Articles Posted in Domestic Violence / Injunctions

Coronavirus-1-300x123Couples fight and argue. Families get into disagreements. Roommates can’t get along. But, in some cases, these conflicts rise to the level that violence between people is dangerous and needs intervention. Our recent situation, where families, roommates, neighbors, and others are confined to their living spaces for elongated time periods highlight for many that their homes are not safe places for themselves or the people around them. It’s another serious dilemma facing us all as schools who watch over the safety of children are closed, and those who suffer feel as though they must suffer in silence, because there is no place that is safe for them to go.

Unfortunately, as liquor stores are considered “essential businesses” and many individuals face economic stress as well as fear from the Coronavirus, the climate for domestic violence is warming and becoming dangerous. Many law enforcement agencies have reported lower than normal call logs for assistance in situations of domestic violence, but that does not mean that the incidents themselves are lower, but rather that many who find themselves in a domestic violence situation feel as though there is no where for them to go, or they fear where they will have to go while trying to keep themselves safe during these days of “social distancing.”

If you are experiencing a violent or threatening situation in your home, now is not time to remain quiet. As a community, we are surging in reaching out to others, and being of service to one another in helping to get through this time. Calling law enforcement to report violence, or going to the hospital if you have been injured is not something that you should wait on in hopes that your partner will stop, no matter what they say. If you are being hurt, or threatened, you can go to the local courthouse in your area. In the State of Florida, the Courthouse remains open with a trained staff to help you to file the necessary Petition for Protection Against Domestic Violence, and the judges are reviewing these Petitions and placing temporary Orders for Protection Against Domestic Violence, if legally sufficient, to protect people during these times. At Wood, Atter, & Wolf, P.A., we are also working diligently through this time to help those in need that may need representation to facilitate the filing or advocacy in the courtroom of domestic violence injunctions to keep victims and children safe. As an experienced attorney in the field of domestic violence, knowing whether your situation is one that requires an injunction, and what services may available to help you through this time, is a main priority, as well as ensuring that your home can remain a safe place for you.

Scales-of-Justice-Gold-300x200Domestic Violence is a very serious topic. In fact, many victims of “domestic violence” dislike even using the term, because the reality is that if it were always violent, it would be much easier to detect. The truth is that domestic violence happens in everyday, in every city in the State of Florida and other States. Victims can be male, female, or transgendered. Victims range in age from infants to elderly. So, why is it so difficult to identify whether domestic violence is happening in your home?

Section 741.28, Florida Statutes, aims to solve that problem with a clearly defined law of what domestic violence is: “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.” But the reaches of domestic violence go much further than that. The Florida Association of Domestic Violence identifies that domestic violence is rather a series of threatening and controlling behavior, where one member of a household, or former household, seeks to establish power over or intimidate another. These behaviors are disrespectful, abusive, and harmful. It is the role of an experienced Florida Family Law Attorney that can help you to prepare a Petition for Injunction Against Domestic Violence to protect you and your loved ones from someone trying to threaten your safety.

When you file for a Petition for Injunction Against Domestic Violence, you are asking the court for protection on temporary basis. This may include: removing the abuser from the house, keeping a distance from you and other household members, setting up temporary financial support, and establishing a temporary timesharing agreement for your children. These temporary fixes are limited to no longer than 14 days under Florida Law. After the two weeks, you will have to appear before a Judge, who will decide if you should have longer protection based on how serious and dangerous the situation is and what has happened in the meanwhile. During this time, counseling may be ordered for the abuser, or the victim, which can help to make the situation better. Therapy for the victim can also help to establish a support system for their healing.

Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney

Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.

abuse-264x300.jpgDealing with a domestic violence issue can be challenging and understanding the legal process for getting an injunction or restraining order to protect your from the domestic violence in Jacksonville, Florida can be key. The process does require the filing of a petition by the individual that is the victim of the violence. There are certain criteria for filing and the victim should seek immediate shelter either with a friend, family member or through the Hubbard House or other local domestic violence shelters. The Duval County Clerk of Court website has forms that can be filled out before going downtown to apply for an injunction at the domestic violence department located in the Duval County Courthouse downtown.

