Can I Modify a Domestic Violence Injunction?

If you seek any modifications to a court order, strong evidence must be submitted to justfiy its dissolution. 

A permanent injunction, by its name alone, sounds like a court order that cannot be changed. Yet, despite the "permanent" language, a permanent injunction for domestic violence may be modified.

A 2011 First District case in Florida sheds light on this issue.

Filing a Motion to Dissolve or Modify a Permanent Injunction for Domestic Violence

A domestic violence injunction ordered by the court may be either dissolved or modified so long as a party can demonstrate there is a "sufficient showing of changed circumstances." This is the lesson of Alkhoury v. Alkhoury, 54 So. 3d 641 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011).

In the Alkhoury case, an ex-husband filed a motion to dissolve a permanent injunction entered against him for domestic violence. His motion was granted by the trial court without elaborating on the court's reasoning, leading the ex-wife to appeal the decision. The appellate court stated that, to modify or dissolve a domestic violence injunction, it must be shown that the "events or scenario" that caused the injunction to be created in the first place no longer exist.

The appellate court reviewed the "extremely graphic testimony" that was presented at the hearing and found that the circumstances originally justifying the injunction had not changed. As a result, the appellate court reversed the trial court's decision to dissolve the permanent injunction, and remanded the case with instructions that the injunction against domestic violence must be reinstated.

A separate case, Ramirez v. Ramirez, 1 D10-5888 (Fla. 1st DCA May 18, 2012), highlights that a domestic violence injunction may be modified or dissolved when:

  • Former spouses or partners live a great distance from each other

  • The parties have interacted without violence for several years

  • Or, alternatively, when the parties' sole reason for interacting has ended or will end soon

Similar to the reasoning of the Alkhoury case, the Ramirez case demonstrates that a fairly significant change in circumstances is needed to justify the modification or dissolution of a domestic violence injunction.

So long as a party can show that continuing a permanent injunction has no real purpose, given the changes in circumstances, it is reasonable to expect the court will modify or dissolve the injunction. And, it is worth noting there is no rule on how long a party must wait in order to file a motion for an injunction's dissolution or modification. So long as there is a "sufficient" (broad language giving the court a great deal of decision-making authority in the matter) change in circumstances, a court is free to modify or dissolve the injunction.

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If you have questions regarding your permanent injunction, or are unaware as to the terms and conditions in, talk to, and retain, a family law attorney who can help. Contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at contact@themckinneylawgroup.com

Damien McKinney

The McKinney Law Group, 1105 West Swann Avenue, Tampa, FL, 33606, United States

Damien has practiced in of all aspects of marital and family law for his entire career and offers a rare commodity, a lawyer dedicated solely to his area of practice.