Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Domestic Violence

After their relationship soured, the parties in the case Sumners v. Thompson, 1D18-3637 (Fla. 1st DCA May 13, 2019) went their separate ways but not before the alleged victim filed a petition for injunction against dating violence against the alleged abuser. The petitioner alleged she was repeatedly text messaged, called and sent messages on social media by her ex-paramour, in addition to him showing up at her house uninvited.

The parties met on and thereafter had a years-long on and off relationship that was sexual in nature. At some point the petitioner ended communication with the alleged abuser. She then began receiving repeated text messages, unpleasant voicemails and social media messages from him. At one point, he showed up to her residence and refused to leave until the police were called. After the injunction was sought, he did not contact her again and testified he had no desire to do so. Despite this, an injunction was entered against him finding dating violence had occurred.

On appeal, the alleged abuser contended the petitioner had no standing to file a petition for injunction against dating violence because the parties were not in a committed relationship and did not go out on dates. The appellate court disagreed, holding “Under the plain language of the statute, a dating relationship exists when the parties "have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature." § 784.046(1)(d), Fla. Stat. (2018). Nothing in the statute requires that the parties go out on a date, at least in the traditional sense of a couple going to dinner and a movie. Rather, the statute requires only that the relationship is continuous, significant, and intimate. The evidence of the four-year, intimate sexual relationship between [the parties] clearly supports a finding of a dating relationship.”

However, the court reversed the injunction, holding the evidence presented did not support a dating violence injunction. The court held, “[The Petitioner] never alleged that she had been the victim of dating violence. Instead, she asserted that she believed that [the alleged abuser] might harm her and that she did not know what he was capable of. [She] acknowledged that [he] never verbally threatened her in person or in any text, phone call, or voice message. And she admitted that [he] never acted violently toward her or ever touched her without her consent. Although [she] testified that she felt threatened the one time [he] arrived at her home uninvited, she conceded that [he] was not violent and did not verbally threaten her. She theorized that based on [his] pattern of behavior—an unspecified number of contacts over two weeks by text, voice message, and social media, and a one-time unannounced visit to her home—she was ‘afraid he was going to hurt me next.’ We hold that the evidence offered by [her] is too conclusory and vague to support the issuance of an injunction for dating violence.”

To give yourself the best chance of success in your Florida domestic violence case, contact a Miami family law attorney for assistance. Through a consultation, you can understand the law and how it will apply to the facts of your case.