary ex parte injunction if s/he finds that there is an immediate threat of violence to either you or a family member. The judge will decide whether to issue the temporary injunction based on the facts included in your petition, so you should be sure to include any details in your petition that show you are in immediate danger. The temporary injunction will be effective for no more than 15 days.

Before you can get a long term, final injunction, you will have to have a full court hearing where the abuser has the opportunity to be present. The judge will give you a date for the full hearing the same time s/he decides whether to give you a temporary injunction. The full hearing will be scheduled for a time before the temporary injunction expires.

Step 4: Service of process

If you receive a temporary ex-parte injunction, it will not take effect until the papers have been served on (given to) the abuser. The clerk of court will give all of the necessary paperwork to the sheriff or another law enforcement officer who will deliver ("serve") the papers to the abuser as soon as possible.1  If the abuser lives with you, you may ask the court to have a law enforcement officer go home with you to help enforce the temporary injunction. This means that if the temporary injunction requires the abuser to move out of the house, the law enforcement officer will make him leave.2  Tell the clerk that you want help to enforce the injunction and ask for help in your petition.  To find contact information for your local sheriff, go to our FL Sheriff Departments page.

The abuser will also receive papers telling him/her when the hearing for the final injunction will take place.  A judge cannot give you a final injunction at the hearing unless the abuser has been served.  It does not matter if the abuser actually shows up at the hearing or not; it only matters that s/he received notice of the hearing date.

1 Fla. Stat. § 741.30(8)(a)(1)
2 Fla. Stat. § 741.30(8)(a)(2)

Step 5: The hearing

When you are requesting an injunction for protection, you must prove that the abuser has committed an act of domestic violence (as defined by the law) against you and/or your children or that you are in immediate danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence.1

You are required to go to the court hearing. If you find out you absolutely cannot attend, you must contact the court clerk immediately and ask how you can get a "continuance" for a later court date.  However, continuances are normally not granted.  If the petitioner does not show up, generally the temporary injunction will be dismissed.

At the hearing, you will be asked to testify in court about the abuse and harassment you have experienced. The abuser will also be allowed to be present evidence and testify in the hearing. See the Preparing Your Case section under the Preparing for Court tab at the top of this page for ways you can show the judge that you were abused.

If the abuser does not show up, the court may issue a "default judgment" and you may receive a final injunction against the respondent without him/her being there.  If not, a date for another court hearing may be set.  If another hearing date is set and the judge does not extend the temporary injunction order, you should request that s/he do so before leaving the courtroom.

1 Fla. Stat. § 741.30(6)(a)

After the hearing

Can the abuser have a gun?

Once you get an injunction, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession.  There are a few places where you can find this information:

  • first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in Florida have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
  • second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
  • third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.

You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website

What should I do when I leave the courthouse?

Review the injunction before you leave the courthouse. If something is wrong or missing, you might be able to present your concerns to the judge at that time. If you notice an error after you leave the courtroom or the courthouse, you may want to file legal papers called a “motion for clarification.” You may want to consult with an attorney for help with this.

  • The clerk of court will give you at least two certified copies of the order. You may want to make several more copies of the injunction as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the injunction with you at all times.
  • Leave copies of the injunction at your work place, at your home, at the children's school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser.
  • Give a copy of the injunction to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks and your phone number if permitted by law.
  • Be aware of your safety while leaving the courthouse. If you are concerned that the abuser may try to approach you, contact a court officer to see if you can be accompanied to your car.

Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the injunction. People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school. Many abusers obey injunctions, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe. View our Safety Tips page for some suggestions. Advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support. For a list of domestic violence centers, see our FL Advocates and Shelters page.

What can I do if the judge doesn't give me an injunction?

You can try to talk to a domestic violence advocate to find out what the problem was. It might just be something wrong in the paperwork. If possible, ask the clerk if you can correct the problem and re-submit the petition. If the judge found that you did not have any allegations of domestic violence (according to its legal definition), you can always reapply if another incident happens.

If you didn’t already have a lawyer, it may be necessary at this point to contact a lawyer to get specific advice on your situation. You will find contact information for legal assistance on the FL Finding a Lawyer page of this website.

You may want to view our Safety Tips page as well, for other ways you can increase your safety.

What can I do if the abuser violates the injunction?

You can call the police right away. Tell the police that you have an injunction for protection against domestic violence. Make sure you have a copy of the injunction to show the police when they arrive. When the police arrive, you can tell them what happened and that you want the abuser to be arrested. Violation of an injunction can be a misdemeanor in the first degree or a felony of the third degree if it is violated three or more times against the same victim.1

If the injunction is violated but the abuser is not arrested, you can report the violation to the clerk's office in the circuit court in the county where the violation occurred, which may be a different courthouse than the one that gave you the injunction. The clerk will help you take the appropriate steps to file a violation petition to enforce your injunction. Your affidavit (sworn statement) will then be sent to law enforcement and the state attorney for further action.2  

The civil court judge can also hold the abuser in contempt of court.  Even if there is ultimately no criminal prosecution for the violation, the civil court judge can order that the abuser go to batterers’ treatment program and you can be awarded money damages for an injury or loss that you suffer as a result of the violation (including your attorney’s fees and court costs).2  For a list of courthouses, go to FL Courthouse Locations.

