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What To Do If Your Divorce Turns Violent

Florida’s infamous George Zimmerman has recently been back in the news, this time not for alleged murder but for domestic troubles. Zimmerman and his estranged wife, Shellie, are divorcing. A recent encounter led her to place a panicked call to 911 to request police intervention. While it is unclear as to precisely what happened between the couple, or between Zimmerman and his former father-in-law, there were reports of punching, breaking things and threats involving a gun. 

This is not Zimmerman’s first brush with domestic violence. His former fiancé also filed for a domestic violence injunction, though he was not convicted of any crime. 

Filing for an injunction 

Regardless of whether a partner or former partner has a history of violence, separation and divorce can escalate to violence or the threat of violence. If you feel threatened or your ex is actively threatening you or your children with bodily harm, file for a restraining order. This is an injunction against the party threatening you, and requires that this person refrain from contacting or approaching you for a specified period of time. An injunction can be temporary or permanent. In many cases, a judge issues a temporary order to secure the immediate safety of the victim, then schedules a hearing to review the case. 

Here are some of the conditions regarding a restraining order: 

  • In order to file, a victim must feel they are being physically threatened and that such harm is likely and imminent.
  • The petitioner can be any member of a household, not necessarily a spouse.
  • The injunction does not affect any other action against the accused person.
  • Filing does not impact the status of real estate holdings or division of property, even if one spouse has left the property to avoid an act of violence.
  • There is no residency requirement for filing an injunction. 

A domestic violence injunction can also: 

  • Assign temporary possession of the residence to the victim and minor children.
  • Provide an order for temporary child support.
  • Alter a current time-sharing agreement to restrict or prohibit contact with a violent or potentially violent parent. 

Circuit court employees and other relevant staff receive training in the handling of domestic violence cases. The offices make every effort to protect the privacy of the parties during the filing and are equipped to distribute information regarding shelters and other crisis relief agencies. 

The Broward and Palm Beach County divorce attorneys at Weiner & Weiss, LLC can advise you and assist you with your petition for a domestic violence injunction. We take every threat seriously and work to protect you and your children from violence before, during or after your divorce.

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