Learn about restraining orders from award-winning Wisconsin family law attorneys
Your safety and well being is the most important thing to us. Learn the details of restraining orders in Wisconsin below.
Legally reviewed for accuracy by Attorney Kelly Dodd
The information provided does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Talk to a lawyer today for legal advice
If you are feeling unsafe and are looking for security, a restraining order can help you feel protected while you work with your attorney on your case.
When seeking a divorce – a violent partner can make an already difficult decision much harder. Especially if you are facing an abusive spouse or an ex-partner that makes you feel uncomfortable.
A restraining order can give you the distance you need to overcome your situation. If you’re afraid of what your partner may do during this painful time, reach out to our Wisconsin restraining order lawyers at Karp & Iancu, and we can help you get the protection you need to focus on your case.
How a restraining order works + restraining order rules
A restraining order prevents someone from continuing to engage conduct that constitutes domestic abuse or harassment. Violation of a restraining order will result in criminal charges.
Grounds for a restraining order
The grounds for a restraining order depend on the type of restraining order requested. See the different types of restraining order listed below for specific conduct that must be shown in court in order to issue a restraining order.
Are restraining orders public?
In Wisconsin, circuit court filings are public record. Wisconsin Circuit Court Access or CCAP is a record of almost all legal actions filed in each county. Restraining orders between adults are public record, however, the only information available online is the filing of a restraining order, the type of restraining order requested, and whether or not the restraining order was issued or dismissed.
How long does a restraining order last?
The typical length of harassment and domestic abuse restraining orders are a maximum of 4 years. Petitioners can request the restraining order be less than 4 years if they choose. In cases where there is a substantial risk that the respondent may commit first-degree intentional homicide under §940.01, 2nd-degree intentional homicide under §940.05, or sexual assault under §940.225 (1), (2), or (3) or 948.02 (1) or (2), against the petitioner.
Child abuse restraining orders are issued for a maximum of 2 years.
What if someone lies to get a restraining order?
Sometimes people lie to obtain a restraining order for a variety of reasons. If someone has lied to obtain a restraining order against you, you will need to present evidence to the court to prove that the allegations against you did not occur, or that the petitioner is or has a history of being untruthful. Often, neither party in a restraining order action has proof, so it becomes a “he said/she said” situation. The court then determines which party is more credible and will decide in favor of the more believable party. Therefore, hiring a restraining order attorney in Wisconsin may be very important, especially if there is no evidence to prove or disprove the allegations.
What happens if you violate a restraining order?
Violation of a restraining order is a criminal offense. The law holds that “a respondent who knowingly violates a TRO or restraining order issued after a hearing shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned for not more than 9 months, or both.”
A restraining order is a civil matter and has several interchangeable names in Wisconsin. Restraining orders are also known as injunctions or orders of protection. A criminal court may issue a no-contact order prohibiting an individual from contacting the victim of the alleged crime. This is not the same as a restraining order, because a no-contact order is issued in a criminal matter at the request of the State of Wisconsin, not an individual.
In Wisconsin, the term “protective order” is used to describe an order prohibiting a party from using certain evidence at trial and is not related to restraining orders at all.
A temporary restraining order or TRO can be granted at the time of filing a Petition requesting a restraining order if a judge or court commissioner finds reasonable grounds to believe that the respondent has engaged in harassment or domestic abuse, depending on the type of restraining order requested. It is important to note that the granting of a TRO is done ex parte, or without hearing, and is based solely on the petitioner’s allegations set forth in the Petition.
For a civil harassment restraining order to be granted, the Court must find reasonable grounds to believe that the respondent has engaged in harassment with intent to harass or intimidate the petitioner.
Harassment is defined as ANY of the following under Wis. Stat. §813.12 (1):
For a domestic violence restraining order to be granted, the Court must find reasonable grounds to believe the respondent has engaged in or based on prior conduct of the petitioner and the respondent, may engage in domestic abuse of the petitioner.
