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Miami-Dade County family court offices guide domestic abuse victims

A recent assault on a woman in a gas station, allegedly by the father of her son, has ramped up attention surrounding domestic violence issues in South Florida. The woman was set on fire by a man who was later charged with attempted first-degree murder.

The assault came just two weeks after the woman had tried to get a protective order filed against the man. A judge denied the order request, concluding that there was not enough evidence to warrant such a ruling.

In Miami-Dade County and elsewhere, domestic violence victims have the opportunity to seek protection from potential abusers by going through the family courts. Court staffers aid potential victims in filling out the necessary paperwork. Staffers cannot give legal advice or serve as advocates, but they can make sure they are doing things properly in order to best protect the victims. A judge then reviews the paperwork that same day, and law enforcement can begin enforcing the order within 24 hours.

The woman who was attacked at the gas station went through this process, but she was denied despite what has now been confirmed as an imminent threat. Her story highlights the importance of judges being ever vigilant when considering these orders. In many cases, being safe rather than sorry can be a valuable measure that can protect the well-being of potential victims.

In Miami-Dade County, four locations are available to serve potential victims of abuse. A domestic violence hotline is also available to provide information and guidance to individuals fearing abuse.

Domestic violence is a serious and often too-deadly matter. Persons with questions or imminent concerns should contact an experienced Miami domestic violence attorney without delay for strong legal representation.

Source: 6 NBC Miami, "Miami-Dade court office helps people 'going through a traumatic time,'" Willard Shepard, June 13, 2012

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