What is a restraining order and how can it protect me?

What is a restraining order and how can it protect me?

A restraining order, often referred to as a protection order, prohibits contact between individuals when one person is believed to be at risk or harm from another.  This occurs most commonly in relationships where one person becomes fearful that the other may do them harm or do harm to someone they love.

Unfortunately, during difficult times such as divorce or a child custody case, precautions like this are sometimes necessary.  A restraining order is more than a piece of paper. It is a legal document that orders the other person not to hurt you or contact you, safeguards against future harassment, and keeps the person away from your home, workplace, or any location where you may be found.

When an individual is seeking protection due to a situation like those described above, they can turn to the Wisconsin Statutes.  Under these Statutes are four classifications of restraining orders, as follows:

  1. Domestic abuse restraining orders which can be found under Wisconsin Statute 813.12.
  2. Child abuse restraining orders which can be found under Wisconsin Statute 813.122.
  3. Restraining orders for individuals at risk, to be found under Wisconsin Statute 813.123.
  4. Harassment restraining orders which can be found under Wisconsin Statute 813.125.

Do I need a lawyer to file a restraining order?

The short answer is no. Any person can request a restraining order before a Judge. While there are different types of restraining orders, the process to obtain one is similar for each.  That process involves filling out legal paperwork, filing that paperwork with your local clerk of court, and, if your request for a restraining order is granted, having it personally served to the individual you seek protection from. 

While you may certainly complete this procedure on your own, having an attorney does have its benefits. A knowledgeable attorney understands the details one comes across in obtaining a protection order.  Legal representation to obtain protection may be particularly beneficial if children are involved, or if the other party has hired their own representation to either secure or fight your restraining order. 

So, while you don’t have to hire an attorney to file a restraining order, having one can certainly provide you with an advantage.

What happens if my restraining order is granted by a judge?

When you file your paperwork, you appear before a judge who determines whether or not your case initially warrants temporary protection.  If the judge accepts your plea for protection, the restraining order will be granted on a temporary basis, up to fourteen days. The return date becomes an injunction hearing. 

Prior to the injunction hearing, the protected party must see to it that the protection order is personally served to the other party.  This can be done through the Sheriff’s office or through a private process server. If such service is not obtained, you will have to request a continuation of the initial restraining order, which a judge may grant if you can show good cause why service could not be obtained.

When the temporary restraining period has lapsed, you must then return to the courthouse for your injunction hearing, which is a small trial.

What happens at an Injunction Hearing?

The injunction hearing is your opportunity to provide evidence through documentation and witness testimony that establishes why the previously-granted temporary restraining order should be converted into an injunction. If successful, you could obtain protection anywhere from two to ten years, depending on the type of restraining order you filed for and the severity and nature of the allegations. 

Your abuser will also have an opportunity at the injunction hearing to provide evidence as to why your allegations may be unfounded, which in turn could lead to a dismissal of your restraining order. 

In either situation, whether pursuing protection or seeking dismissal, hiring an attorney can be helpful. An attorney knows how to navigate the courtroom, understands how to use the rules of evidence during a hearing, and can assist you in putting forward your best possible case at the hearing.

Wisconsin Attorneys who can assist you through the restraining order/injunction process

Whether you are seeking a restraining order or need representation against the allegations of a restraining order, it is important to have competent and knowledgeable representation at your side. 

Here at J.G. Law we have a proven track record of putting our clients in the best possible situation to achieve their desired result.  Don’t leave this often-complicated process to chance. Gives us a call today. We can help.