If you find yourself in the stressful and likely frightening situation of facing a domestic violence case in some faraway state where you’ve not lived for many years (or never lived at all), you have several options. One option is to ignore the case. This is almost always a terrible choice. While it is true that certain types of judgments from one state cannot reach you in another state, a domestic violence order is possibly much more problematic. Having a domestic violence injunction issued against you, even if it is issued by a court in a state with which you have no contact, can affect your ability to own or possess firearms, your ability to hold certain types of jobs, and potentially your ability to have custody or timesharing with your children, even including your children from other marriages and relationships. Simply ignoring the case will likely do nothing but harm to you. A better option is to retain an experienced Florida domestic violence attorney and litigate your case.
Rabih was a man facing such a case. He, Issrra (his wife), and their three children lived in Ohio until the couple separated, and Issrra and the children moved to Pinellas County. A week and a half after arriving in Florida, the mother filed a request with the court in Pinellas County to enter a domestic violence injunction against the father. Rabih, at that point, faced a problem. He lived in northern Ohio and had lived there for well more than a decade, but he had now been served with court papers regarding a potential domestic violence injunction against him in Florida.
Rabih wisely chose not to ignore his case. He hired Florida counsel, and he won his jurisdiction argument, which meant that Issrra’s case was dismissed. The law gives you the opportunity to argue that a state’s courts do not have personal jurisdiction over you without that appearance and action creating a forfeiture of your jurisdiction argument. In other words, simply hiring a Florida lawyer to go to court and argue that the Florida courts lack personal jurisdiction over you does not amount to your voluntarily submitting to the jurisdiction of Florida.