Unified Family Court
The Unified Family Court Division handles: Dissolution Of Marriage, Child Custody And Support, URESA, Name Changes, Adoptions, Paternity Suits, Modification Proceedings, Support Without Dissolution, etc.
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Unified Family – Domestic Violence
The Domestic Violence Division and Juvenile Division makes up the Unified Family Court.
The Domestic Violence Division handles and coordinates all restraining orders for domestic and repeat violence, as well as misdemeanor and felony domestic violence criminal proceedings.
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 this type of crime 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.
Unified Family – Juvenile
The Juvenile Division is divided into two divisions: Delinquency and Dependency.
Delinquency cases are juvenile criminal cases. Dependency are cases dealing with juveniles who are abandoned, abused or neglected by parents or other custodians, surrendered for the purpose of adoption, or who are persistent runaways, habitually truant or ungovernable.