Domestic abuse is defined under Wis. Stat. §813.12 (1) (am) conduct engaged in by an adult family member OR adult household member, by an adult caregiver against an adult who is under the caregiver’s care, by an adult against his or her adult former spouse, by an adult again an adult whom the individual has or had a dating relationship, or by an adult against an adult with whom the person has a child in common.
Conduct constituting domestic abuse under the statute is defined as ANY of the following:
Intentional infliction of physical pain, physical injury or impairment of physical condition.
We're here to eliminate your risk of being in harm or danger. Schedule a confidential consultation with us or complete the form below.
We'll gather evidence and get prepared to protect you and your family.
We'll file papers and evidence so it can be reviewed by the county court.
There are several forms that need to be filed in order to request a restraining order. The forms required are different depending on what type of restraining order is requested. You can obtain the forms online or from a restraining order attorney in Wisconsin.
Often there is no proof of harassment or domestic abuse. In these instances, the court must determine which party is more credible. Any documentation, photos, videos, recordings, or witnesses you can supply to the court will strengthen your case.
Yes, Wisconsin Courts allow the electronic filing of all civil actions.
A Temporary Restraining Order can be obtained almost immediately if the judge or court commissioner who reviews your petition believes there are reasonable grounds for granting it. A hearing to extend the TRO to a permanent (2-year or 4-year) injunction on a domestic abuse, child abuse, or harassment restraining order must be held within 14 days of the filing of the Petition, unless the time is extended for an additional 14 days by the court upon on written consent of both parties, if a new judge is requested, or if the respondent was unable to be served with the Petition.
Domestic abuse and child abuse injunctions do not require a filing fee. Harassment injunctions do not require a filing fee if the Petition alleges stalking, sexual assault, physical violence, impaired physical condition, or threats of the same. The cost of attorneys fees to represent you at an injunction hearing will vary based upon the allegations and the time needed to prepare for and present the evidence in court.
Before the court date?
Yes. You would simply contact the Clerk of Courts of the county in which you filed and inform the court that you wish to dismiss your Petition requesting a restraining order and ask that the court remove the hearing. The court will also dismiss your Petition if you fail to appear for the hearing.
After the court date?
Yes. In order to drop a restraining order that has been granted based on your Petition, you would need to contact the Clerk of Courts of the county in which you filed and find out the procedure for dropping the restraining order. Some counties may require a hearing to make sure you understand the implications of dropping the restraining order before the court will approve that request.
> Read more about contesting a restraining order in Wisconsin.
Yes, if the first hearing is held before a court commissioner, you have the option to request a “de novo review,” or new hearing before the judge. Both the petitioner and the respondent have this right. In the event the commissioner grants or dismisses the injunction, the non-prevailing party has 15 or 30 days (depending on the county, so be sure to check the county’s local rules!) to request a de novo review by filing a request with the judge. A new hearing will be set, and if the commissioner granted the restraining order, it will remain in effect until the date of the de novo hearing.
If a domestic abuse restraining order has been granted against you, you will have to surrender any firearms that you own. If a harassment restraining order has been granted against you, the court may require you to surrender any firearms that you own, depending on the circumstances. The court will set a hearing to surrender firearms and require the respondent to surrender any firearms owned to the sheriff of the county in which the restraining order was issued, the sheriff of the county in which the respondent resides, or to another person designated by the respondent and approved by the court.
We understand that the need for a restraining order alone can be stressful. If you have already suffered, or believe you are in danger, filing for a restraining order is necessary for you and your family’s protection. Our Wisconsin restraining order attorneys can help you get the paperwork needed to file, and guide you through the process and next steps. If your abuser or harasser tries to fight your restraining order, you will have our legal guidance on your side.
Reach out to us anytime by filling out the contact form below, or give us a call to set up a consultation. We want you to feel protected, and our lawyers are there to help guide you through the restraining order process.
Our number one priority is to ensure the protection and well being of our clients. We've also won awards for cases involving the following practice areas of family law in Wisconsin:
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