Domestic violence victims all too frequently face a dilemma when contemplating taking legal action against their abuser — fearing that if they take time off of work to file an injunction, seek medical care, or get legal advice, they will lose their job. A Florida law that entered into effect in 2007 aims to remove this worry for domestic violence victims, as it requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide a maximum of three days of unpaid leave so that a domestic violence victim may pursue legal action or receive medical care relating to the abuse.
What qualifies as “domestic violence”?
Florida law defines domestic violence as any assault, battery, stalking, kidnapping, or other criminal offense that results in the physical injury or death of a family or household member by another. Threats of harm also qualify as domestic violence. Any of the following individuals can commit domestic violence:
- Current or ex-spouse
- Blood- or marriage-related relative
- Parent of your child
- Current or former live-in significant other
What steps can I take if I fear domestic violence?
Florida law provides a number of methods for potential domestic violence victims to protect themselves. Victims are encouraged to file a police report as well as an “Injunction for Protection.” This petition should detail all incidents of violence, including the use of any weapons, drugs, or alcohol. In addition, the injunction request should include the type of relief requested, such as:
- No or restricted contact (restricted to matters involving minor shared children)
- Request for counseling or drug or alcohol abuse evaluation
- Exclusive use and possession of the shared home
- Time-sharing and financial child support
After evaluating the request, a judge may grant a temporary injunction for up to 15 days, and a hearing will be required to turn the temporary order into a permanent one.
Suffering domestic abuse is an emotionally trying and often frightening experience. A compassionate Florida domestic violence advocate can help ensure you get the protection you need for yourself and your children.