Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Domestic Violence

When domestic violence threatens a person’s safety, in addition to calling the police, a person has the option of filing a petition for injunction against domestic violence in Florida. The person accused of domestic violence, however, is still entitled to what is known as due process. This basically refers to the person’s right to be sued under “fair” circumstances.

In the case Youssef v. Youssef, 241 So.3d 901 (Fla. 2d DCA 2018), the husband and wife and their three minor children were residents of Ohio. In January 2017, the wife moved to Florida with their three children and less than 2 weeks later, she filed a petition for an injunction for protection against domestic violence against the husband there. A temporary injunction was entered, and the husband, who was still living in Ohio, filed a motion to dismiss based on lack of personal jurisdiction.

The trial court denied the husband’s motion to dismiss, identifying three grounds on which it based its exercise of personal jurisdiction: (1) that the husband had family living in Florida; (2) that the husband had sent the wife and children to Florida six times in the past; and that (3) the husband previously traveled to Florida to visit his family. The trial court also concluded there was a safety exception to the long arm statute as it relates to a domestic violence injunction, and further it was making an emergency custody determination under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

On appeal, the trial court’s order was reversed. First, the appellate court reasoned that the three grounds on which the trial court based its exercise of personal jurisdiction were invalid. A person’s decision to vacation in Florida without more does not give rise to personal jurisdiction. Second, the appellate court found there was no safety exception to the requirement that personal jurisdiction must exist to adjudicate the wife’s claims. Last, the appellate court held this was not a custody determination, so that did not provide a basis to exercise personal jurisdiction over the husband.

Knowing how to navigate the laws is important in your Florida family law case. Schedule a consultation with a Miami divorce attorney so that you can understand your rights and remedies going forward.