What is a ‘De Facto Domestic Injunction’ and How Can it Hurt Me in My Florida Divorce Case?

One recent Southwest Florida case included a “de facto” domestic violence injunction, and served as a reminder to anyone going through a divorce, especially a hotly contested one, that things can always take unexpected turns. You can’t always expect the unexpected, but you can prepare for it and safeguard yourself from an unexpected and potentially damaging twist in your divorce case by having a knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney on your side from the start.

Do you know what a “de facto domestic violence injunction” is? Probably not, as almost no one outside a certain set of lawyers would even be loosely familiar with the phrase. It’s very important to know that, if a court that was deciding your divorce case issued such a de facto domestic violence injunction, it would be just as serious as a “regular” domestic violence injunction.

So, what exactly does a de facto domestic violence injunction look like? In that extremely contentious case from Collier County, it involved a divorce judgment that, in Paragraph 19, said that “the Husband shall not come on or about the Wife’s place of employment. The Husband shall not come on or about the Wife’s residence, unless he has been specifically invited by the Wife, in writing, and for the sole purpose of delivering the children into her care. The Husband shall not come within 100 feet of the Wife’s motor vehicle.”

Imagine being that husband and not having a lawyer. You might say about the judge, “Wait… can she do that?” Without adequate legal counsel, you might assume that, although you didn’t see it coming, the judge was free to do that and that your case was hopeless. You may have even heard some people talk about how judges have something called “broad discretion” to order whatever they think they should order.

There are limits to what a judge can order in your divorce case

If you thought that, you’d be mistaken. As a knowledgeable Florida lawyer would tell you, a judge’s discretion in making orders is not absolute. There are certain things they cannot do. As one example, in most circumstances, the law does not allow a judge to give a party an outcome (“relief”) if that party did not properly ask for that relief.

When it comes to domestic violence injunctions, Florida has a very specific set of standards, both in terms of the procedural process that the alleged victim has to follow and the evidence that the alleged victim has to give the court. The alleged victim has to file a proper petition in the trial court correctly requesting an injunction against domestic violence. Furthermore, the alleged abuser must receive proper notice of the injunction the alleged victim is seeking. The alleged victim has to demonstrate, with sufficient evidence, that she was a victim of domestic violence or was in imminent danger of being a domestic violence victim.

Almost none of those things happened in this Collier County husband’s case, which was why the husband’s appellate lawyers were able to get this de facto domestic violence injunction thrown out. There was no evidence that the wife went through the proper procedure for asking for an injunction and there was no evidence that the husband was on notice that he was at risk of having a domestic violence injunction entered against him. When those things are true, the court doesn’t have the legal authority to issue a domestic violence injunction because to do so would be a violation of the husband’s due process rights.

Your divorce case has the potential to come with all kinds of completely unexpected twists and turns. Be prepared for whatever may happen by having reliable and effective legal counsel on your side. Count on the skilled South Florida divorce attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. to protect your rights and help you get a fair outcome from your divorce case. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.