The Wide Spectrum of Relationships in Florida that May Qualify as ‘Dating’ in an Injunction Against Dating Violence Case

There are injunctions that protect against spousal violence and there are injunctions that protect against dating violence. However, you may wonder, “What if my attacker/stalker is someone with whom I had a relationship but, we were never married and we never really ‘dated,’ so to speak? Am I out of luck when it comes to getting this kind of protection?” The answer, fortunately, is “no.” These injunctions can apply to a variety of people and relationships, so if you’re being threatened, never assume that you can’t get protection; always talk to an experienced South Florida family law attorney first.

A case originating from the Tallahassee area gives a good illustration of how many different relationships can be the subject of an injunction against dating violence. T.S. and L.T. were a couple who met via the Internet site Craigslist. Based upon the description contained in the First District Court of Appeal’s opinion, this pair appeared to have what many might call a “friends with benefits” relationship. According to the man, the pair never actually went out anywhere together. Instead, over the four-year span of their on-again-off-again relationship, they got together mostly for sex. If one person began dating someone else, they’d cease their relationship, and then resume their couplings once that outside dating situation ended.

When the woman finally broke up for the last time, the man allegedly contacted her on social media, called her, texted her and “left unpleasant voice messages.” The man also once showed up at the woman’s home without warning and refused to leave until she told him she would call the police if he didn’t go.

On the basis of those things, the woman sought an injunction of protection against dating violence. The man argued that the court could not issue such a protective order because he and the accuser were never in a dating relationship. The man asserted that his relationship with the accuser “was casual and not a ‘dating relationship,’” that the two “had never gone anywhere ‘together’” and that “their relationship was mainly for sex.” That, he argued, meant that they did not meet the definition of “dating.”

The relationship needs only to have been ‘continuous, significant and intimate’

The appeals court explained that this was not a correct interpretation of the statute. The law that protects against dating violence covers more than just couples who go to dinner and the movies, attend concerts and shows together or who hold hands while shopping together at Publix. Instead, the statute is very clear that if two people shared something that was “continuous, significant, and intimate.” then their relationship meets the law’s standards.

This couple’s relationship was plainly continuous (lasting over four years) and intimate. It was also significant enough that, when it ended, the man (despite his assertions that the situation was “casual,”) went to great lengths to try to maintain contact with the woman. Based on that evidence, the trial judge was correct in finding that these two people had a qualifying relationship under the law.

If you have been stalked, threatened or attacked by someone with whom you had a relationship, whether that person was your live-in partner, your “steady” boyfriend/girlfriend or just your semi-regular “hook-up” partner whom you met on OkCupid, you may be entitled to an injunction of protection if you have sufficient proof that you are in “danger of imminent harm.” To give yourself the best opportunity to get that protection you certainly need, talk to the South Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. Our diligent attorneys have been providing clients with reliable representation for many years as they seek to obtain (or seek to oppose) injunctions against dating violence. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.