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Restraining Orders in Wisconsin

Jump to a section:
What is a restraining order?  | How to get a restraining order in Wisconsin | Cost of a restraining order | Dropping a restraining order

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 lawyers at Karp & Iancu, and we can help you get the protection you need to focus on your case.

What is a restraining order?

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 an attorney 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.”

Types of restraining orders

Protective Order vs Restraining Order

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.

Temporary restraining order

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.

Civil harassment restraining order

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):

  • Striking, shoving, kicking or otherwise subjecting another person to physical contact; engaging in child abuse as defined by §48.02 (1), sexual assault under §940.225, stalking under §940.32; or attempting or threatening to do the same.
  • Engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts which harass or intimidate another person, and which serve no legitimate purpose.

Domestic abuse restraining order

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.

  • Sexual assault as defined by §940.225 (1), (2) or (3).
  • Stalking as defined by §940.32.
  • Damage to property as defined by §943.01, involving property that belongs to the victim.
  • A threat to engage in any of the above.

How to get a restraining order in Wisconsin

How to file a restraining order

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 an attorney.

What proof do you need to get a restraining order?

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.

Can I file a restraining order online?

Yes, Wisconsin Courts allow the electronic filing of all civil actions.

How long does it take to get a restraining order?

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.

How much does a restraining order cost?

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.

Can you drop a restraining order?

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.

What if the court decides against me at the hearing? Is there anything I can do?

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 restraining order is granted against me, will I lose my right to possess a firearm?

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.

Get Help Filing For a Restraining Order

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 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.

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Location &contact

Milwaukee/Tosa – 933 N Mayfair Rd, Suite 300, Milwaukee, WI 53226

Fox Point – 8651 N. Port Washington Rd. Suite A, Fox Point, WI 53217

Downtown Milwaukee – 1433 N Water St, Floor 4 – Suite 428, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Menomonee Falls – 11414 W Park Pl – Suite 202, Milwaukee, WI 53224

Brookfield – 200 S. Executive Drive, Suite 101, Brookfield, WI 53005

Waukesha – N19 W24400 Riverwood Dr Suite 350, Waukesha, WI 53188

Kenosha – 1213 55th Street Suite 101 Kenosha, WI 53140

Appleton – 5497 W Waterford Ln Suite E Appleton, WI 54913

West Bend18 E Washington St. Suite B West Bend, WI 53090

Madison – 811 E Washington Ave. Suite 418, Madison, WI 53703

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