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Know the Laws: Wisconsin

UPDATED June 22, 2017

Enforcing an Out-of-State Order in Wisconsin

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If you are planning to move to Wisconsin or are going to be in Wisconsin for any reason, your protection or restraining order can be enforced.

General rules for out-of-state orders in Wisconsin

back to topCan I get my protection order enforced in Wisconsin? What are the requirements?

Yes. Your protection order can be enforced in Wisconsin 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 topCan I have my out-of-state protection order changed, extended, or canceled in Wisconsin?

No. Only the state that issued your protection order can change, extend, or cancel the order. You cannot have this done by a court in Wisconsin.

To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued. You may be able to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where the abuser is living.  To find out more information about how to modify a restraining order, see the Restraining Orders page for the state where your order was issued.

If your order does expire while you are living in Wisconsin, you may be able to get a new one issued in Wisconsin but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred in Wisconsin.  To find out more information on how to get a protective order in Wisconsin, visit our WI Domestic Abuse Restraining Orders page. 

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back to topI was granted temporary custody with my protection order. Will I still have temporary custody of my children in Wisconsin?

Yes.  As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,* Wisconsin can enforce a temporary custody order that is a part of a protection order.

To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets these standards, contact a lawyer in your area.  To find a lawyer in your area click here WI Finding a Lawyer.

* The federal laws are the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980.

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Registering your out-of-state order in Wisconsin

back to topWhat is the National Crime Information Center Registry? Who has access to it?

The National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC) is a nationwide, electronic database used by law enforcement agencies in the U.S, Canada, and Puerto Rico. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.

All law enforcement officials have access to it, but the information is encrypted so outsiders cannot access it.

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back to topHow do I register my protection order in Wisconsin?

To register your order in WI, you need to take a certified copy of the order to any circuit court clerk’s office.  It is also a good idea to bring the contact information (address and telephone number) of the court that gave you the order in case there are any questions.  The clerk will file your order and send a copy to the local law enforcement agency within one business day, and the law enforcement agency will enter the order into the transaction information for management of enforcement system within 24 hours.*

If you need help registering your protection order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Wisconsin for assistance. You can find contact information for organizations in your area here on our WI State and Local Programs page. 

* Wis. Stat. § 806.247(3)

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back to topDo I have to register my protection order in Wisconsin in order to get it enforced?

No.  As long as you can show the officer a valid out-of-state protection order (or the law enforcement officer determines that a valid foreign protection order exists by contacting the appropriate authorities), s/he can arrest the abuser if there is probable cause to believe that the abuser violated the terms of the order.  A certified copy of the protection order is not required for it to be enforced.*

* Wis. Stat. § 813.128(3g)(b)(1),(3)

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back to topWill the abuser be notified if I register my protection order?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.*  However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to.  It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living.  We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Staying Safe page.  You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our WI State and Local Programs page.

* 18 USC § 2265(d)

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back to topDoes it cost anything to register my protection order?

No. There is no fee for registering your protection order in Wisconsin.

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back to topWhat if I don't register my protection order? Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?

It should not be more difficult to get your protection order enforced even if you do not register it in Wisconsin.  As long as you can show the officer a valid out-of-state protection order (or the law enforcement officer determines that a valid foreign protection order exists by contacting the appropriate authorities), s/he can arrest the abuser if there is probable cause to believe that the abuser violated the terms of the order.*

If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area. An advocate there can help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in Wisconsin. To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in Wisconsin, go to our WI  State and Local Programs page.

* Wis. Stat. § 813.128(3g)(b)(1)

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