1 Fla. Stat. § 741.31(4)(a),(c)
2 Fla. Stat. §§ 741.31(5),(6); 741.30(9)(a)

Is my injunction still valid if I move?

Your final injunction and temporary ex parte injunction are good where ever you go in Florida.

Additionally, the federal law provides what is called "full faith and credit," which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order (like an injunction for protection), it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands.1 Different states have different rules for enforcing out-of-state protection orders. Because a temporary ex parte injunction is given based only on your information and the abuser did not have an opportunity to be heard, there may be limitations on the enforcement of a temporary ex parte injunction in another state.

If you are moving out of state, you may want to call a domestic violence organization or the State Coalition in the state where you are going to find out how that state treats out-of-state orders.

Remember to take a certified copy of your injunction with you when you move.

If you are moving to a new state, you may also call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2 ) for information on enforcing your order there.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265

What if the abuser is in the military?

Civil protective orders are supposed to be enforceable by military officials on military installations.  Please see our Military Protective Orders page for more information.

 

How do I change the injunction?

If you want to change your injunction, you must go back to circuit court and ask the clerk for the forms to amend (change) your injunction. You may have to have another hearing in court.

My order is going to expire soon. Can I extend it?

If your injunction for protection against domestic violence is soon going to expire, you can ask the court for an extension of the order before it expires. You would file your motion for an extension in the circuit court clerk’s office. You will probably have to fill out a petition similar to the one you filled out for the original order. Each time you ask for an extension, it can be extended up to one year. The judge has broad discretion when deciding whether to grant an extension after considering the circumstances of why you want it. You do NOT have to allege new incidents of violence1 but you should be prepared to explain why you still need protection.

1 See Fla. Stat. § 741.30(6)(c)

What can I do to be safe besides getting an injunction?

You may be able to file criminal charges against the abuser, depending on the circumstances.  You can do this by going to the police station.  Be aware, however, that if you later decide not to pursue your complaint, the state of Florida will not necessarily drop the criminal charges.  Unlike an injunction, which is considered a private matter, a criminal charge is considered a public offense.  The state may decide to prosecute the accused abuser even if you are no longer interested in taking action.

Whether or not you decide to get an injunction, you should consider making a plan for your safety.  See our Safety Tips page for more information.

Injunctions for Protection Against Repeat Violence, Dating Violence, or Sexual Violence

Aside from injunctions for protection against domestic violence, Florida has three other injunctions for victims of physical or sexual violence:

  1. injunctions for protection against repeat violence;
  2. injunctions for protection against dating violence; and
  3. injunctions for protection against sexual violence.

However, these three injunctions are only for people who do not qualify for an​ injunction for protection against domestic violence.

Basic info and definitions

What is an injunction against repeat violence? Who qualifies for one?

You may file for an injunction against repeat violence against anyone who has committed at least two "acts of violence" against you or a member of your "immediate family." One of those two acts of violence must have occurred within the last six months.1 You can file on behalf of your minor child only if the child still lives at home and you are his/her parent or legal guardian.2

Any of the following acts are considered "acts of violence":

Note: If you have a child in common with the abuser or if s/he is a family or household member, you would not file for an injunction against repeat violence. Instead, you would have to file for an injunction for protection against domestic violence.4

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.046(1)(b)
2 Fla. Stat. § 784.046(2)(a)
3 Fla. Stat. § 784.046(1)(a)
4 See Petition for injunction against repeat violence - Instructions

What is an injunction against dating violence? Who qualifies for one?

You may file for an injunction against dating violence if you have reasonable cause to believe that you are in immediate danger of becoming the victim of an act of dating violence by someone with whom you have or had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature within the past six months. You can file for the injunction if this person already committed an act of dating violence against you in the past (and you fear that s/he will commit another act of violence) or if you have not yet been the victim but you believe that you are in immediate danger of becoming one. You can file on behalf of your minor child only if the child still lives at home and you are his/her parent or legal guardian.1

Any of the following would be considered an "act of violence":

Note: If you have a child in common with the abuser or if you live with him/her or if you have lived with him/her in the past, you would not file for an injunction against dating violence. Instead, you would have to file for an injunction for protection against domestic violence.3

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.046(1)(b), (2)(b)
2 Fla. Stat. § 784.046(1)(a)
3 See Petition for injunction for protection against dating violence - Instructions

What is an injunction against sexual violence? Who qualifies for one?