Written by: Lenorae Atter, Attorney at Law

First, the Florida legislature changed child custody to “primary timesharing parent” in October, 2008. However, since most of us are familiar with child custody and custody issues, this article will still address the issue as the historic term, “custody.”
As a Jacksonville Florida family law and divorce attorney, dealing with paternity cases and divorces with children, custody issues often arise and the Social Evaluation is an important factor in helping the parents better understand the issues facing the children, and the evaluation assists the judge in having a better understanding and comprehension of what is in the best interest of the children. In Jacksonville and throughout Florida, the social investigation is a component of the case that may be used in its entirety by the judge or may give the judge a basis for a particular ruling. In addition, the evaluation can provide the parties with a stepping-stone or format by which to reach an agreement regarding visitation issues.

The social investigation is conducted by a professional, usually someone with a psychology and law background, and the investigator actually interviews the parents, speaks with witnesses, talks to the kids, look at school records, etc. Once the reviews and statements are completed, the evaluator writes a comprehensive report to demonstrate the findings for each parent, child, and the overall assessment of a parenting plan and recommendations for the court regarding any other matters that should be addressed (i.e. whether counseling is recommended, communication issues, etc.).

So how do you present well in the social investigation? Basically, parties are often concerned that they need to present themselves in a certain light to impress the investigator. However, most of the individuals handing these matters can tell when a party is putting on a show. The idea is not to be fake or phony, but to present your concerns for the children, explain your relationship with the children, and truly identify your wants and needs and the children’s wants and needs before the interview. Being genuine with the investigator is beneficial because it allows the investigator to truly determine any family issues that may need to be addressed, the impact the divorce/separation is actually having on the children and the like. The reason for the investigation is not to berate the parents, but to simply identify what may be in the best interest of the children in the present and in the future.

Extend a mental olive branch to the other party. During your interview with the evaluator, do not destroy the other parent with disparaging remarks. Describe the parts of parenting that the other parent does well and be honest in your comments about the children’s relationship with their other parent. Then share the things that do concern you about the other party, or about the separation of the children. You do not have to make it sound like everyone is great, you’re getting divorced there were issues in the home, so being real about the situation can be helpful in reaching the right conclusion for your case.

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Written by: Lenorae Atter, Attorney at Law

Ammo.jpgDomestic violence issues in Florida and throughout the country can be seen in even the most heinous of crimes. Sometimes, the domestic violence can be a precursor for violence on others, including innocent, unrelated victims. A recent case is the much publicized case involving Jennifer Hudson’s family, but a case that struck many of us throughout the country, the sniper shootings in Virginia, also started with domestic violence. Mildred Muhammad, ex-wife of DC Sniper John Allan Muhammad, gave an interview to Larry King the night before her husband was to be executed for his crimes at a Virginia state prison. Muhammad left 10 dead in a shooting spree that his ex-wife believes was destined to end with her as its final victim.

Ms. Muhammad said she felt very guilty about the victims of her ex-husband’s rampage, which left millions of DC residents fearful of going out in public. She claims that she had done “everything I knew how to do” to bring Mohammad’s violent and abusive nature to the attention of authorities, but it wasn’t enough. And she has expressed feelings of shame for not realizing that his violent behavior would extend beyond her, to affect other people. Like many victims of domestic violence, Ms. Muhammad’s guilt lingers for her inaction, but domestic violence by another does not require the fault of the other spouse or victim, simply behaviors of violence that are so easily exposed by a trigger to the violent person.


In the state of Florida, if a parent has been convicted of misdemeanor, first degree or felony domestic abuse charges, the judge may rule that it is not in the child’s best interest to award custody or time-sharing rights to that parent. The same is true if the parent is in prison for a crime that would warrant terminating parental rights. If a parent is denied parental responsibility by the courts, he or she has the right to ask a judge to consider evidence that might prove that it would not harm the child to allow the parent custody or visitation rights. The court’s job is to look at the fitness of the parents and what is in the best interest of the child. As a Jacksonville divorce and family law attorney I often have parents ask whether they will be granted time-sharing (visitation) or if they have a chance of getting majority time-sharing (custody). When evaluating this question, it is important to look at the historical nature of the family unit, the likelihood of the parent facilitating a good relationship with the child and the other parent, and multiple other factors. When there are reports, accusations or evidence of abuse in the family, then the question of custody is harder to answer because those factors will be considered by the court due to the interest in not putting the children in harm’s way.

