The following is a summary of the information and process when filing for a civil restraining order. For additional information, please speak with a Victim Services Advocate or staff in the Clerk of the Court.Who is eligible?
Any domestic violence victim per FS 741.28: Domestic violence means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or criminal offence resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another who is or was residing in the same single dwelling unit.
Family or household member means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have resided together at any time.
Under what circumstances?
Any person who is the victim of any act of domestic violence, or has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger (threatening) of becoming the victim per FS 741.30 (1) (a).
Where can a person apply?
Any courthouse at the the Clerk of the Court Offices. Palm Beach County Victim Services will provide accompaniment, advocacy, and supportive counseling for domestic violence victims during the filing process and extension hearings.
How much does it cost?
There is no filing fee per FS 741.30
Is this a civil or criminal action?
Civil. The victim is the petitioner and the abuser is the respondent.
How long does it take?
You may be at the courthouse for several hours. After you fill out the paperwork, it is forwarded to the Judge for review and approval.
How is the respondent served?
A Palm Beach County Sheriff's Officer serves a copy of the restraining order to the respondent. It is very important to plan for your safety since the respondent will possess a copy of everything stated in the restraining order and may become even more angry.
If approved and signed by the Judge, how long is it in effect?
The first emergency order is good for 15 days. You will receive a certified copy that you must keep with you at all times. A hearing is held before the 15 days are over. The Judge will decide to extend or dismiss the restraining order based on petitioner and respondent statements. An advocate can be with you during this hearing. If the order is extended, the Judge may approve it for a few months, a year, or for an indefinite period of time.
What happens if the respondent violates the order?
Safety First! Call the police to protect yourself (and your children). File a police report to document the incident, then proceed to the Clerk's office to file a violation.
How can the order be terminated?
Either party can petition the court to have the order modified or dissolved.