You may file for an injunction against sexual violence if you are the victim of sexual violence committed by someone with whom you do not have a child in common and who is not a family or household member. If your minor child was a victim of sexual violence, you can file on behalf of your minor child only if s/he still lives at home and you are the parent or legal guardian.1

Sexual violence is defined as any of the following:

However, to be eligible to file a petition for an injunction against sexual violence, one of the following must be true:

  1. you reported the incident of violence to the police or other law enforcement agency and you are cooperating in any criminal proceeding that has come about due to your report to law enforcement; or
  2. the abuser (respondent) was already sentenced to state prison for the sexual violence and either:
    • the respondent completed his/her term of imprisonment; or
    • s/he is going to be released within the next 90 days after you filed the petition.2

If you reported the incident of sexual violence to the police (as mentioned in #1, above), it does not matter if criminal charges based on the incident are ever actually filed or not. Furthermore, if charges are filed, you can still file for an injunction even if the charges are later reduced or dismissed by the prosecutor.3

Note: If you have a child in common with the abuser or if s/he is a family or household member, you would not file for an injunction against sexual violence. Instead, you would have to file for an injunction for protection against domestic violence.4

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.046(1)(c)
2 Fla. Stat. § 784.046(2)(c)
3 Fla. Stat. § 784.046(2)(c)(1)
4 See Petition for injunction against sexual violence - Instructions

What types of orders are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of orders, a temporary ex parte injunction that is issued without the abuser being notified beforehand or present in court, and a final injunction that is issued after a hearing where both parties are notified and can appear in court.

When you file your petition, you can get a temporary ex parte injunction if the judge believes that an immediate and present danger of violence exists. The temporary ex parte injunction generally lasts for up to 15 days, until the court holds a hearing to decide whether or not to issue a final injunction. If the respondent is in prison when the order is issued, it will last for 15 days after s/he is released.1 At the hearing for the final injunction, both sides have the opportunity to come to court and present evidence to the judge. If the judge grants a final injunction, it will last for a specific period of time that will be determined by the judge.2 You can also apply to extend the final injunction but the motion must be filed before the injunction expires.

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.046(6)(a), (6)(c)
2 See, for example, Petition for injunction for protection against repeat violence - Instructions

Getting the injunction

What protections can I get in an injunction against dating, repeat, or sexual violence?

In a temporary ex parte injunction and in a final injunction, the law says that judge can grant whatever protections the judge believes are "proper," which includes prohibiting the respondent from committing any acts of violence.1 The injunction petition is more specific and allows you to request in a final injunction for protection against dating, repeat, or sexual violence that the judge prohibit the respondent from:

  • committing any acts of violence against you;
  • going to your home (or any place where you are living), your work, your school, and any place where you or your immediate family have to go to often;
  • coming within 500 feet of your home (or any place where you are living), your work, your school, and any place where you or your immediate family have to go to often;
  • contacting you by telephone, mail, email, in writing, through another person, or in any other manner;
  • using or having any guns or firearms;
  • intentionally coming within 100 feet of your car (motor vehicle); and
  • doing anything else that could make you or your immediate family unsafe.2

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.046(6)(a), (7)
2 See, for example, Petition for injunction for protection against dating violence - Instructions

What are the steps for getting an injunction against repeat violence, dating violence, and sexual violence?

The clerk of the circuit court will provide you with forms and instructions for filing any of these petitions. You can also find them online on our FL Download Court Forms page. The filing process will be similar to the process described in Steps for getting an injunction for protection against domestic violence.

There is no fee to file for the injunction or to have law enforcement serve it. In addition, if you request it, you can be notified within 12 hours of when the sheriff or other law enforcement officer serves the injunction upon the respondent.1

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.046(3)(b) & (5)

What are the penalties for violating an injunction against repeat violence, sexual violence, or dating violence?

A person who violates an injunction for protection against repeat violence, sexual violence, or dating violence can be committing a misdemeanor of the first degree.1 A misdemeanor of the first degree may be punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.2 However, it can be a felony of the third degree if the abuser has two or more convictions for violation of an injunction or foreign protection order and then violates this order against the same victim.1 A felony of the third degree may be punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.3

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.047
2 Fla. Stat. §§ 775.082(4)(a); 775.083(1)(d)
3 Fla. Stat. §§ 775.082(3)(e); 775.083(1)(c)

Injunctions for Protection Against Stalking/Cyberstalking

An injunction for protection against stalking/cyberstalking can be obtained against anyone, regardless of your relationship to him/her.

Basic information

What is the legal definition of stalking in Florida?

This section defines stalking for the purpose of getting an injunction.

According to Florida’s criminal law, stalking is defined as when someone willfully (intentionally), maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person.1 Below you will find the definitions of the emboldened terms:

  1. Harassment is when someone commits a series of acts over a period of time against you, which causes you to have substantial emotional distress (and the acts serve no legitimate purpose).2
  2. Cyberstalking is when someone commits a series of acts that communicate (or cause to be communicated) words, images, or language through e-mail or other electronic communication that is directed at you, causing you substantial emotional distress (and serving no legitimate purpose).3

Here are some examples listed on the court petition so you can get an idea of what behaviors/acts may qualify someone for an injunction:

  • Previously threatened, harassed, stalked, cyberstalked, or physically abused the petitioner;
  • Threatened to harm the petitioner or family members or individuals closely associated with the petitioner;
  • Intentionally injured or killed a family pet;
  • Used, or threatened to use, against the petitioner any weapons such as guns or knives; and
  • Destroyed personal property, including, but not limited to, telephones or other communication equipment, clothing, or other items belonging to the petitioner.4

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.048(2)
2 Fla. Stat. § 784.048(1)(a),(b)
3 Fla. Stat. § 784.048(1)(d)
4 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(3)(d)

What types of injunctions for protection against stalking are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of injunctions – an ex parte temporary injunction and a final injunction issued after notice to the respondent and a hearing.

