What is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Wisconsin?
Domestic abuse in Wisconsin includes the following:
- intentionally causing physical pain, physical injury or illness;
- intentionally harming your physical condition;
- sexual assault;
- destruction of property belonging to you; and
- threatening to do any of the above acts.1
Note: Harassing or stalking behavior is also covered under a different type of restraining order called a harassment restraining order.
1 Wis. Stat. § 813.12(1)(am)
What types of domestic abuse restraining orders are there? How long do they last?
There are temporary and final domestic abuse restraining orders. A temporary order may be granted by a judge or court commissioner if s/he finds reasonable grounds to believe that the abuser committed or may commit domestic abuse against you.1 The temporary order lasts for 14 days or until the full court hearing and it can be extended once for 14 days if the respondent could not be served or if the parties consent.2
A final domestic abuse restraining order, also called an injunction, will last for up to four years. However, if you can prove there is a substantial risk that the respondent may commit any of these crimes against you: first-degree intentional homicide, second-degree intentional homicide, sexual assault or sexual assault of a child (sections (1) or (2)), it can last for up to 10 years.3
1 Wis. Stat. § 813.12(3)(a)(2)
2 Wis. Stat. § 813.12(3)(c)
3 Wis. Stat. § 813.12(4)(c)(1), (4)(d)
What protections can I get in a domestic abuse injunction?
A temporary restraining order may:
- order the abuser to stop committing acts of domestic abuse against you;
- order the abuser to stay away from your residence, or any other location you are temporarily occupying, or both. Note: If you and the abuser are unmarried and the abuser owns the home where you are both living (and you do not have any legal interest in that property), the judge may order the abuser to stay away from the property until you have a chance to move;
- order the abuser to avoid contacting you directly or through a third party, with the exception of the abuser’s attorney and any law enforcement officer;
- order the abuser not to remove, hide, damage, harm, mistreat, or dispose of, a household pet;
- order the abuser to allow you or your family member or household member acting on your behalf to retrieve (get) a household pet; and
- grant other relief that you request, if the judge finds the relief is necessary for your protection.1
A final domestic abuse injunction may:
- include all of the protections listed above; and
- order a wireless telephone provider to transfer the right to use your telephone number to you and transfer your account, including the responsibility to pay the bills, to you.2
If a judge grants you a final domestic abuse injunction, s/he must order the abuser to hand over any firearms in his/her possession to the authorities and forbid him/her from buying firearms unless the abuser is a peace officer and is required to possess a gun as a condition of his/her job.2
Note: For more information about federal and state gun laws and exceptions, see our WI State Gun Laws page and our Federal Gun Laws page.
Whether a judge or court commissioner orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.
1 Wis. Stat. § 813.12(3)(a), (3)(am)
2 Wis. Stat. § 813.12(4)(a), (4)(am), (4g), (4m)(a)(2), (4m)(ag)
In which county do I file the petition?
You can file a petition for a domestic abuse injunction in any of the following counties:
- where you live;
- where you are temporarily living;
- where the abuser (respondent) lives; or
- where an incident of abuse took place (where the “cause of action arose”).1
Note: There are certain situations in which you can file in any county within a 100-mile radius of the county seat of the county in which you live (or where you are temporarily living). This applies only if you (the petitioner) are any of the following:
- a victim advocate;
- an employee of the county court system;
- a legal professional practicing law;
- a current or former law enforcement officer;
- the spouse of a person listed above in numbers 1 - 4;
- a person who is/was in a dating relationship with or has a child in common with a person listed above in numbers 1 - 4;
- an immediate family member of a person listed above in numbers 1 - 4; or
- a household member of a person listed above in numbers 1 - 4.1
1 Wis. Stat. § 801.50(5r)