Spousal Abuse and Family Law Violence Remain Serious Problems
Unfortunately, spousal abuse and family violence remain serious problems in Wisconsin and throughout the United States. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) estimates that one in three women (33 percent) and one in four men (25 percent) of men will experience some form of intimate partner violence during their lifetime. Sadly, some people face severe and persistent abuse. Restraining orders obtained through the family court system are designed to provide some much needed protection to victims.
What is a Restraining Order?
A restraining order is effectively a type of legal order that prevents a party from engaging in a particular action. As defined by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, a family violence restraining order compels “someone not to hurt you, to stay away from you, move out of the house, have no contact with you, or stop harassing you”
An Overview of the Different Types of Restraining Orders
All family law and family violence cases involve their own unique set of facts and circumstances. Not all restraining orders are identical. Here is an overview of the different types of restraining order that could be put in place by a court in Wisconsin:
- Temporary Restraining Order (TRO): A temporary restraining order (TRO) is effectively a preliminary restraining order. In Wisconsin, a court can put a TRO in place based solely on allegations. A TRO can take effect without a hearing. These short-term orders are designed to provide immediate protection to people alleging violence, threats, or harassment.
- Civil Harassment Restraining Order: A civil harassment restraining order is a type of legal order designed to prohibit any harassment of the petitioner. Wisconsin law defines harassment relatively broadly, including threats and intimidation.
- Domestic Abuse Restraining Order: Under Wisconsin law (Wis. Stat. §813.12 (1)), domestic abuse is defined as any physical violence or abuse by an adult family/household member against another adult family/household member. If a court finds reasonable grounds to believe that the respondent (alleged perpetrator) has committed an act of domestic abuse, it can put a domestic violence restraining order in place.
An Overview of the Process to Get Restraining Order in Wisconsin
A person who was the victim of domestic abuse, family violence, or actionable threats of harm, can start the process of obtaining a restraining order by completing and filing the necessary paperwork to get a temporary restraining order (TRO). When one files for a TRO, they will be known as the petitioner. The party that they are seeking a TRO against is the respondent.
In Wisconsin, a court can approve a temporary restraining order based on allegations alone. As long as the petitioner presents sufficient and credible allegations, the court will grant a maximum 14-day temporary protective order. A full hearing will be scheduled on the matter. The respondent will have an opportunity to present their side of the case at the full hearing.
At a hearing, the petitioner will generally seek a full and final restraining order. In Wisconsin, final restraining orders last for up to two to four years, depending on the type of case. If you have any questions about the process for restraining orders, our Madison restraining orders attorneys are available to help.
Restraining Orders in Wisconsin: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the Legal Definition of Domestic Abuse in Wisconsin?
In Wisconsin, domestic violence is defined to include any or all of the following:
- Causing intentional physical pain or injury to another party;
- Sexual assault or other unwanted sexual contact;
- Stalking and severe harassment; and
- Intentional destruction of a person’s property; and
- Actionable threats of any of the aforementioned things.
How Do Courts Make Decisions in Restraining Order Hearings?
While a TRO can take effect based on the petitioner’s allegations, both parties have the right to make their case at a final restraining order hearing. In evaluating these cases, Wisconsin courts will consider all evidence deemed relevant. Whether you are seeking a restraining order or defending yourself against a restraining order, it is crucial that you present a well-supported case.
Can the Petitioner Drop a Restraining Order in Wisconsin?
Yes. The party filing for a restraining order—whether they have or have not had their court hearing—has the right to take action to drop their request. Courts provide some general deference to petitioners who wish to drop a restraining order. Though, if a final order is already in place, another hearing may be required to get the restraining order dropped.
Why Choose the Madison Family Lawyers at Karp & Iancu
Family law violence cases are stressful and overwhelming. They must have handled it with the utmost care. At Karp & Iancu, S.C., we have a comprehensive understanding of the restraining order laws and restraining order process in Wisconsin. You do not have to navigate the system all by yourself. Among other things, our Madison family law attorneys are prepared to:
- Listen to your story and answer any questions that you have;
- Investigate the matter, gathering and organizing relevant information;
- Take action to help you obtain (or defend yourself against) a restraining order; and
- Provide well-rounded family law support focused on your safety, rights, and interests.