If the judge believes that you have been stalked and/or that there is an immediate and present danger of stalking, the judge may grant you an immediate ex parte order.1 In the ex parte order, the judge can include any terms in the order that the judge thinks is proper, including ordering the respondent to not commit any act of stalking against you.2 An ex parte order is good for up to 15 days until there can be a full hearing where the respondent has the opportunity to be present in court and fight against a final order being issued.3

A final injunction can last forever, or until either the petitioner or respondent comes back to court to ask that it be changed (modified) or cancelled (dissolved). Either party can file at any time to modify or dissolve the injunction.4

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(5)(a),(b)
2 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(5)(a)
3 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(5)(c)
4 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(6)(b)

What protections can I get in an injunction for protection against stalking?

In an ex parte temporary injunction, the judge can:

  • order the respondent to not commit any act of stalking against you;
  • include any terms in the order that the judge thinks is necessary for your protection;
  • include any orders directed at law enforcement.1

In a final injunction, the judge can:

  • order all of the protections listed above; and
  • order the respondent to participate in treatment, intervention, or counseling services to be paid for by the respondent.2

Note: The judge may also refer you (the petitioner) to appropriate services by giving you a list of certified stalking centers, certified rape crisis centers, and other appropriate referrals in your area which you may contact.2

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(3)(e),(5)(a)
2 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(6)(a)

Where can I file for an injunction for protection against stalking?

You can file a petition for an injunction for protection against stalking in the circuit court located in the circuit where you currently live (even if it’s only a temporary residence), where the respondent lives, or where the stalking occurred.1

To look for the location of the courthouse near you, go to our FL Courthouse Locations page.  Note: There is no minimum requirement of residency to petition for an injunction for protection.1

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(1)(f)

The injunction process

Who can apply for an injunction for protection against stalking?

The following people can apply for an injunction for protection against stalking:

  1. a stalking victim can file for an injunction for himself/herself; and/or
  2. the parent/legal guardian of a minor child who is living at home can file fo an injunction for protection against stalking on behalf of the minor child.1

You can file against anyone who is stalking you, regardless of your relationship to that person2 as long as you meet the definition of someone who is being stalked, according to the law.  See What is the legal definition of stalking in Florida? for more information.

The injunction petition is filed in the circuit court.  See Where can I file for an injunction for protection against stalking? for more information about where to file.

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(1)(a)
2 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(1)(c)

Is there a minimum amount of time that I must live in Florida before I can file for an injunction?

No, there is no minimum requirement of residency for you to meet before you file a petition for an injunction for protection against stalking in Florida. You also have the option of filing the petition in the county where the respondent lives, or where the stalking occurred instead of in the county where you currently live.1 This might be the best option for you if you have moved to a new county and the stalker does not know what county you are living in.

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(1)(f)

How much does it cost? Do I need a lawyer?

There is no fee to file a petition for protection against stalking.1  You do not need a lawyer to file for one or to defend yourself if someone files against you2 but it may be helpful to have one, especially if the other party has one or if the case goes to trial.  For free and paid legal referrals, go to our FL Finding a Lawyer page.  If you are going to be representing yourself, you can find tips for what to expect in court and how to prepare yourself on our Preparing Your Case page.

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(2)(a)
2 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(1)(d)

Can I bring an advocate with me to court for support?

Yes. The law allows you to bring an advocate from a state attorney's office, a law enforcement agency, a certified rape crisis center, or a certified stalking center with you during any court proceedings related to the injunction for protection against stalking.1

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(7)

Steps for getting an injunction for protection against stalking

Step 1: Go to the courthouse and get the necessary forms.

You can file a petition for an injunction for protection against stalking in the circuit court located in the circuit where you currently live (even if it’s only a temporary residence), where the respondent lives, or where the stalking occurred.1  Go to the clerk's office to get the forms that you need.  To look for the location of the courthouse near you, go to our FL Courthouse Locations page.

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(1)(f)

Step 2: Fill out the forms.

You will likely have to give the following information when you apply for an injunction:

  1. The respondent’s current address and last known place of employment;
  2. The respondent’s date of birth and a physical description of him/her;
  3. Any aliases (other names) that s/he uses;
  4. A list of any other current court cases involving you and the respondent; and
  5. A list of any other times you applied for an injunction against the respondent and what happened in those cases - (case numbers should be included, if available).1

The form will ask you to give a detailed description of the facts and circumstances about the stalking and your reasons for seeking protection.

Read the petition carefully and ask questions if you don't understand something. The clerk may be able to provide some type of assistance but cannot tell you what to write or advise you.2 Describe in detail how the respondent stalked or cyberstalked you. Be specific. Include details and dates, if possible.

Do not sign the form until you have shown it to a clerk. The form may have to be signed in front of a notary public, clerk or a judge at the courthouse. If the paperwork asks for your address and you are afraid that giving your address will put you in danger, tell the clerk. S/he will help you fill out a form to ask the court to allow you to keep your address a secret. Note: The clerk is supposed to try to protect your privacy as much as possible while you are completing the forms for an injunction for protection against stalking.

