06 DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The Seventeenth Judicial Circuit of Florida created specialized criminal and civil domestic violence divisions, comprised of four judges and support services to deal exclusively with family violence issues and address these type crimes through the justice system. The criminal domestic violence courts hear criminal felony and criminal misdemeanor cases involving family violence and violation of injunction cases. The civil domestic violence courts, part of the family court division, hear cases regarding the establishment of injunctions for protection against domestic violence, repeat violence, dating violence, sexual violence and stalking. The court mandates accountability, punishment and meaningful treatment. The court may include within injunction orders provisions for time-sharing schedules and child support when the parties have minor children in common. Case managers assist the Court to monitor the progress of parties ordered to receive counseling, treatment or education as a condition of a civil injunction or as a condition of probation. The division judges and support personnel, with the exception of the criminal felony court located in the North wing, are located on the tenth floor of the west wing of the Main Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. Petitions for injunctions may be filed with the clerk of court at the Main Courthouse in room 2140 or at the West Satellite Courthouse.

Domestic Violence Civil Court (Injunction for Protection / Restraining Orders)

The civil domestic violence division judges hear injunction for protection (restraining order) cases. An injunction is a court order that directs a person not to have any contact with another person. It is one legal means of helping protect a person from threats or acts of violence by another person. There are five (5) kinds of civil injunction petitions that can be filed with the Clerk of Courts and heard by the civil domestic violence division judges: Domestic Violence, Repeat Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Violence and Stalking. Each type of injunction has different requirements based on your relationship with the other person and what occurred.

Upon review of a Petition for an Injunction the Court may enter a temporary injunction prohibiting contact between the parties until final hearing. The final hearing is typically scheduled to be conducted within fifteen (15) days of the filing of the Petition.

At a final hearing on a petition for injunction for protection (also known as a return hearing or a permanent injunction hearing), the judge will make a decision as to whether there is sufficient evidence to issue the final injunction. The injunction may include orders in addition to “no contact” provisions such as an award of exclusive use and possession of the home, temporary time sharing and support, provisions to gain access to personal property, surrender of weapons, and appropriate treatment referrals. The judges in the division also hear subsequent motions to modify or dismiss the injunctions once issued, and motions to enforce compliance with court orders (contempt hearings). Motions, which are written requests to the Court to take action in a case, may be filed with Clerk of Court in room 2140 of the main courthouse or through the e-filing portal.

For additional information regarding motions, please contact the Clerk of Court, domestic violence division, at (954) 831-5520 or (954) 831 5579. Judges currently presiding in the Domestic Violence Divisions:

GEOFFREY D. COHEN

Judicial Assistant: Donna Bunsic
Phone Number: (954) 831-7823
Chamber: NW5880
Courtroom: NW5870
Division: FV/GC/57

MICHAEL G. KAPLAN

Judicial Assistant: Shelly Skofstad
Phone Number: (954) 831-1663
Chamber: WW10138
Courtroom: WW10150
Division: 59/57

KATHLEEN MCHUGH

Judicial Assistant: Eva-Tanja Cuthbert
Phone Number: (954) 831-7489
Chamber: WW10133
Courtroom: WW10170
Division: MV/57

TARLIKA NAVARRO

Judicial Assistant: Lisa Tucker
Phone Number: (954) 831-5614
Chamber: WW11137
Courtroom: WW11166/WW10155
Division: 38/63

From the Broward Clerk’s Website you may find the following information useful: Domestic Violence Anyone in immediate danger should call 9 1 1 A petition for domestic violence injunction – sometimes called a restraining order– can be filed by anyone who is the victim of any act of domestic violence (including repeat violence, dating violence and sexual violence) or has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of any act of domestic violence. Florida Statutes outline what a petitioner may seek protection from in various types of petitions:

  • Domestic violence involving spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are or have lived together as a family, or persons who have a child in common. For persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing together or have in the past.
  • Dating violence is between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.
  • Repeat violence involves incidents on two separate occasions, one of which must have occurred within the past six months.
  • Sexual violence involves any incident of sexual battery, lewd or lascivious acts committed on or in the presence of a person younger than 16, luring or enticing a child, sexual performance by a child, or any other forcible felony wherein a sexual act is committed or attempted.

When filing a petition for an injunction, you do not need to be represented by an attorney. As part of the filing process, you will be asked for identification; so be sure to have your driver’s license or other type of identification with you. Currently, filing fees are not required for an injunction petition. Persons seeking to file for a domestic violence injunction should go to one of these offices for the Clerks of Court in Pasco and Pinellas counties.

Judicial Complex West Building Domestic Violence Division

201 SE 6th Street, 2nd Floor, Room: 02140

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Phone Number: 954-831-5570

Hours of Operation: 8:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (filings stop at 5:00 p.m.)

