An injunction, also referred to as a restraining order, is ordered by a court to prevent one person (the respondent) from specific actions against another person (the petitioner). Typically, an injunction will order the respondent to maintain a specific distance away from the petitioner and restrict certain or all forms of communication.

Should the respondent violate any of the court’s directives, the court has the right to enforce these orders. Any violation of the injunction for protection against domestic violence can lead to criminal consequences. Violation of an injunction is considered a first-degree misdemeanor with a penalty of $1000.00 fines and 12 months in county jail. Continuous violations can lead to the respondent being incarcerated in state prison.

Domestic Violence Injunctions

A domestic violence injunction can be filed by a family or household member who has reasonable cause to believe they are at immediate risk of being abused or have been abused by another family or household member.

It is important to know that the “immediate” part of the risk is also vital. The risk of danger or threat has to be imminent. There has to be probable action not just mere words. The courts listen to all evidence presented before it, both words and actions to determine what is and what is not an immediate risk.

“Reasonable cause” means that the petitioner must have objective evidence to support the notion that he or she is at risk of facing domestic violence. The evidence could be a history of violent encounters between both parties in the past, any violent threats made by the respondent, or if any prior situation has led to law enforcement been called to the scene.

Defining “Family or Household Member”

Family or Household Member extends to the following:

  • Current or former spouses
  • Individuals related by blood
  • Individuals related by marriage
  • Individuals related by other legal means (guardianship, adoptions, etc.)
  • Any persons with a child in common
  • Any persons who share a single dwelling unit like a family

Defining Abuse or Domestic Violence

Domestic violence or abuse can be in the form of the following directed at the petitioner, the petitioner’s family, or the petitioner’s associates (i.e. friends or coworkers):

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Aggravated assault or battery
  • Sexual assault or battery
  • Stalking
  • Kidnapping
  • Any criminal offense that leads to physical harm, or death
  • Intentionally inflicting injury or causing death to petitioner’s pet
  • Attempting to inflict harm to the petitioner or persons closely associated with the petitioner
  • Threatening to inflict harm to or kidnap the petitioner’s children
  • Threatening or using dangerous weapons
  • Destroying personal property or items owned by petitioner
  • Any other threatening behavior

Injunction Process

A domestic violence injunction is easy to obtain and can be acquired from the court circuits where the domestic violence happened or where the petitioner resides.

When seeking a Domestic Violence Injunction, the petitioner must describe the nature of the relationship between him/her and the respondent. Secondly, the person filing for the petition must have a reasonable cause to believe he or she is at the risk of domestic violence. Lastly, the petitioner must either be a victim of domestic violence or must have reasonable cause to believe he or she is at immediate risk of domestic violence.

Injunction forms are available in Circuit Courts and the court’s staff are required by law to assist in filling the forms. A domestic violence injunction is free to file. The petitioner fills out the form under oath that all information provided is accurate. Lying or providing false information means the petitioner may be charged with perjury.

Both the petitioner and the respondent may choose to have an attorney represent them.

Other Types of Injunctions

There are other types of injunctions apart from domestic violence injunctions.

  • Sexual Violence Injunctions: This is available for victims of certain types of sexual violence or criminal sexual acts.
  • Repeat Violence Injunctions: This is available for victims who have encountered two incidents of stalking or violence, one of which must have happened within six months of the petition being filed. Repeat violence injunctions don’t require any form of domestic or personal relationship between the parties involved before it can be put into motion.
  • Dating Violence Injunctions: Offers protection to persons who are in a significant relationship from perceived violence.
  • Stalking injunctions: Offer protection against various forms of stalking such as physical stalking or cyberstalking.

What Happens After I File For An Injunction?

After filing for a domestic violence injunction, the court considers your petition based solely on the evidence you provide in the petition. The court will first determine if there is an “imminent or present danger” of domestic violence. If their findings affirm an immediate danger, the court issues an “ex parte” order. This is done without the knowledge of the other party (the respondent) to which the petition is being filed against.

The “ex parte” orders are usually temporary and they:

  • Tell the respondent not to engage in any acts of violence.
  • Can award 100% of timesharing to the petitioner.
  • Give the petitioner sole use of the shared

The court will also schedule a hearing to determine if the temporary or ex parte order should be continued on a more permanent basis. Both the petitioner and the respondent will be required to attend the hearing and provide their case.

At the completion of the hearing the court enters the following orders such as:

  • Tell the respondent not to engage in any acts of violence.
  • If a child is shared between the two parties, the injunction can award up to 100% of timesharing to the petitioner as well as temporary child support award or modification.
  • Give the petitioner sole use of the shared
  • Order the respondent to seek treatment like counseling services or take part in an intervention program.
  • Order the petitioner to an accredited and certified domestic violence center
  • Any other relief plans the courts deem the petitioner needs for protection (i.e. maintain a specific distance away from the petitioner, their home, and/or workplace).

How Long Is A Domestic Violence Injunction In Effect?

A temporary (ex parte) injunction is meant to provide protection until an official hearing takes place, usually within a few days. The court determines the duration of the final injunction, in most cases, it lasts for up to a year and can be renewed if the injunction is still necessary to ensure your protection. However, the facts of the case or failure to adhere to the injunction may lead the court to decide to not set an expiration date. If that should be the case, either party can ask the court to put an end to the injunction.

Hiring An Attorney To Help Obtain A Domestic Violence Injunction

Obtaining a temporary or permanent injunction does not require the aid of an attorney, although it can be beneficial to have a Family Law attorney familiar with injunctions represent you. Obtaining an ex parte injunction can be done without having to face your abuser, but the official hearing can be more stressful when you are required to face the respondent. By having an attorney represent you, you can obtain the legal protection that you desire while minimizing your interaction with the respondent.