Can I get a restraining order?

April 19, 2009

Over the weekend, local media in my area have been focusing on the issue of domestic abuse in the wake of a fatal shooting on Friday in the town of Grand Chute.  http://tinyurl.com/c3u9rs 

Unfortunately, violence is far too often a component of the relationship between people involved in Family Court matters.  Both men and women can be victims of domestic violence, but the majority of victims who seek help are women. 

Wisconsin defines “domestic abuse” broadly, to include not only physical or sexual abuse, damage to property belonging to the victim, and even threats to cause harm.   One of the ways in which the law tries to protect victims as they try to move on with their lives is through the domestic abuse injunction.  In some jurisdictions, these are known as restraining orders or orders of protection.  The Wisconsin statute governing domestic abuse injunctions is Section 813.12, found at http://xrl.us/bepi94.

This statute governs who can file for a domestic abuse injunction, the procedures that will take place, what protection or relief a person can get from an injunction, how the injunction will be enforced and the penalties for violation of an injunction.  Generally, adult family members, household members, caregivers, spouses and former spouses, those in current or former dating relationships, and adults with whom the petitioner has a child in common may petition the court for relief if they have been victims of domestic abuse. 

Once a petition is filed, the Court will hold a hearing to determine whether the injunction will be granted.  Upon request, if there are grounds, the Court may enter what is called a Temporary Restraining Order, or “TRO.”  The TRO may be in place from the time the petition is filed until there can be a full hearing on the matter.

If you are a victim, and you do not have an attorney to assist you in obtaining an injunction, standardized court forms are available from the Wisconsin Court System at http://www.wicourts.gov/forms1/circuit.htm.  Also, local abuse shelters often have programs available to help victims obtain an injunction with or without the assistance of an attorney.  

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