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Know the Laws: Wyoming

UPDATED December 23, 2016

Domestic Violence Orders of Protection

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A domestic violence order of protection is a civil order that provides protection from harm by a member of your household.

Basic information

back to topWhat is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Wyoming?

This section defines domestic abuse for the purposes of getting an order of protection.

Under WY state law, "domestic abuse" is when a member of your household does any of the following things to you:

  • physically abuses you;
  • threatens to physically abuse you;
  • attempts to cause or causes physical harm or acts which unreasonably restrain your personal liberty (i.e., forcibly holding you down);
  • puts you in fear of immediate physical harm;
  • makes you reasonably afraid that s/he is going to physically hurt you in the near future; or
  • makes you have sex or engage in sexual activity by force, threat of force or duress (pressure or coercion).*

If you are being stalked, you may qualify for an order of protection against stalking.

 * Wyoming Code 35-21-102(a)(iii)

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back to topWhat types of domestic violence orders of protection are there? How long do they last?

There are 2 types of domestic violence orders of protection in WY.  If a judge believes you are in danger of further abuse, s/he can issue an ex parte temporary order of protection.  "Ex parte" is Latin for "from one side," which means that the abuser is not notified ahead of time that the order is being issued and is not present in court. This temporary order will last only until your full court hearing when the abuser has an opportunity to tell his/her side, usually within 72 hours.*

A final domestic violence order of protection lasts up to 1 year and may be renewed multiple times for additional periods of time up to 1 year each.** To get a final order, you will have a hearing in front of a judge. Both you and the abuser will have an opportunity to tell your sides of the story at this hearing.

* Wyoming Code 35-21-104
** Wyoming Code 35-21-106

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back to topHow can a domestic violence order of protection help me?

An order of protection can order the abuser:

  • not to abuse you;
  • to move out, if you live together and grant you temporary possession of your shared residence;
  • to provide you with temporary suitable alternative housing, if you don't have use of the house;
  • not to contact you;
  • to stay away from where you live, work, and go to school;
  • to pay child support and temporary support for you;
  • not to abduct, remove or conceal any child in your custody;
  • not to sell your possessions or any shared possessions;
  • to attend counseling for the term of the order of protection and any extention the judge decides necessary (up to 1 year);
  • to pay for any medical costs due to the abuse (Note: You may also be able to sue for other losses suffered as a result of the abuse, including moving expenses or loss of earnings - see WY Suing Your Abuser for more info);
  • to do or not to do anything else that will keep you safe.*
As part of an order, you can also get temporary custody of your children. The judge can give the abuser visitation only if protections can be arranged for the safety of you and your children. For example, the judge can:
  • order the children to be exchanged in a protected setting;
  • order that visitation be arranged and supervised by another person or agency, and if the other person is a family or household member, establish conditions to be followed during the visitation;
  • rder the respondent to attend and complete to the court's satisfaction a program of intervention or other counseling as a condition of visitation;
  • order the respondent to not drink alcohol or use drugs for up to 24 hours before the visitation and during the visitation;
  • order the respondent to pay a fee through the court towards the costs of supervised visitation;
  • prohibit overnight visitation;
  • require the respondent to post a bond (place money with the court) to secure the return and safety of your children; or
  • order anything else to keep you, the children or anoother family or household member safe.*

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

* Wyoming Code 35-21-105(a),(b)

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back to topIn which county can I file for a domestic violence order of protection?

You can file a petition in the circuit court in the county where you live.  If there is no circuit court in your county, you can file the petition in the district court.*

* Wyoming Code § 35-21-102(a)(ii); § 35-21-103(a)

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Who can get an order of protection

back to topWho is eligible for a domestic violence order of protection?

Someone who is abused by a "household member" may apply for an order.  A household member is defined as:

  • your husband or wife;
  • your ex-husband or ex-wife;
  • someone you live or have lived with (as if you were married);
  • your parent;
  • your "adult child" (which means the child is age 16 or over or legally married);
  • other adults that you live with ("adult" means age 16 or over or legally married);
  • someone with whom you have a child in common; or
  • someone you are dating or dated in the past.*

Note: If you are under 16 years old and need an order of protection, your parent can file on your behalf.

If you do not qualify for a domestic violence order of protection, you may qualify for an order of protection against stalking or sexual assault.

* Wyoming Code § 35-21-102(a)(i),(iv)

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back to topCan I get a domestic violence order for protection against a same-sex partner?

In Wyoming, you may apply for a domestic violence order of protection against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Who is eligible for a domestic violence order of protection?  You must also be the victim of an act of domestic abuse, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Wyoming?

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back to topHow much does it cost? Do I need an attorney?

There is no fee for filing for an order of protection in Wyoming and you do not need an attorney.  However, you may want to hire an attorney, especially if the abuser has one.  If you have an attorney, the judge may order the abuser to pay reasonable attorney's fees -- whether the attorney is court appointed or hired by you.*

If you cannot find a lawyer, you may wish to have someone from a domestic violence agency in your area go with you. You can find information for help in your area on our WY Where to Find Help page.

* Wyoming Code § 35-21-103(d),(h)

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Steps for getting an order of protection

back to topStep 1: Go to the courthouse.

You can file for an order of protection at your circuit court clerk’s office.  If there is no circuit court clerk office in your area, you may go to the district court clerk’s office.*  Go to the WY Courthouse Locations page to find a court in your area.

It is sometimes helpful to bring the following information about the abuser with you, if you have it:

  • a photo of the abuser;
  • addresses of where s/he lives and works;
  • his/her phone number;
  • a description what his/her car looks like and the license plate number.
Bring some form of ID for yourself, if you have it, for when the petition gets notarized in court.

