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Kevin O'Flaherty

There has been no substantial changes to Wisconsin order of protection laws for 2024. This article, will give an overview of the most up to date information on orders of protection in Wisconsin. It is important to note that a protective order can protect a wide range, from the person seeking the order to including all people residing in the person’s home benefiting from the order. This protection often includes a provision to safeguard the person’s home and place of business.

As of 2023, there have been a couple of amendments regarding protective orders for elders.  Learn more about the basics of protective orders, and learn more about the bills passed in years previous and what they mean.  

Filing a restraining order in Wisconsin

What is an Injunction?  

An injunction is a court-ordered remedy to instruct a party to do something. Often an injunction restrains a party from engaging in some behavior. The most common form of an injunction is protective order. Some protective orders include restraining orders and no-contact orders. These orders are used to preserve the peace and well-being of a party.  

A protective order is one of the many forms of injunctive relief that the Courts offer. A protective order often restrains a party from interacting with another party and other people around them.    

How Long do Protective Orders Last?  

Protective orders can vary in duration depending on who they protect and what type of order it is. A temporary protective/restraining order will last until the court can have a hearing between the parties. Once the court has entered a protective order, courts can extend it as necessary. Protective orders related to domestic abuse can last up to four (4) years and ten (10) years in some extraordinary cases. Protective orders relating to child abuse can last two (2) years.    

What is Protected by a Protective/Restraining Order?  

Protective order can protect a wide range. It can protect the person seeking the order. Still, it can include all people residing in the person’s home benefiting from the order. This protection often includes a provision to safeguard the person’s home and place of business. If children are covered under a protective order, their schools are often protected.

Legal Procedures for Obtaining a Restraining Order

Several legal procedures form part of the journey towards obtaining a harassment restraining order. The first step involves completing the necessary petition, which can be accomplished through the Forms Assistant online tool, followed by filing the court forms with the clerk in the circuit court.

Once the petition is submitted, the following steps occur:

  1. The sheriff personally delivers the restraining order to the respondent.
  2. Obtaining documented evidence of service is a crucial step for the court to proceed with the full hearing.
  3. The injunction hearing is a crucial stage, where both parties have the opportunity to present their evidence and testimony.
  4. Even if the alleged abuser is absent, a final injunction may still be issued.

Filing Essentials: Where and How

The process of filing for a restraining order necessitates the submission of appropriate forms to the court and adherence to specific procedures. Printed copies of temporary restraining order forms can be obtained at no cost from the Dane County Law Library, or they can be accessed online on the Wisconsin Law Library website or the Women’s Law website.

To file a restraining order in Wisconsin, individuals have the option to use the forms assistant on the Wisconsin Courts website for electronically completing a restraining order petition. This temporary restraining order can offer immediate protection until an injunction is approved. It’s important to note that these forms must be notarized before filing.

Presenting Your Case: Evidence and Hearings

The integral parts of obtaining a restraining order include presenting your case and attending hearings. It is crucial to furnish comprehensive justifications for the request of a restraining order, including specific details and dates of recent violent incidents.

Evidence such as:

  • police reports
  • witness statements
  • emails
  • texts
  • social media messages
  • any other relevant supporting documentation

is necessary when applying for a restraining order. It is important to remember that the court evaluates the credibility of parties based on the testimony and evidence presented.

Protections Granted by Wisconsin's Restraining Orders

Providing protection to individuals at risk of harm is the primary objective of restraining orders. A protection order has the capability to restrict the abuser from possessing firearms as a component of the protective measures.

These orders can provide:

  • Temporary restraining orders
  • Final injunctions
  • Provisions for the surrender of firearms
  • Restrictions on the abuser’s ability to purchase firearms

In a child abuse restraining order, the child victim can be protected by mandating the abuser to surrender firearms as a component of the final protective injunction.

Legal Support and Resources

Legal support and resources can be of immense help in the process of obtaining a restraining order. Attorneys can fulfill a vital role in assisting individuals in Wisconsin by aiding them in filing for protective orders and providing guidance through the legal proceedings.

Individuals can seek legal assistance from various resources in Wisconsin, including the Women’s Law Initiative, which offers legal aid for filing protection orders, and the WI Finding a Lawyer page for local lawyer referrals.

The Role of Legal Guardians and Advocates

In the process of obtaining a restraining order, legal guardians and advocates play a pivotal role. They may assist in:

  • Obtaining the restraining order
  • Offering support and guidance throughout the legal proceedings
  • Ensuring the safety and well-being of the person seeking the order.

Legal advocates can offer assistance in obtaining a restraining order in Wisconsin by providing guidance and support, aiding with paperwork, collecting evidence, and representing the individual in court. Furthermore, they can aid in gathering evidence, presenting a strong case, and challenging any unjust or false allegations against the individual, thereby increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Financial Considerations: Costs and Waivers

Although obtaining a restraining order can impose a financial burden, there exist methods to alleviate these costs. In Wisconsin, the Fee Waiver Documents can be utilized to waive the following fees:

  • GAL fees
  • Filing fees
  • Service Fees
  • Publication Fees

The Fee Waiver Documents can be obtained at the Law Library L1007. Upon submitting these documents, the fee waiver will undergo a thorough review and will be either approved or denied in accordance with established guidelines.