West Regional Courthouse

100 N. Pine Island Road – Room 180

Plantation, FL 33324

Phone Number: 954-831-5612

Hours of Operation: 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (filings stop at 2:00 p.m.) All filings after 2:00 p.m. must be filed at the Broward County Central Courthouse located at 201 SE 6th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 or through the eFiling Portal.

If a Domestic Violence incident (as described above) occurs afterhours please contact 954-463-0911 for after hour procedures.

Domestic Violence

How do I Obtain a Restraining Order for Domestic/Repeat/Dating/Stalking/Sexual Violence?

For information and procedures on obtaining a Restraining Order, call the Domestic Violence Department at 954-831-5570 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. You may contact the Women in Distress hotline for counseling and shelter at 954-761-1133, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You may obtain a Domestic Violence restraining order against a spouse, ex-spouse, or blood relative residing in the same household or any other person you are, or were, residing with as if family. You may also obtain a Restraining Order against a person with whom you had a child, whether you are living together or not.

A Repeat Violence restraining order may be filed by individuals who are not family or household members. There must have been two (2) occurrences or acts of physical violence, and one (1) occurrence must have been in the last six (6) months. The Judge may require you to furnish the police reports as filed.

A Dating Violence restraining order may be filed by individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The dating relationship must have existed within the past 6 months.

A Stalking restraining order maybe filed against any individual, who maliciously and repeatedly follows, harasses and engages in a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time. This restraining order will not address exclusive use of residence/child time sharing or financial support.

A Sexual Violence restraining order may be filed for any one incident of sexual battery, lewd or lascivious act committed upon or in presence of a person younger than 16 years of age, luring or enticing a child, sexual performance by a child or any other forcible felony wherein a sexual act is committed or attempted.

To obtain a Restraining Order, you may eFile your pleadings utilizing the ePortal filing system or appear in person at one of the following Domestic Violence Service Locations, excluding Courthouse Holidays.

Broward County Central Courthouse

Judicial Complex West Building Domestic Violence Division

201 SE 6th Street, 2nd Floor, Room: 02140

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Phone Number: 954-831-5570

Hours of Operation: 8:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (filings stop at 5:00 p.m.)

West Regional Courthouse

100 N. Pine Island Road – Room 180

Plantation, FL 33324

Phone Number: 954-831-5612

Hours of Operation: 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (filings stop at 2:00 p.m.) All filings after 2:00 p.m. must be filed at the Broward County Central Courthouse located at 201 SE 6th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 or through the eFiling Portal.

If a Domestic Violence incident (as described above) occurs afterhours please contact 954-463-0911 for after hour procedures.

You should have a photo I.D. with signature.

A police report is not required to file a Domestic/Dating/Repeat or Stalking restraining order (Injunction); however, if you have a Police Report, please bring it with you. The Domestic Violence Unit will provide the forms and assist you with filling out the paperwork. The case file will then be reviewed by the assigned Judge. It is recommended that you come as early as possible as the process could be lengthy depending on Judge availability.

The Clerk’s hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, however, if a Domestic Violence incident (as described above) occurs afterhours please contact 954-463-0911 for after hour procedures.

In the interest of safety it is suggested that you seek safe shelter throughout this process as your safety is the most important factor.

If the restraining order (Injunction) is granted there will be a hearing in 15 days or less. Children are usually not allowed in the courtrooms.

What is the Pro Se Self Help Unit?

The Pro Se Self Help Unit, located at Broward County Central Courthouse, Judicial Complex West Building, Domestic Violence Division, 201 SE 6th Street, 2nd Floor, Room: 02140, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 and provides local and Florida Supreme Court approved Family Law Forms for a fee to those who choose to represent themselves or cannot afford an attorney. Forms for divorce, paternity, timesharing/visitation, stepparent adoption, custody by extended family and other various forms may be purchased between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The pro se self-help staff does not provide legal advice.

The Florida Supreme Court offers free access to the approved Family Law Forms at www.flcourts.org. Click on self-help, then Family Law Forms.

What happens after I eFile my Petition on a Domestic Violence matter?

After an E-Filed petition has been accepted, the Petition is forwarded to the judge for ruling. The decision is made the same day and Petitioner/Counsel is responsible for obtaining a copy of the ruling along with all associated documents. The Domestic Violence office is located at Broward County Central Courthouse, Judicial Complex West Building, 201 SE 6th Street, 2nd Floor, Room: 02140, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 and is open until 7:00PM Monday through Friday so Petitioner’s may obtain the judicial ruling. The Domestic Violence office, located at 100 N. Pine Island Road, Plantation, Florida is open until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday so the petitioner may obtain the judicial ruling in cases filed at that location. Filing of petitions for injunction ends at 5:00pm Monday through Friday per administrative order 2016-5-UFC.