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(3)(b),(c)
2 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(2)(c)(1)
3 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(2)(c)(3)

Step 3: A judge will review your petition and may give you an ex parte temporary order.

When you turn in your petition to the clerk, the clerk will send it to the judge for review. If it appears to the judge that stalking exists or that there is an immediate and present danger of stalking, the judge can give you a temporary ex parte injunction, which will last until the full hearing (approximately 15 days). The judge is supposed to set the hearing date at the earliest possible time.1

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(4),(5)(a),(b)

Step 4: Service of process

In order to serve the papers on the respondent, the clerk will give a copy of the petition, notice of hearing, and temporary injunction to the sheriff or a law enforcement agency in the county where the respondent lives or where s/he can be found.  Then the sheriff or other law enforcement officer will serve it upon the respondent as soon as possible, any day of the week and at any time of the day or night.1 

Another option for service, if you request it in court, is that you can give a certified copy of the order to law enforcement yourself and accompany/assist the officer who serves it on the respondent.2  To find contact information for your local sheriff, go to our FL Sheriff Departments page.

Note: The clerk of the court should give you two certified copies of the order of injunction and there will be a paper that explains what the procedure is for serving (and enforcing) the order.3

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(8)(a)(1)
2 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(8)(a)(2)
3 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(2)(c)(4)

Step 5: The hearing

When you are requesting a final injunction for protection, you must prove that the respondent has committed an act of stalking (as defined by the law) against you.

You are required to go to the court hearing.  If you find out you absolutely cannot attend, you must contact the court clerk immediately and ask how you can get a "continuance" for a later court date.  However, continuances are normally not granted.  If the petitioner does not show up, generally the temporary injunction will be dismissed.

At the hearing, you will be asked to testify in court about the stalking you have experienced. The respondent will also be allowed to be present evidence and testify in the hearing.  See the Preparing Your Case section under the Preparing for Court tab at the top of this page for ways you can show the judge that you were stalked.

If the respondent does not show up, the court may issue a "default judgment" and you may receive a final injunction against the respondent without him/her being there.  If not, a date for another court hearing may be set.  If another hearing date is set and the judge does not extend the temporary injunction, you should request that s/he do so before leaving the courtroom.

After the hearing

What should I do when I leave the courtroom?

Review the injunction before you leave the courthouse.  If something is wrong or missing, you might be able to present your concerns to the judge at that time.  If you notice an error after you leave the courtroom or the courthouse, you may want to file legal papers called a “motion for clarification.” You may want to consult with an attorney for help with this.

  • The clerk of court will give you at least two certified copies of the injunction.  You may want to make several more copies of the injunction as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the injunction with you at all times.
  • Leave copies of the injunction at your work place, at your home, at the children's school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the stalker.
  • Give a copy of the injunction to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks and your phone number if permitted by law.
  • Be aware of your safety while leaving the courthouse.  If you are concerned that the stalker may try to approach you, contact a court officer to see if you can be accompanied to your car.

Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the injunction.  People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, and when they are at home, work, and school.  Many stalkers obey injunctions, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  View our Safety Tips for Stalking Victims page for some suggestions.  Advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.  For a list of domestic violence centers, see our FL Advocates and Shelters page - some of them may assist stalking victims even if the stalking is not part of an intimate relationship.

What can I do if the stalker violates the order?

You can call the police and the stalker can be arrested. Make sure you have a copy of the injunction to show the police when they arrive. A person who violates an injunction can be committing a misdemeanor of the first degree.1 A misdemeanor of the first degree may be punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.2 However, it can be a felony of the third degree if the abuser has two or more convictions for violation of an injunction or foreign protection order and then violates this order against the same victim.1 A felony of the third degree may be punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.3​​

Another option is to file a violation petition in court if the stalker is not arrested. You can report the violation to the clerk's office in the circuit court in the county where the violation occurred, which may be a different courthouse than the one that gave you the injunction. The clerk will help you take the appropriate steps to file a violation petition to enforce your injunction. Your affidavit (sworn statement) will then be sent to law enforcement and the state attorney for further action.4

The judge can hold the stalker in contempt of court or the state attorney can prosecute a violation as a criminal violation.5 Also, if you suffer an injury or loss as a result of a violation of the injunction for protection against stalking, the court that issued the injunction can award you money damages, including costs and attorney fees for enforcement of the injunction.6

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0487(4)
2 Fla. Stat. §§ 775.082(4)(a); 775.083(1)(d)
3 Fla. Stat. §§ 775.082(3)(e); 775.083(1)(c)​
4 Fla. Stat. § 784.0487(1), (2)
5 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(9)(a)
6 Fla. Stat. § 784.0487(5)

How do I change the injunction?

Either you or the respondent can file in court at any time to modify (change) or dissolve (dismiss) the injunction.1 The judge will decide, after hearing both sides, whether or not to take the action requested.

1 Fla. Stat. § 784.0485(6)(b),(10)

What can I do to be safe besides getting an injunction?