Enforcement and Violation Consequences

Police officer enforcing a restraining order

Ensuring the safety of protected individuals heavily relies on the enforcement of restraining orders. Law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin play a crucial role in the enforcement of restraining orders by ensuring that the parties involved are served with the order and for ensuring compliance with the terms of the order.

In the event of a violation of a restraining order, it is recommended to report the incident to the local law enforcement agency. Non-compliance with a restraining order in Wisconsin is deemed a criminal offense and is typically categorized as a misdemeanor, with potential variations based on the specific situation.

Law Enforcement Agency Involvement

The enforcement of restraining orders and the assurance of safety for protected individuals heavily rely on the role of law enforcement agencies. They take action based on probable cause of a violation of the order’s terms, and this involves verifying the existence of a restraining order and taking measures to address any violations.

Upon receiving a report of a restraining order violation, Wisconsin law enforcement officers are dispatched to the location. They are empowered to:

  • Apprehend and formally accuse the individual of violating the order
  • Maintain ongoing communication with victims
  • Provide them with support
  • Provide access to resources and referrals.

Remedies for Non-Compliance

Serious legal repercussions can result from non-compliance with a restraining order. In Wisconsin, a violation of a restraining order is deemed a criminal offense and is typically categorized as a misdemeanor.

The penalties for violating a restraining order may encompass fines of up to $10,000 and/or a maximum imprisonment of 9 months. These penalties underscore the gravity of adhering to the terms of the order.

Moving Forward: Relocating With a Restraining Order

For those seeking a fresh start, it is both possible and often necessary to relocate with a restraining order. Protection orders from other states, territories, and even Canada can be enforced in Wisconsin.

However, while moving can be a fresh start, it also brings new responsibilities. It is important to update court records with your new address to ensure continued communication and enforcement of the restraining order.

Interstate Recognition and Enforcement

Even if you move to a different state, a restraining order issued in Wisconsin can still provide protection. These orders can be enforced in another state, including temporary ex parte orders, provided they satisfy the requisite federal law criteria.

Upon relocating, it is advisable to inquire at a court or law enforcement agency in the new state for guidance on registration and enforcement. This ensures that you continue to have protection, no matter where you are.

Updating Court Records After Moving

Once you have relocated, it is recommended to update court records with your new address. This ensures that you will receive notifications in the event that the abuser decides to appeal the restraining order or for other legal proceedings.

To update court records in Wisconsin after relocating, an individual may be required to submit a motion to redact personal information from previous court documents. This process involves identifying the specific entries in the court record where personal information needs to be redacted.

Most Recent Updates to Elder Laws  

Wisconsin passed SB Bill 17 on August 9, 2021. It updates and amends some of the laws related to the protection of elders (any person at least 60 years of age) and the penalties regarding crimes against them. Some of the changes to elder law in Wisconsin include:  

  • Sexual assault or any sexual misconduct against an elder will now be deemed at least a Class B felony if the victim is 60 years of age, regardless of whether the perpetrator knew of the elder’s age.    
  • Creating a crime of physical abuse of an elder is similar to the current law of prohibition of physical abuse of a minor child. This law means that any person who commits physical abuse of an elder could be charged with a Class C felony for intentionally causing great bodily harm to a Class I felony for recklessly causing bodily harm.  
  • The court now has a procedure for freezing or seizing a person’s assets that have been found to have financially exploited an elder. Suppose a person commits financial exploitation of an elder, and the property is valued at more than $2500. In that case, a petition may be filed to freeze up to 100% of the amount found to be exploited of the person’s assets so that the victim may receive the appropriate restitution.    
  • This bill also increases the maximum imprisonment sentences related to crimes if it has been committed against an elder, regardless of whether a perpetrator knew that the victim was an elder.    
  • The most significant change is that any elder seeking a restraining order related to domestic violence, individual-at-risk, or harassment will be allowed to appear in court via telephone or any other audiovisual means permitted by the court.  

This bill bolsters the protection surrounding the well-being and care of elders. It provides ease of access for elders to advocate for themselves properly. Such a change is paramount as elders may have limited means to make it to court for cases where their presence is necessary.  

Elder abuse laws in Wisconsin

What is Kayleigh’s Law?  

SB Bill 519, known as “Kayleigh’s Law,” could mean substantial changes to the length of restraining orders. While this law is not currently in place, it is up for a vote soon in the Senate.    

This bill was initially passed in Arizona in April of 2021 after Kayleigh Kozak, a survivor of childhood sexual assault, advocated to increase the duration of her restraining orders after the restraining order against her abuser ended. After the order ended, Kayleigh realized there was no further protection for her or others like her.    

Victims that suffered from abuse and harassment had no form of protection or future redress once the restraining order had lapsed, allowing the perpetrator to come back into their lives and cause future and further harm to these victims. This was an issue that Kayleigh and other advocates of surviving abuse and harassment needed to solve. “Kayleigh’s Law” does just that. Kayleigh’s law would mandate that restraining orders be permanent.    

Kayleigh would like to enact this bill statewide to advocate for the protection of those that need long-term protection from their abusers. While it has not yet been voted on, this type of legislation is exciting as it focuses on the well-being of victims in a way that provides them with peace of mind. We will be watching this bill closely to see how far it reaches and if lifetime restraining orders become an option for protection.  

You do not have to live in fear or let your loved ones suffer from abuse or harassment. Wisconsin attorneys can help you every step of the way. If you need assistance filing a protective order, please call us at (630)-324-6666 or fill out our confidential contact form. A member of our team will be in touch with you.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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