* Wyoming Code § 35-21-103(a)

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back to topStep 2: Get the forms.

Wyoming has a packet of information and forms. You will find them at the courthouse. You can also check for forms online at our WY Download Court Forms page.

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back to topStep 3: Fill out the forms.

On the petition, you will be called the “petitioner” and the abuser will be called the “respondent.”

Carefully fill out the petition. Be specific. Write briefly about the incidents of violence, using descriptive language (slapping, hitting, grabbing, threatening, etc.) that fits your situation. Include details and dates, if possible.

Before you sign the forms, check with the court clerk so you can sign it in front of a notary. Once you're finished, give the forms to the clerk.

You shouldn't be asked to pay anything.

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back to topStep 4: Hearing for a temporary order

After you finish filling out your petition, the court clerk will bring it to a judge.  The judge will look it over and may want to ask you some questions.  If the judge believes that there is a danger of further abuse to you, the judge is supposed to give you a temporary order of protection.*  The temporary order is supposed to protect you until you can have a final hearing.  The court is supposed to arrange for service of the temporary order regardless of whether the abuser lives in WY or out of state.**

Whether a judge grants you a temporary order or not, you will usually be given a court date for a final hearing within 72 hours of filing your petition.  If a final hearing cannot be scheduled within 72 hours, it will be scheduled as soon as possible afterwards.***  The court will give you a piece of paperwork marked "Notice of Hearing." The Notice of Hearing will have the time and date of your final hearing written on it.

* WY ST § 35-21-104(a)(i)
** WY ST § 35-21-104(a)(ii)
*** WY ST § 35-21-104(a)(iii),(iv)

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back to topStep 5: Service of process

The abuser must be served (given) papers that give him/her your temporary restraining order (if the judge gave you one) and inform him/her about the hearing date.  The clerk of court can give you information on how the abuser will be served but according to WY law, the court is supposed to arrange for service of the temporary order regardless of whether the abuser lives in WY or out of state.*

If the respondent is not served before your hearing, ask the judge to reschedule the hearing.  Be sure to also ask the judge to extend your temporary order if you have one.

* WY ST § 35-21-104(a)(ii)

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back to topStep 6: Hearing for a final order of protection

Before you can get a final order of protection, you will need to have a hearing in front of a judge. The abuser will also have the chance to be there.  You must go to the hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order will expire and you will have to start the process over.

To get a domestic violence order for protection, you must:

  1. Prove that the respondent has committed acts of domestic violence (as defined by the law) against you; and
  2. Convince a judge that you need protection and the specific things you asked for in your petition.
For information on what counts as domestic violence in an order of protection hearing, see What is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Wyoming?

See the Preparing your Case section under the Preparing for Court tab at the top of this page for ways you can show the judge that you were abused.

If the abuser does not show up for the hearing, the judge may still grant you an order of protection, or reschedule the hearing.  If the hearing is rescheduled, be sure to ask the judge to have your temporary order extended until that date.  If you show up to court and the abuser has a lawyer and you do not, you may ask the judge for a continuance to set a later court date so you can have time to find a lawyer for yourself.  To find a lawyer in your area, please visit our WY Finding a Lawyer page.

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After the hearing

back to topWhat should I do when I leave the courthouse?

These are some things you may want to consider after you have been granted a protective order.  Depending on what you think is safest in your situation, you may do any or all of the following:

  • Review the order before you leave the courthouse.  If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk how to correct the order before you leave.
  • Make several copies of the protective order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • You might want to inform your employer, clergy, family members, and/or your closest friends that you have a protective order in effect so that they can be aware of the restrictions on the abuser.
  • 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 along with a photo of the abuser.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • You may wish to consider changing your locks and your phone number.

Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order.  Many abusers obey protective orders, but some do not and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  Click on the following link for suggestions about Staying Safe.  Advocates at local resource centers can help you design a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.  You can find an advocate in your area on the WY State and Local Programs page.

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back to topI did not get an order of protection. What can I do?

If you are not granted an order of protection, there are still some things you can do to stay safe. It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence resource centers in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you come up with a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need. You will find a list of Wyoming resources on our WY Where to Find Help page. You will also find information on safety planning on our Staying Safe page.

You may also be able to reapply for an order of protection if you have new evidence to show the court that domestic abuse did occur, or if a new incident of domestic abuse happens after you are denied the order.

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back to topWhat can I do if the abuser violates the order?

You can call the police immediately, even if you think it is a minor violation.  The "willful violation" of a temporary or final order of protection can be a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail, a fine of up to $750.00, or both.*  

The abuser can also be held in contempt of court for violating the court order and punished by the judge.  To file for contempt, you would file a motion and affidavit for an order to show cause in the court that issued the order of protection. 

 * Wyoming Code §§ 35-21-106(c); 6-4-404

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back to topHow do I change, cancel or extend my order?

Either you or the abuser can file in court to modify (change), terminate (cancel) or extend the order.  

To change or cancel your order, either you or the abuser can return to the court that gave the original order and ask a judge to change or cancel it.  You or the abuser will have to explain to a judge why the order should or should not be changed or canceled. If the abuser asks to have the order changed or canceled, there will be a hearing.  You should go the hearing and explain why a judge should not change or cancel it.

The order may be extended multiple times once upon a showing of "good cause" for additional periods of time, not to exceed 1 year (for each extension).*  If you would like to extend your order, you will need to return to the court clerk's office to file for an extension before your order expires. 

 * Wyoming Code § 35-21-106(b)

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