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Do You or Someone You Know Need an Injunction for the Protection of a Vulnerable Adult?

A vulnerable adult is a person 18 years or older with impaired ability to perform the normal activities of daily living or to provide for their care or protection. A person can be impaired due to a mental, emotional, sensory, long-term physical, developmental disability or dysfunction, brain damage, or infirmities of aging.

The exploitation of a vulnerable adult means depriving the vulnerable adult of their funds or property, depriving the vulnerable adult with diminished capacity of funds or property, breach of fiduciary duty to the vulnerable adult, bank account misuse, failure to provide necessities or modification of a vulnerable adult’s intended estate plan for financial benefit.  

Those who can file for an injunction for protection include a vulnerable adult who is in imminent danger of being exploited or their guardian, a person or organization acting with the consent of the vulnerable adult or their guardian, an agent under a valid durable power of attorney, a person who simultaneously files a petition for determination of incapacity and appointment of an emergency temporary guardian concerning the vulnerable adult. 

If a guardianship is pending, the petition must be filed in that case; otherwise, it must be filed in the circuit where the vulnerable adult resides. Our Self-Help Center can assist with forms and processes for applying for an injunction. Our deputy clerks are always ready to accommodate their needs if any vulnerable adults or their legal guardians and representatives seek help or assistance. The Self-Help Center is located on the first floor of the Courthouse and is open from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday-Friday. 

The court may deny the petition, set a hearing, or issue a temporary injunction and set a final hearing. The court may grant the relief the court deems proper and may include restraining the respondent from committing any acts of exploitation against the vulnerable adult, awarding the vulnerable adult the temporary exclusive use and possession of the dwelling that the vulnerable adult and respondent share, or barring the respondent from the residence of the vulnerable adult, freezing any assets of the vulnerable adult, or freezing any line of credit. 

If a final injunction is ordered, the court may grant relief as the court deems proper if it appears to the court that: the vulnerable adult is the victim of exploitation or that they are in imminent danger of becoming a victim of exploitation; there is a likelihood of irreparable harm and nonavailability of an adequate remedy at law; the threatened injury to the vulnerable adult outweighs possible damage to the respondent; or, if freezing assets, there is substantial likelihood that such assets will be ordered to be returned to the vulnerable adult. The relief provides for the vulnerable adult’s physical or financial safety. 

The relief may include continuing the temporary injunction in part or in whole, restraining the respondent from committing any acts of exploitation, awarding the vulnerable adult exclusive use and possession of the shared dwelling or excluding the respondent from the residence, ordering the respondent to participate in treatment, intervention, or counseling services, returning frozen assets to the vulnerable adult or lifting the temporary freeze, enter a cost judgment against the respondent, and any other relief to protect a victim of exploitation. 

If you know of any case of abuse of older people, please call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873.