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How a Restraining Order Can Affect Your Divorce and Your Future

Aug 17, 2008
A typical day in Florida courts: A couple is at the end of their rope and starts to consider divorce. Both spouses begin to think about things they never bothered with before. How can I get the house to myself? How can I make sure I win custody of the children? After seeking advice from friends, lawyers, and Internet sources, they quickly realize how to score an early win: by filing a Domestic Violence Injunction, known by most people as a Restraining Order.

The next few steps happen quickly and can have a devastating affect on the intended target. In Florida it is fast and free to file a restraining order (domestic violence injunction). All it takes is a trip to the courthouse, completion of a quick and easy form, and one hour later a judge may decide to sign what is officially known as an order of protection against domestic violence. Within 48 hours, a sheriff is dispatched to serve the restraining order on the respondent. At this point it is critical to look for a domestic violence attorney.

Right after the injunction paperwork is served a series of events begins to unfold. Most important: it now becomes a criminal offense to approach, call, or communicate in any way with your spouse. If you are served with this order, you must immediately move out of the marital home. The emphasis is on the word "immediately." You have time to take your toothbrush, underwear, some clothing, and medications. Everything else you own is now in the forbidden zone, illegal to remove or touch until further word from a judge.

If you have children, chances are the restraining order grants temporary custody to the spouse that filed the petition. In this case, temporary custody means sole custody of the children. Until a judge decides the issue you won't have any contact with your children. You may be ordered to pay child support and/or alimony.

The effect of the Restraining Order can have a devastating effect on your entire life. If you communicate with your spouse, your children, or come too close to your house there is a chance the police will arrest you and file criminal charges against you for violating the injunction. On top of this the state attorneys office may decide to file criminal domestic violence charges against you. Within 2 weeks of the initial restraining order (domestic violence injunction), a judge will hold a hearing to decide whether the order is permanent or temporary.

After the events unfold, it will be time to consider the effect on your upcoming divorce. The black and white truth: a restraining order can eliminate your chances at ever gaining custody of your children. Alimony that is ordered within an injunction hearing may become an order within the divorce. If you end up with a criminal record it can severely alter your prospects no matter what is at issue in the divorce.

The moral of the story: a restraining order (domestic violence injunction) is not a do it yourself case. Your rights to your children, your property, and your freedom may be changed for the rest of your life. Get the best help you can afford. Your future may depend on it.
About the Author
Howard Iken is a Tampa Florida Custody Attorney, Divorce, and Custody Attorney in Tampa Florida. He is the managing partner of The Divorce Center, a firm of dedicated Tampa Florida Divorce Attorneys that practice in all divorce and custody related matters. He can be reached at 1-888-469-3486 .
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