What To Do If You Need A Restraining Order in Wisconsin

Categories: divorce


Unfortunately, there are times in marriages or other relationships where one person in the relationship becomes scared that the other may do them harm, or do harm to someone they love. This can occur during a difficult time like a divorce, or can arise in the day-to-day of normal life. Sometimes violence arises because of addiction or a mental disorder, while other times it is a product of certain circumstances or unexplainable.

When this happens, the individual who is seeking relief can turn to the Wisconsin courts for assistance and protection through court orders called restraining orders and injunctions. Restraining orders, among other things, may require that the person you fear to keep a certain distance away from you, refrain from going near your home or place of work, or stay out of contact with you entirely. These are temporary documents until the court hears your request for an injunction, which has the same effect but for a longer period of time.  In order to get a restraining order and an injunction, it helps to first understand how the process works.

Restraining Orders in Wausau

Under Wisconsin law, there are four types of restraining orders:

  • Domestic abuse orders
  • Child abuse orders
  • Harassment orders
  • Elder at risk orders

Domestic abuse orders are available to individuals who have been victims of domestic abuse by a person with whom they have a special relationship, such as a husband, partner, parent, adult child, boyfriend, or caregiver. Under Wisconsin law, domestic abuse includes actions intended to cause you physical harm, sexual assault, stalking, destruction of your property, or threatening to do any of these things.

A domestic violence order will order your abuser to stop abusing you, and will also order them to stay physically away from you and out of contact with you.

A child abuse order is specifically for children who have been victims of abuse. It orders their abusers to stay away from them or risk legal action or jail time. Child abuse orders are only available for minor children. Adult children who fear their parents can seek relief from a domestic abuse order.

Child abuse orders can apply when children have been physically abused, sexually abused, sexually exploited or neglected. Children can petition for these orders themselves, or a parent or legal guardian can petition on behalf of a child who is being abused.

Harassment orders are for all other types of relationships, such as friend relationships, coworkers, neighbors or even strangers. Anyone who is being harassed by another individual and who does not qualify for a domestic abuse order or a child abuse order can file for a harassment order.

Harassment is very broadly defined and includes not only actions that would cause physical harm, but also sexual assault, stalking, unwanted touching, or any other type of action that is done with the intent to harass and not another legitimate purpose.

How Do I Get A Restraining Order In Wisconsin?

Restraining orders come from the court, and you must petition your local court in order to get one. Although the three types of restraining orders vary, the process for getting them is similar for all three. First, you must fill out the necessary paperwork for requesting a restraining order, which is available on the Wisconsin court forms website.

In the paperwork you will need to explain why you qualify for the order and why you are seeking it. So you will need to explain the type of abuse you have been experiencing and why you are afraid of the person you are seeking an order against. This may include detailing past abuse, or past threats, and explaining the nature of the relationship between you and your abuser.

After completing the paperwork you will need to take it to your local court and file the paperwork. When you file the papers, a judge will review them and may ask you additional questions about your circumstances and what is going on. If the judge believes that you are in serious danger, he or she can order a temporary restraining order that is good for 14 days until you can have a full hearing on the merits of your petition.

Whether you receive a temporary order or not, you must participate in a hearing in order to get an injunction, which is essentially a longer-term restraining order. The hearing is like a small trial. Both you and your abuser will have the opportunity to make statements about what has happened, present physical evidence or witnesses, and set forth the elements of your case.

You must go to the hearing in order to get an injunction. If you do not show up to the hearing your temporary order will expire and your petition will be denied. It is also very helpful to have a lawyer with you at the hearing in order to assist you in presenting your evidence to a judge.  A lawyer can also help you to put together the best case possible before your hearing.

If you show up to a hearing without a lawyer and realize that your abuser has hired a lawyer, you should try to request a continuance, or extension, of your hearing until you have time to find a lawyer yourself. This is very important because a victim will not want to proceed against an abuser’s lawyer without help.

If, after the hearing, the judge believes that you are entitled to an order, he will issue an injunction for a set period of time, which can be up to four years or even ten years in the case of particularly violent abuse.

Disclaimer: This Article Is Not Legal Advice.

Never rely on an article for legal advice as the law frequently changes, information may not be accurate, there may be exceptions to a rule, and reliance may be detrimental. Always consult one of our experienced attorneys for competent, current, and accurate legal advice.

Wisconsin Attorneys Protecting You Through The Restraining Order Process

If you have been abused by a loved one, parent, or acquaintance, or have faced threats of abuse, it is imperative that you seek protection from the courts before the abuse gets worse, or you end up with serious and long-lasting injuries.

At Crooks, Low & Connell, S.C,  our family law attorneys regularly assist victims who are attempting to navigate the restraining order process and are afraid of what might happen to them if they do not succeed. For more information or to set up an initial consultation, contact us online or at (715) 842-2291.