If the parent has not been convicted of a domestic violence or child abuse offense, the judge will generally consider evidence of abuse, even if the accusing party has never filed an injunction for protection from domestic violence against them. The judge will use the evidence to determine what type of parental rights the alleged abuser is entitled to. The accused or convicted, may present evidence and testimony to dispute such accusations or to show the judge how things have changed since the incident occurred. If certain activities have been completed, including counseling, then the court may take that into consideration in determining whether there is still a propensity to commit violent acts.

If an abusive parent is awarded visitation rights, the other party may request that the visits be limited or supervised. It will be up to the judge to decide whether or not the abuser represents a risk to the child or the other parent that warrants supervised or restricted visitation. A neutral third party, like the Family Nurturing Center in Jacksonville, Florida, typically does supervised visitation. The center actually observes the visitations and records them for additional protection of the children. If supervised visitation or time-sharing is ordered and over time there are no issues, then the parent observing such time-sharing may ask the court to modify the time-sharing plan to stop the supervision, but the court will again evaluate the case based on the best interest of the child.


Any person who is a victim of domestic violence or has reasonable belief to believe they will become a victim of domestic violence may apply to the Jacksonville Court for a Domestic Violence Injunction pursuant to Florida Statute 741.30. “Domestic violence” is defined by Florida Statute 741.28 as any “assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.” If the injunction is granted then the spouse (or other family member) cannot come with 500 feet of you; he/she must move out of the house and; they will be subject to criminal arrest for either violation. The initial injunction will be temporary (2 weeks), and then the court will schedule a hearing to decide whether the injunction will become permanent or dismissed.

A DV Injunction hearing is similar to a mini trial. The court establishes procedures, hears witness testimony and a court reporter is present. Constitutional rights are at stake at a DV Injunction hearing, so judges tend to be strict on the rules and procedures. The judge also has the power to make determinations on related issues such as child custody, support and visitation, and property. See Section 741.30, Florida Statutes.

Parental kidnapping affects families across the nation. According to The United States Department of Justice, 200,000 children are victims of family abductions per year. Sadly, most people do not realize that domestic violence is the underlying cause in many cases.

When Jacksonville parents/ parents nationwide take their children in domestic violence cases, the kidnapping usually occurs in either of the following scenarios. In one scenario, the batterers take the children in order to harm their victims. In the other, the victims flee with their children in an effort to protect themselves and their children from the batterer’s violence.

Batterers will often use their children as a way to hurt or frighten their former spouse. For example, they may pursue custody or visitation litigation as a means of trying to control their former spouse. In addition, they may use the custody proceedings to obtain more information about their former spouse, to continue to monitor them or to perpetrate additional violence.

Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney

Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.

1155518_masks.jpgDomestic violence issues often lead to the victim seeking protection through a restraining order. In Florida, the restraining order is actually an injunction that establishes prohibitions on the parties communicating with one another and can put limitations regarding violence. The injunction is designed to protect the alleged victim from the offending party by placing geographical limitations, weapon possession and other limitations on the other party. When domestic violence is prevalent with both parties, then often both sides will file for an injunction against one another.

Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney

Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.

c1main.florida.divorce.wsvn.bcso.jpgDomestic violence in marriage can be a major cause for divorce and knowing you are safe is key to the livelihood of you and your children. If you fear abuse or other harm from your spouse, you should apply for a domestic violence injunction with the court. In addition, in going through a divorce with someone that is violent, you should let your attorney know and the judge know that you are in fear for your safety in the presence of your spouse. If the judge is aware of the danger, then the judge can take the proper steps in insuring your safety while you are going through divorce hearings where you and your spouse are in the same room. The judge can have a bailiff sit-in on the proceedings to restrain the spouse if that spouse becomes violent.

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