Whether you are initiating a divorce or simply need relief from abuse, a Milwaukee restraining orders attorney can help. Wisconsin has made it easier to obtain one of these orders, but our legal experience often makes the difference.
How a Restraining Order Works
At its simplest, a restraining order is a judicial order telling a person not to do certain things. Because a judge orders it, any violation can result in “contempt,” and a judge can impose certain penalties for violating the order.
A restraining order must be served on the person being restrained. But, once they have notice, they must follow the restraining order to the letter.
Duration of Restraining Orders
You can ask for a duration of any length. However, the maximum length of a harassment or domestic abuse restraining order is 4 years. A child abuse restraining order lasts a maximum of 2 years.
What Are the Different Types of Restraining Orders?
You should know the different types so you can request the correct one:
Domestic Abuse Restraining Orders
This type of restraining order covers abuse committed by any of the following:
- Adult family members
- Adult household members
- Adult caregivers against a person under their care
- Adults against a person they have a child with
- Adults against someone they have had a dating relationship with
As you can see, this restraining order is not limited to abuse committed by a romantic partner. Instead, you can seek this restraining order against any adult in your home.
You must also establish you have been the victim of domestic abuse, such as:
- Sexual assault
- Intentional infliction of physical injury, pain, or impairment
- Damage to property
- Threats to commit any of the above
Child Abuse Restraining Order
Minor children can receive a restraining order if they are victims of “child abuse” as defined by Wisc. Stat. §48.02, which includes:
- Intentional physical injury
- Sexual exploitation
- Sexual intercourse or sexual contact
- Exposure of genitals
- Emotional damage which parents/guardians refused to have treated
- Manufacture of methamphetamine in the child’s home or around the child
Civil Harassment Restraining Orders
Our clients seek this restraining order when they are the victim of harassment with the intent to intimidate or harass. If you don’t qualify for a domestic abuse restraining order, then you might seek a civil harassment order.
Under Wisc. Stat. § 813.12(1), you must show the following type of harassment:
- Kicking, shoving, striking, or making other physical contact, or attempting to
- Committing or attempting to commit sexual assault as defined under §940.225
- Engaging in or attempting to engage in child abuse as defined by §48.02
- Committing repeated acts which harass or intimidate another person for no legitimate purpose
What is a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)?
A judge or court commissioner can issue a TRO when you file a petition requesting one of the restraining orders listed above. A TRO immediately goes into effect—although it is temporary. It lasts only until you have a hearing on your request for a permanent injunction. Most TROs are granted ex parte, which means without the benefit of a hearing.
If you are subject to a TRO, you must comply with it, even if you think a judge granted it unfairly or if you believe your partner is lying. You will have a day in court to tell your side of the story, but until then you must follow the TRO.
How to Obtain a Restraining Order
We recommend taking the following steps:
- Gather proof of abuse or harassment. You will need evidence that your abuser has harmed you or threatened to harm you. Evidence can include pictures, witness testimony, medical records, and police reports.
- Fill out forms. Wisconsin has standardized the process and made forms available online. Your Milwaukee restraining orders lawyer will also have forms.
- File the forms. You can do this electronically now.
- Prepare for your hearing. Although you can get a temporary TRO immediately, the court should schedule a hearing to take place within 14 days to decide whether to grant a permanent injunction.
- Attend the hearing. A judge will take evidence from both sides, and you probably will testify.
If a judge refuses your request, then you might be able to appeal. Talk about this with your Milwaukee restraining orders attorney.
How to Fight a Restraining Order
If you are accused of abuse, you also should hire an attorney to defend you. A restraining order comes with many conditions that people naturally wish to avoid, such as a requirement to turn over any firearms. Restraining orders can also complicate your living situation or ability to see your children.
Preparation for a hearing is key. Sometimes, a couple engages in mutual pushing or shoving. But there is a question as to who started the fight. You have a right to reasonably protect yourself against an attack, even from a family member.
Judges often must decide between conflicting stories. The more evidence you have, the better. The best evidence is a neutral witness to any incident, like a neighbor.
If you violate any condition of a restraining order, the police can arrest you. A judge can also impose a fine or put you in jail for 9 months, or both. These are orders you must take seriously.
Getting Back Together with a Restraining Order
After a fight, one partner might run to court to get a restraining order only to turn around and decide to reconcile. Sounds easy, right?
Unfortunately, if you are subject to the order, you can still be arrested and punished if you violate any of the conditions, such as coming within a certain distance of your partner. This is true even if your partner wants to get back together. Continue to abide by the restraining order until the person who requested it contacts the court to get it dropped.