You may be able to file criminal stalking charges against the stalker depending on the circumstances.  You can do this by going to the police station.  Be aware that if you file a criminal complaint, if you later decide not to pursue your complaint, the state of Florida will not necessarily drop the criminal charges.  Unlike an injunction, which is considered a private matter, a criminal charge is considered a public offense.  The state may decide to prosecute the accused stalker even if you are no longer interested in taking action.

Whether or not you decide to get an injunction, you should consider making a plan for your safety.  See our Safety Tips for Stalking Victims page for more information.

Risk Protection Orders (to remove firearms)

A risk protection order restricts a respondent's access to guns and ammunition in certain situations to protect him/her and others.

Basic info

What is a risk protection order?

A risk protection order is a civil court order prohibiting an individual (called the respondent) from:

  1. having a firearm or ammunition in his/her custody or control;
  2. purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or ammunition; and
  3. attempting to purchase or receive a firearm or ammunition.1

1 Fla Stat. § 790.401(3)(g)

What types of orders are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of risk protection orders: temporary ex parte orders and extended orders.

Temporary ex parte risk protection orders: The judge can issue a temporary ex parte risk protection order without the respondent having notice of the hearing or being present for the hearing. The judge must consider all of the factors included in the question How will a judge make a decision about whether or not to grant the order? when deciding whether to grant a temporary ex parte risk protection order.1 The judge must issue the order if the judge finds reasonable cause to believe:

  • that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself/herself or others in the near future by:
    • having in his/her custody or control; or
    • purchasing, possessing, or receiving, a firearm or ammunition.

The respondent must be served with the order and have an opportunity to request that the judge vacate (dismiss) the order.2 The temporary ex parte risk protection order will last until the hearing on the risk protection order.3

Extended risk protection orders: The judge can extend a risk protection order if:

  • the petitioner files a motion (request) to have the order extended; and
  • the judge finds by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent continues to pose a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself/herself or others in the near future,
  • by having in his/her custody or control, or by purchasing, possessing, or receiving, a firearm or ammunition.

The judge can issue the extended order for a period of time that the judge thinks is needed but no longer than 12 months.4

1 Fla Stat. § 790.401(4)(a),(b)
2 Fla Stat. § 790.401(4)(c)
3 Fla Stat. § 790.401(4)(f)
4 Fla Stat. § 790.401(3)(b)

Who can file for a risk protection order?

Only a law enforcement officer or agency can file for a risk protection order.1

If you are a person who is concerned about the safety of someone else but cannot file to have his/her firearms removed, you may be able to speak to a law enforcement officer or agency to let them know of your concern and ask that they file for a risk protection order to have the firearms removed.

1 Fla Stat. § 790.401(2)(a)

Getting the order

How do I get a risk protection order?

A law enforcement officer or agency must be the one who files for the risk protection order.1 The law enforcement officer or agency who files the petition must inform the respondent’s family or household members and any third party who could be at risk of violence about the petition and any appropriate resources and referrals.2 The petition for a risk protection order must claim that:

  • the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself/herself or others by:
    • having a firearm or any ammunition in his/her custody or control; or
    • purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or any ammunition.

The law enforcement officer or agency’s petition for a risk protection order must also include an affidavit made under oath stating the specific statements, actions, or facts that caused a reasonable fear of significant dangerous acts by the respondent.3

1 Fla Stat. § 790.401(1)(a)
2 Fla Stat. § 790.401(2)(f)
3 Fla Stat. § 790.401(2)(e)(1)

How will a judge make a decision about whether or not to grant the order?

The judge will consider several factors when deciding whether there is a legal reason to grant a risk protection order. The judge will consider any related evidence and whether the respondent:

  • has committed any recent act or threat of violence against himself/herself or others (the violence does not have to involve a firearm);
  • has committed any act or threat of violence in the last 12 months, including violence against himself/herself or others;
  • is seriously mentally ill or has repeated mental health issues;
  • has violated a risk protection order, an injunction for protection against domestic violence, an injunction against repeat, dating, and sexual violence, or an injunction for protection against stalking/cyberstalking;
  • has or previously had a risk protection order, an injunction for protection against domestic violence, an injunction against repeat, dating, and sexual violence, or an injunction for protection against stalking/cyberstalking issued against him/her;1
  • in Florida or any other state, has been convicted of, had “adjudication withheld,” or pleaded no contest to:
    • the crime of domestic violence; or
    • a crime involving violence or a threat of violence. Note: If a respondent has had “adjudication withheld,” this means that the judge has decided it is unjust to require the respondent to serve the penalty allowed by the law and instead can place the respondent on probation.;2
  • has used or threatened to use any weapon on himself/herself or others;
  • illegally or recklessly displayed or waved any firearms;
  • has used or threatened to use physical force against another person; or
  • has stalked another person.

The judge will also consider evidence:

  • of the respondent’s abuse of controlled substances (drugs) or alcohol;
  • of the respondent recently getting firearms or ammunition;
  • that includes relevant information from family and household members about the respondent; and
  • from witnesses, testifying under oath, about information related to the case.1

1 Fla Stat. § 790.401(c)
2 Fla Stat. §§ 790.401(c); 948.01

What happens if the respondent violates the order?

