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How to Obtain a Restraining Order in Wisconsin


When in an unsafe situation, it can be difficult and overwhelming to take the necessary steps to protect yourself or your loved ones. Restraining orders exist to legally protect you against an individual threatening your safety and wellbeing.


Here’s what you need to know about restraining orders in Wisconsin.


What is a restraining order?

A restraining order, also referred to as a protective order, is a court order that prohibits contact between a specific individual and the person requesting the order, typically to prevent further harassment, violence, threats or other harm.


Types of restraining orders

There are four types of restraining orders. Each one is tailored for specific situation: harassment, domestic abuse, child abuse or individual at risk, with harassment and domestic abuse being the most common.


Harassment

Harassment orders are the most common type of restraining order, as they encompass a wide breadth of behaviors that warrant a restraining order, including physical contact like striking, shoving and kicking; child abuse; sexual assault; stalking; threats or attempts to do any of the former behaviors; and conduct or acts that harass or intimate another person.


Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse orders are the second most common type of restraining order. While many of the behaviors are the same as those considered harassment, domestic abuse is more strictly defined by who is perpetrating the harmful behaviors.


Domestic abuse restraining orders are an option when the abusive behavior occurs between adult family or household members, former spouses, adults who have or had a romantic relationship, or adults who have a child together.


Types of behavior that are considered domestic abuse include intentional inflection of physical pain or injury; intentional impairment of a physical condition; sexual assault; stalking; intentional damage to physical property belonging to the petitioner; and threats to engage in any of the former behaviors.


Child Abuse

Child abuse restraining orders protect a child against an individual who has caused physical injury to the child, trafficked the child, sexually assaulted or exploited the child, or caused emotional damage to the child due to neglect.


Individual at Risk

An individual at risk restraining order protects an adult who has a physical or mental condition that significantly impairs their ability to care for themselves and is experiencing, or is at risk of experiencing, abuse, neglect or exploitation.


How to file for a restraining order

In order to obtain a restraining order, one must first request and complete a petition for a temporary restraining order. A temporary restraining order (TRO) will temporarily prohibit any contact between the petitioner and the respondent, or the person against whom the restraining order is requested, until a court hearing occurs to determine the issuance of a final order of protection.


The court will determine whether or not to issue a TRO based on the information provided in the petition. The TRO can be granted at the time of filing, but it cannot be enforced until the respondent, or the person against whom the restraining order is filed, has been served the order.


If the TRO is granted, a court hearing will automatically be scheduled within 14 days to determine the issuance of a final order of protection, which is called an injunction. An injunction can be granted for up to two years for child abuse and up to four years for domestic abuse, harassment and individuals at risk.


If the TRO is not granted, a petitioner can still request a court date for a final injunction and a hearing may be scheduled.


What evidence is needed to file a restraining order?

A judge will grant a restraining order based on whether the information provided about the situation meets Wisconsin’s legal definition of abuse. A petitioner is encouraged to provide as much information as possible about the actions and incidents that fall within the definition, such as instances of violence, threats, or stalking.


Factual details that thoroughly illustrate the situation may include:

  • Dates and times of incidents;

  • Exact wording of threats;

  • Parts of the body that were touched or injured;

  • Parts of abuser’s body that were used to touch or injure;

  • Use of weapons; and

  • Body language.

An injunction hearing also provides an opportunity to present evidence to the judge, including medical records, police reports, or photos.


It may be overwhelming to determine what qualifies as proof and if a petitioner has enough proof to justify a restraining order. An attorney can help provide insight into this crucial part of the process and help a petitioner get the protection he or she deserves.


Cost of a restraining order

Restraining orders for domestic abuse, child abuse and individual at risk are free of charge. Harassment orders have a processing fee, which can be waived for low income individuals.


Consult an attorney

Needing a restraining order is a stressful, potentially scary situation, and the process to obtain a restraining order can be an additional burden. The attorneys at The Everson Law Firm have the expertise and compassion to help you navigate the process and ensure you get the protection you and your family deserve. Contact us to make an appointment today.