If you are afraid for your safety, you have the right to protect yourself and can file for a restraining order and/or an injunction. Restraining orders, which are issued by state courts, are temporary orders that set restrictions on the person you fear. The restraining orders can mandate that the person may not contact you for any reason, could set limits as to how close the person can get to you or bar the person from coming to your home, workplace, etc.
In Wisconsin, there are four types of restraining orders:
- Domestic abuse orders — for victims of domestic abuse, which includes physical harm, stalking, sexual assault, threats and destruction of property
- Child abuse orders — for minor children who have been abused, be it physical or sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or neglect
- Harassment orders — for individuals being harassed by friends, neighbors, coworkers, strangers
- Elder at risk orders — for elders at risk of abuse
In order to get a restraining order, you must complete a form to petition for an order. Although these forms are available online, we recommend you seek the advice of legal counsel throughout the process to ensure your rights are protected and that you are properly represented in court. When completing the form, you will be required to explain why you are seeking the order and list examples of the abuse or harassment. The paperwork is then filed with the court where the judge reviews the documents and may ask questions. In instances where the judge determines you are in immediate, serious danger a 14-day temporary restraining order can be put into place.
To obtain an injunction, you must attend a court hearing. Both you and the abuser will have the opportunity to make statements and present evidence. Again, we highly recommend you retain a lawyer to ensure you can put forth a strong case that will ensure you are protected.
It’s important to note that if you move to another state it’s always best to check with the state to see if they have rules about registering or filing an out-of-state order.