The respondent could face criminal penalties for violating a risk protection order. The respondent is committing a felony of the third degree if the respondent:

  • has firearms or ammunition in his/her custody or control; or
  • purchases, possess or receives a firearm or ammunition,
  • while having knowledge that a risk protection order has been issued against him/her.1

If the respondent is convicted of a felony of the third degree, s/he could face a prison sentence of up to 5 years and a fine up to $5,000.2

1 Fla Stat. § 790.401(11)(b)
2 Fla Stat. §§ 775.082(3)(e); 775.083(1)(c)

What protections can I get in a risk protection order?

A risk protection order (both an ex parte and a final order) will prohibit the respondent from:

  • having a firearm or ammunition in his/her custody or control,
  • purchasing,
  • possessing,
  • receiving, or
  • attempting to purchase or receive a firearm or ammunition.

A risk protection order will also order that the respondent give up any license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm.1

A risk protection order must also have the following:

  • an explanation of why the order was issued;
  • the date the order was issued;
  • the date the order ends;
  • whether the respondent must complete a mental health evaluation or chemical dependency evaluation;
  • the address of the court where any court paperwork should be filed; and
  • a statement that includes a warning to the respondent to turn firearms and ammunition in to law enforcement.2

1 Fla Stat. § 790.401(7)(a)
2 Fla Stat. § 790.401(3)(g)

Moving with an Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence

If you are moving out of state or are going to be out of the state for any reason, your Florida injunction for protection against domestic violence can still be enforceable.

General rules

Can I get my Florida injunction for protection enforced in another state?

Yes. If you have a valid Florida injunction for protection against domestic violence that meets federal standards, it can be enforced in another state. The Violence Against Women Act, which is a federal law, states that all valid protection orders (called “injunction for protection against domestic violence” in Florida) granted in the United States receive "full faith and credit" in all state and tribal courts within the US, including US territories. See the question below to find out if your injunction qualifies.

Each state must enforce out-of-state orders, in the same way it enforces its own orders. Meaning, if the abuser violates your out-of-state injunction, s/he will be punished according to the laws of whatever state you are in when the order is violated. This is what is meant by "full faith and credit."

How do I know if my injunction (protection order) is good under federal law?

An injunction (protection order) is good anywhere in the United States as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.1
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story. It doesn’t matter if he actually showed up in court; just that he had the opportunity to do so.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled within a "reasonable time" after the order is issued.2

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)(A)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

I have a temporary ex parte order.  Can it be enforced in another state?

Yes. An ex parte temporary order can be enforced in other states as long as it meets the requirements listed in How do I know if my injunction (protection order) is good under federal law?1

Note: The state where you are going generally cannot extend your ex parte temporary order or issue you a permanent order when the temporary one expires. If you need to extend your temporary order, you will have to contact the state that issued the order and arrange to be at the hearing in person or by telephone (if that is an option offered by the court). However, you may be able to reapply for one in the new state that you are moving to if you meet the requirements for getting a protective order in that state – but, if you apply for one in a new state, the abuser would know what state you are living in, which may put you in danger.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(b)(2)

Getting your injunction for protection enforced in another state

How do I get my Florida injunction for protection enforced in another state? 

Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your injunction for protection enforced in another state.

Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid injunction from abuse (order of protection) is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.1 Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state. You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our Advocates and Shelters page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

 

Do I need a special copy of my protection order to get it enforced?

In some states, you will need a certified copy of your injunction. A certified copy says that it is a "true and correct" copy; it is signed and initialed by the clerk of court that gave you the order, and usually has some kind of court stamp on it. A certified injunction from Florida has the word “Certified” stamped on the front page.

If the copy you originally received was not a certified copy, you can go to the courthouse where you were granted the injunction and request a certified copy from the clerk.

Note
: It is generally a good idea to keep a copy of the injunction with you at all times. You will also want to bring several copies of the injunction with you when you move. Leave copies of the injunction at your work place, at your home, at the children's school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on. Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser. Give a copy of the injunction to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.

Can I get someone to help me?  Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to get your protection order enforced in another state.

However, you may want to get help from a local domestic violence advocate or attorney in the state that you move to. A domestic violence advocate can let you know what the advantages and disadvantages are for registering your protection order, and help you through the process if you decide to do so.

To find a domestic violence advocate or an attorney in the state you are moving to, select your state from the drop-down menu on the top left-hand corner of this page, and click on the "Advocates and Shelters" page.

Do I need to tell the court in Florida if I move?

Yes. The court needs to have an address they can reach you at if anything happens in your case. For example, if the abuser asks the court to dismiss the protective order, the court needs your address to let you know this is happening.

Your new address should be kept confidential by the court. You can fill out form 12.980h: Petitioner's Request for Confidential Filing of Address. The clerk of court’s office should have this form available for you to fill out. It is also available on the Florida Courts website here.

Enforcing custody (parenting plan) provisions in another state

I was granted temporary custody (sole responsibility) with my protection order. Can I take my kids out of the state?

