Am I eligible to file for a domestic abuse injunction?
If you are an adult, you may be able to file against any of the following people who have committed domestic abuse against you (the abuser must also be an adult):
- a current or former spouse;
- a parent;
- an adult child;
- a person related to you by blood or adoption;
- a person with whom you currently live or formerly lived;
- anyone with whom you have had a child, even if you were never married to him/her;
- someone you are dating or have dated; or
- a caregiver.1
You can also file for a domestic abuse injunction on behalf of a incapacitated adult who is the victim of domestic abuse if you are that adult’s legal guardian.2
If you are being abused or harassed by someone who does not fit into one of the above-listed relationships, there are other types of orders that you may be eligible for. You can find more information on our child abuse restraining orders page, our harassment restraining orders page, and our individual at risk restraining orders page.
Note: Domestic abuse injunctions do not offer protection from step-parents, step-siblings or step-children unless you live with them or used to live with them.
1 Wis. Stat. § 813.12(1)(am), (1)(b), (1)(c)
2 Wis. Stat. § 813.12(5)(d)
Can I get an injunction against a same-sex partner?
In Wisconsin, you may apply for an injunction against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Am I eligible to file for a domestic abuse injunction? 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 Wisconsin?
You can find information about LGBTQIA victims of abuse and what types of barriers they may face on our LGBTQIA Victims page.
What types of domestic abuse orders are there? How long do they last?
In Wisconsin, there is a two-step process to get a domestic abuse injunction. The process starts by requesting a temporary domestic abuse restraining order.
Temporary domestic abuse restraining order
A temporary restraining order is a court order designed to protect you and your family from immediate danger. It can be granted without the abuser being in court and without his/her knowledge. The temporary restraining order cannot be enforced until the abuser has been served with the order. In general, a temporary order will last until the court hearing for a final order, which will usually be within 14 days.1 Temporary restraining orders may be extended for two weeks if the abuser cannot be located before your first temporary order expires.2 After the judge has given you a temporary restraining order, a court date will be set for the final injunction hearing. If you did not receive a temporary restraining order, a hearing for a final injunction can be scheduled if you request a court date.3
Final domestic abuse injunctions
An injunction is a court order designed to protect you and your family from domestic abuse in a more permanent way than a temporary restraining order. An injunction can be issued only after the abuser has received notice and has an opportunity to attend a court hearing in front of a judge or court commissioner. At the hearing, you and the abuser will both have a chance to present evidence, testimony, witnesses, etc. The final injunction can last for the amount of time that you request, up to 4 years.4 However, there is a possibility that the injunction can last for up to 10 years 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)).5
1 Wis. Stat. § 813.12(2)(c)
2 Wis. Stat. § 813.12(3)(c)
3 Wis. Stat. § 813.12(2m)
4 Wis. Stat. § 813.12(4)(c)(1)
5 Wis. Stat. § 813.12(4)(d)(1)
How much does it cost? Do I need a lawyer?
There are no fees for filing for a domestic abuse injunction.1
You do not need a lawyer to file for a domestic abuse injunction. However, you may wish to have a lawyer, especially if the abuser has a lawyer. Even if you can’t get a lawyer to represent you, you might want to get advice from a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.
If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance on our WI Finding a Lawyer page. Domestic violence organizations in your area also should be able to help you through the legal process and may have lawyer referrals. Please see our WI State and Local Resources page for organizations in your area.
If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.
1 Wis. Stat. § 814.61(1)(d)