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Know the Laws: Wisconsin

UPDATED June 22, 2017

Moving to Another State with a Restraining Order

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If you are moving out of state or are going to be out of the state for any reason, your restraining order can still be enforceable.

General rules

back to topCan I get my restraining order from Wisconsin enforced in another state?

Yes. If you have a valid Wisconsin restraining order that meets federal standards, it can be enforced in another state.  The Violence Against Women Act, which is a federal law, states that all valid Domestic Abuse Restraining Orders granted in the United States receive "full faith and credit" in all state and tribal courts within the US, including US territories.  See How do I know if my domestic abuse restraining order is good under federal law? to find out if your restraining order qualifies.

Each state must enforce out-of-state restraining orders in the same way it enforces its own orders.  Meaning, if the abuser violates your out-of-state restraining order, s/he will be punished according to the laws of whatever state you are in when the order is violated.  This is what is meant by "full faith and credit."  In order to make this even clearer, all Wisconsin domestic abuse, harassment, child abuse and individual at risk restraining orders say that they are valid and enforceable in every state.*

* Wis. Stat. §§ 813.12(9), 813.122(12), 813.123(12), 813.125(8)

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back to topHow do I know if my restraining order is good under federal law?

A restraining order is good anywhere in the United States as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.*
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.**

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

* 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
** 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

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back to topI have a temporary (ex parte) restraining order. Can it be enforced in another state?

Yes. An ex parte temporary order can be enforced in other states as long as it meets the requirements listed in How do I know if my restraining order is good under federal law?*

Note: The state where you are going generally cannot extend your ex parte temporary order or issue you a permanent order when the temporary one expires. If you need to extend your temporary order, you will have to contact the state that issued the order and arrange to be at the hearing in person or by telephone (if that is an option offered by the court). However, you may be able to reapply for one in the new state that you are moving to if you meet the requirements for getting a protective order in that state – but, if you apply for one in a new state, the abuser would know what state you are living in, which may put you in danger.

* 18 U.S.C. § 2265(b)(2)

 

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back to topDo I need to tell the court in Wisconsin if I move?

You are not required to tell the court in Wisconsin you move, but it might be a good idea to give the court a current address so that you can be notified if your abuser appeals your restraining order.  If you provide your new address to the court, they will keep it confidential.*

* Wis. Stat. § 813.12(5m)

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Getting your Wisconsin restraining order enforced in another state

back to topHow do I get my restraining order enforced in another state?

 

Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your restraining order enforced in another state.

Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid restraining order is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.* Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state. You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our State and Local Programs page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.

 

Note: It is important to keep a copy of your restraining order with you at all times. It is also a good idea to know the rules of states you will be living in or visiting to ensure that your out-of-state order can be enforced in a timely manner.

* 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

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back to topDo I need anything special to get my restraining order enforced in another state?

In some states, you will need a certified copy of your restraining order. A certified copy says that it is a "true and correct" copy; it is signed and initialed by the clerk of court that gave you the order, and usually has some kind of court stamp on it. In Wisconsin, a certified order has a stamp on it with a docket and case number.

The copy you originally received should have been a certified copy. However, if your copy is not a certified copy, go to the court that gave you the order and ask the clerk's office for a certified copy. It generally costs $3 plus $1 per page to get a certified copy of a WI restraining order. 

Note: It is a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times. You will also want to bring several copies of the order with you when you move. Leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children's school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on. Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work. Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order. 

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back to topCan I get someone to help me? Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to get your restraining order enforced in another state.

However, you may want to get help from a local domestic violence advocate or attorney in the state that you move to. A domestic violence advocate can let you know what the advantages and disadvantages are for registering your restraining order, and help you through the process if you decide to do so.

To find a domestic violence advocate or an attorney in the state you are moving to, select your state from the drop-down menu on the top left-hand corner of this page, and click on the "Links and Resources" page.

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Enforcing custody provisions in another state

back to topI was granted temporary custody with my domestic abuse restraining order. Can I take my kids out of the state?

Maybe. It will depend on the exact wording of the custody provision in your Domestic Abuse Restraining Order. You may have to first seek the permission of the court before leaving. If your abuser was granted visitation rights with your children, then you may have to have the order changed, or show the court that there is a fair and realistic alternative to the current visitation schedule.

If you are unsure about whether or not you can take your kids out of the state, it is important to talk to a domestic violence advocate or lawyer who understands domestic violence and custody laws, and can help you make the safest decision for you and your children. You can find contact information for local domestic violence organizations and legal assistance in the WI area on our WI Where to Find Help page.

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back to topI was granted temporary custody with my domestic abuse restraining order.  Will another state enforce this custody order?

Yes. Custody, visitation, and child support provisions that are included in a Domestic Abuse Restraining Order can be enforced across state lines. Law enforcement and courts in another state are required by federal law to enforce these provisions.*

* 18 USC 2266

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