Maybe. It may depend on the exact wording of the custody (parenting plan) provision in your injunction. You may have to first seek the permission of the court before leaving. If the abuser was granted visitation rights (time-sharing) with your children, then you may have to have the order changed, or show the court that there is a fair and realistic alternative to the current visitation (time-sharing) schedule. If you intend to move more than 50 miles away (and the abuser doesn’t agree to this), you would need to file a petition to relocate and prove to the court that relocating is in the best interest of your child.1 For more information, see I want to relocate with my child. What steps do I have to take? To read more about custody laws in Florida, go to our FL Custody page.

If you are unsure about whether or not you can take your kids out of the state, it is important to talk to a lawyer who understands domestic violence and custody (parenting plan) laws, and can help you make the safest decision for you and your children. You can find contact information for local domestic violence organizations and legal assistance in the FL area on our FL Places that Help page.

1 F.S.A. § 61.13001

I was granted temporary custody (sole responsibility) with my protection order.  Will another state enforce this custody (parenting plan) order?

Yes. Custody (sole responsibility in a parenting plan), visitation (time-sharing), and child support provisions that are included in an injunction can be enforced across state lines. Law enforcement and courts in another state are required by federal law to enforce these provisions.1 The custody and visitation portion of your injunction is not enforceable, however, if a more recent custody/visitation order has been entered since your injunction was issued.

1 18 USC § 2266

Enforcing your Out-Of-State Order in Florida

If you are planning to move to Florida or are going to be in Florida for any reason, your protection order can be enforced.

General rules for out-of-state orders in Florida

Can I get my out-of-state protection order enforced in Florida? What about the custody provision in my protection order?

Yes. Your protection order can be enforced in Florida as long as it meets the requirements under federal law, explained in How do I know if my injunction (protection order) is good under federal law?

However, if you are trying to enforce a child custody, visitation or child support provision in an out-of-state protection order, this will not be enforced until the order is formally recorded (“domesticated”) in a Florida court,1 which involves taking the order to a court and asking the clerk to file the injunction. There may be a filing fee for domestication. Once the injunction is filed, it is treated as though it was a Florida court decision.2  However, when you domesticate the order, the Florida court clerk will notify the abuser that the injunction has been filed.3 The abuser then has 30 days to contest (fight) Florida's jurisdiction over the injunction.4  You can file a petition to keep your address confidential from the abuser (form 980h “Petitioners Request for Confidential Filing of Address”), but the abuser would still receive the name and address of the courthouse and would know that you are in a particular county of Florida.  This could put your safety in danger.

For more information about what this means, how to domesticate the order and for other alternatives to domestication, please talk to a lawyer in FL who specializes in protection orders and custody matters. You can find a lawyer under the FL Finding a Lawyer page.

1 Fla. Stat. § 741.315(4)(a)
2 Fla. Stat. § 55.503
3 Fla. Stat. § 55.505
4 Fla. Stat. § 55.507

Can I have my out-of-state protection order changed, extended, or canceled in Florida?

No. Only the state that issued your protection order can change, extend, or cancel the order. You cannot have this done by a court in Florida.

To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued. You may be able to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where the abuser is living. To find out more information about how to modify a restraining order, see the Restraining Orders page for the state where your order was issued.

If your order does expire while you are living in Florida, you may be able to get a new one issued in Florida but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred in Florida.  To find out more information on how to get a protective order in Florida, visit our Injunctions for Protection Against Domestic Violence page.

Registering your out-of-state order in Florida

What is the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Registry? Who has access to it?

The National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC) is a nationwide, electronic database used by law enforcement agencies in the U.S, Canada, and Puerto Rico. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.

Before moving to Florida, the state that issued your protection order may already have entered your order into the NCIC. If not, your order should be entered into the NCIC once your order is registered in FL. You may want to call your local sheriff department to find out if your order was entered.

All law enforcement officials have access to the NCIC database, but the information is encrypted so outsiders cannot access it.

How do I register my protection order in Florida?

You can register your protection order by presenting two certified copies to any state sheriff and requesting that it be entered in the Florida injunction registry, which is a database available to all Florida law enforcement officers. You will likely have to sign an affidavit (a sworn statement) that to the best of your knowledge, that the protection order is currently in effect, has not been replaced by another order, and that the abuser has been given a copy of the order.1   The sheriff will assign a case number and give you a receipt showing registration of the foreign order in Florida. There will be no fee for registration of a foreign order.2  To find a sheriff department near you, go to FL Sheriff Departments.

If you need help registering your injunction, you can contact a local domestic violence center in Florida for assistance. You can find contact information for organizations in your area here on our FL Advocates and Shelters page.

1 Fla. Stat. § 741.315(3)(a)
2 Fla. Stat. § 741.315(3)(b)

Do I have to register my protection order in FL in order to get it enforced?

Will the abuser be notified if I register my protection order?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.1  However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to.  It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living.  We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Staying Safe page.  You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our FL Advocates and Shelters page.

1 18 USC § 2265(d)

Does it cost anything to register my protection order?

No. There is no fee for registering your protection order in Florida.1

1 Fla. Stat. § 741.315(3)(b)