An order of protection, also known as a restraining order or a protection order, is a court order which can give you protection from someone who feel threatened by as a result of domestic abuse, harassment, or stalking. In order to file for an order of protection in Wisconsin, you do not need to hire a lawyer and you may not necessarily be required to pay a fee.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, obtaining an order of protection in this state can be done without the benefit of a lawyer, if you cannot afford one. Local domestic violence agencies or the courthouse may be able to refer you to free or affordable legal assistance. Instead, you must prepare a legal form, which is available in print form at the courthouse, but which can also be downloaded from the Wisconsin courts website. The court dispenses four different forms for protection: child abuse, domestic abuse, harassment, and other individuals at risk.
Which form you fill out depends upon your situation; you can only fill out one. Domestic abuse restraining orders apply to cases in which you are an adult and have been assaulted, hurt, or threatened by a blood relative, your spouse, or your partner, if you’re not married. Children who are under 18 must fill out the child abuse restraining order. If these specific situations don’t apply, the Department of Justice says that the harassment restraining order can be used in any case where you have been hurt, stalked, assaulted, or threatened by a person with whom you do not have a family or spousal relationship. Finally, seniors (defined as over 60 years old) may obtain a special individual at risk restraining order for protection from physical, emotional, or financial abuse.
Make sure to fill out all sections of the child abuse restraining order, domestic abuse restraining order, harassment restraining order, or individual at risk restraining order. If you are unsure how to fill out a section, the court clerk, a legal aid service, or a local domestic violence agency can help you.
Once you have obtained and completed the forms, they must be taken to a county judge or a family court commissioner, who will conduct a hearing, asking questions about what has happened and why you feel you need an order of protection. They may issue a temporary restraining order, which is valid for 14 days, and then order a full hearing. In the meantime, the paperwork will be served on the person you have requested the order against so that they can attend the full hearing and learn of the judge’s decision. A police officer can serve these papers for you. Under the temporary order of protection, the person in question must not be near you until the next hearing.
At that hearing, the judge will determine whether to lift the temporary order of protection, or whether to issue a new order of protection. Bring whatever evidence you can to make your case convincing, including any threatening letters, emails, voicemail messages, and text messages, as well as witnesses, such as other family members or close friends who can testify to the fact that you have been hurt or threatened.
The judge’s next decision will be either to dismiss your case, or issue a full injunction, at which the temporary restraining order is made permanent. The judge will determine how long the order will be in force, which may be up to four years. The judge may also ask if you wish to have any specific exceptions written into the terms of the order, such as arrangements for discussing your children, finances, or other concerns.
Full information about how to file for an order of protection in Wisconsin is available from the Wisconsin Department of Justice and from WomensLaw.org. If you feel you may need to get an order of protection in Wisconsin, you could consider asking for legal advice, even though if it is not strictly necessary in order to get the order. In addition, if you feel you are in immediate and urgent danger, call the police.