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Cyberstalking As Domestic Violence In Florida

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Domestic violence is a serious problem in many relationships, and many spouses consider filing for divorce because they are the victims of abuse. According to a Forbes article, in one year, domestic violence call centers received 28,000 calls daily from victims of domestic violence. Unfortunately, this number is probably only a small fraction of the people who are victims this violence. Domestic violence takes on many forms beyond physical violence, and under Florida law, it includes cyberstalking.

A domestic violence injunction can be obtained to protect a spouse who is the victim of cyberstalking and is in the process of getting a divorce from an abusive spouse. Under Florida law, cyberstalking is defined as engaging in communication, including words and images, using electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person and causing substantial emotional distress to that person. The communication must also serve no legitimate purpose.

In the context of a separated couple, or a couple going through a divorce, it is not unheard of for a spouse to receive continuous messages that are aimed at aggravating or intimidating that spouse, for example, sending over 300 electronic messages that serve no purpose other than to cause the receiving spouse emotional distress. If a spouse engages in this kind of behavior, either through text messages, email, or other electronic means, that spouse could be engaging in cyberstalking.

By issuing a domestic violence injunction, a court can order a person to stop communicating directly with the protected person. If the people involved share a child and need to communicate regarding that child, the court can order an alternative method of communication, or perhaps order communication through third parties only. Cyberstalking is also a criminal offense, and a spouse who engages in this behavior can be prosecuted criminally.

It is important to remember that the cyberstalking definition only covers communication that serves no legitimate purpose. Therefore, as annoying or aggravating as some communication from your spouse may be while you are going through a divorce, it may not be considered cyberstalking if, for instance, it relates to your children, or matters regarding the divorce.

If you are not comfortable speaking to your spouse during the divorce process, you can request that communication regarding the divorce go through your attorneys. If you have children, you can agree to communicate only through certain means, like text messages, and limit the number of messages to an agreeable number. Text messages can provide a good paper trail if a spouse’s communications become abusive. If the parents cannot communicate effectively, they should include specific terms on how they will communicate regarding the children in their parenting plan.

Let Us Assist You

If you are a victim of domestic violence and would like to file for divorce, there are legal steps that you can take to protect yourself while you go through the process of the divorce. To find out more about filing for divorce and seeking a domestic violence injunction, contact an experienced Boca Raton, Florida divorce attorney, at the Law Offices of Schwartz l White for more information.

Resources:

forbes.com/sites/jefflanders/2016/10/25/domestic-violence-and-divorce/#833358d401d9

scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=8322989411111617851&q=cyberstalking&hl=en&as_sdt=4,10

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