Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders

Too often, a dissolution of marriage begins with an altercation of domestic violence. Domestic violence is defined as assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other criminal offence resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.

If somebody has been the victim of domestic violence or is an imminent threat or fear of becoming a victim of domestic violence, that person should file a petition for injunction against domestic violence in order to obtain a restraining order. The filing party must prove that he/she was either a victim of domestic violence or is in fear of an imminent threat of violence. To prove that a victim is in fear of an imminent threat of violence, that threat must be actual. It must be a threat that can be carried out.

When a party files a petition for injunction for protection against domestic violence, the court is required to set a hearing within 14 days – meaning that you, the petitioner, must be ready to prove the domestic violence within 2 weeks of filing. The court will also decide whether to issue a temporary restraining order against the accused offender, which would force him/her to vacate your residence. For anyone who has received a temporary restraining order, you must be prepared to defend yourself in order to avoid a final injunction for protection against you in favor of the petitioner.

The lawyers at Johnson Ritchey Family Law Firm have extensive experience in litigation with domestic violence matters. Contact us today.

Give Giving a Go

In one of my recent collaborative cases, the parties were stuck negotiating between two numbers. They were not far apart, certainly not far apart enough to warrant litigating or even mediating. They were stuck and dug into their positions. Our very experienced team with excellent professionals was having difficulty getting them to move from their dug-in trenches. The settlement facilitator had a private meeting with both spouses. She reported back that she allowed them to each voice their concerns, discuss their perception of why what he/she was asking was fair. Each of them was heard by the other. At the end of that meeting, she asked each of them to approach the rest of the process from a perspective of what he/she could give, rather than what he/she could ask of the other. By focusing on what each was able to give we were able to resolve the case. Interestingly we ended up on one of the parties number, but that party was able to give on other issues that made the resolution possible.

This case reminded me of the principles taught by Bob Burg and John David Mann in The Go-Giver. If you have never met Joe in this parable be sure to check it out to see what he learns on his journey to uncover the following five principles.

  • The Law of Value: Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.
  • The Law of Compensation: Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
  • The Law of Influence: Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.
  • The Law of Authenticity. The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
  • The Law of Receptivity: The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.

By focusing on theses principles and on what you can give rather than what you can get, you can achieve success in business and life in a much more fulfilling way than by being a go-getter. You do not have to accumulate wealth or possessions to give something to someone. Everyone has the ability to give. It could be as small as a smile or a helping hand. Even though we are in a service industry, a lot of times it is easy to forget we are here to serve.

I challenge everyone to think about what you can give– in your relationships at home or at work, in your practice with your clients, employees and other professionals. I anticipate the results will surprise and please you.

Florida Alimony Reform: Permanent Alimony Eliminated

On July 1, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1416 into law. SB 1416 permanently abolished permanent alimony. SB 1416 has substantially changed our alimony laws in Florida. The Court may award a combination of three (3) forms of alimony. The forms of alimony that may be awarded are bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative and durational alimony.

In a similar manner to the prior alimony statute, the Court must analyze each party’s need for and ability to pay alimony. The Court evaluates several factors in order to determine the alimony award. SB 1416 revised those factors to include an analysis of not only standard of living, but also future expected expenses. The mental condition of each party is now a factor along with prior factors of age, physical and emotional condition. And, SB 1416 provides for the Court to give special attention to a party’s care for a child that is mentally and/or physically disabled.

Upon a determination that there is a need and ability, the Court may award a combination of the various forms of alimony, in addition to temporary alimony during the pendency of the litigation. The forms of alimony have been reformed pursuant to SB 1416.

  • Bridge-the-gap alimony may not exceed two (2) years and is non modifiable in duration and amount. Bridge-the-gap alimony is for legitimate, identifiable short term needs.
  • Rehabilitative alimony may not exceed five (5) years and is modifiable in duration and amount. Rehabilitative alimony requires a plan.
  • Durational alimony cannot be awarded for a marriage of less than three (3) years. The length of durational alimony may not exceed 50% of the length of a short term marriage (3-10 years); 60% of the length of a moderate term marriage (10-20 years) and 75% of the length a long term marriage (20 plus years). The amount of durational alimony may not exceed 35% of the net difference between the payor spouse’s net income and recipient spouse’s net income.

The statute does not provide a cap on the amount of alimony, but rather guides the parties in that the payor may not be left with significantly less net income than the recipient. The Court may award alimony as a lump sum payment under certain circumstances.

The attorneys at Johnson Ritchey Family Law PLLC are highly skilled and competent to handle all alimony related issues in dissolution actions, including post-judgment modifications and enforcement actions that might be necessary.

What you need to know about hb 1301 and how it affects timesharing and parentig in florida

On June 28, 2023, the Florida legislature

Signed into law HB 1301 which significantly amended Section 61.30, Florida Statutes regarding Parenting and Time-Sharing in Florida. HB 1301 takes effect July 1, 2023. The changes are as follow:

Equal Timesharing is Presumed to be in the Best Interest of the Minor Child:

  • The new statute creates a rebuttal presumption that equal time-sharing for both parents is in the best interest of the parties’ minor children. The old statute did not have a presumption either way and was focused only on what the court determined to be in the best interest of minor children.
  • The burden of proof to rebut the presumption that equal time-sharing is in the best interest of the children requires the party seeking a different time-sharing schedule prove by a preponderance of the evidence that 50-50 time-sharing is not in the best interest of the minor children. A preponderance of the evidence means that the claim is more likely to be true
    than not. (Which boils down to proving that there is a greater than 50% likelihood that the claim that equal time-sharing is not in the best interest of the minor children is true.)
  • The Court must evaluate all of the factors listed in the time-sharing statute and make specific findings of fact unless the time-sharing schedule being adopted is agreed to by the parties.

An Unanticipated Change in Circumstances is No Longer Required for Modification

  • Under the new statute, if the parents of a child are residing greater than 50 miles apart at the time of the entry of the last timesharing order, and one of the parents moves within 50 miles of the other parent, that move may be considered a substantial and material change in circumstance for the purposes of a modification of the time-sharing schedule. The party requesting the modification would still need to demonstrate that the modification is in the best interest of the child. This change in the law will have a significant impact on parenting matters going forward and orders previously entered.  We may see the amount of modification actions increase as a result.


The attorneys at Johnson Ritchey Family Law PLLC are highly skilled and competent to handle all parental responsibility and timesharing related issues in dissolution and paternity actions, including post-judgment modifications and enforcement actions that might be necessary.

A working parent’s paradigm shift

My firm started working from home during the pandemic and my kids, Landon, age 7, and Kendall, age 4, switched to schooling from home around that same time.