Restraining Orders

There are three common types of restraining orders and injunctions you can get when you or your child faces threats of violence or actual harm. These include domestic abuse restraining orders, harassment restraining orders and child abuse restraining orders.

At Nicholson, Gansner & Otis, S.C., in Madison, Wisconsin, our lawyers help clients bring and contest restraining orders. Call 608-620-0018 for a free 30 minute initial consultation. We offer evening and weekend appointments upon request.

Domestic Abuse Restraining Orders and Injunctions

Domestic abuse restraining orders and injunctions most commonly apply to the following people:

  • Those who are (or were) married
  • Those who have a child together
  • Those who are or were in a dating relationship
  • Those who are family members or live in the same household together

Domestic abuse restraining orders and injunctions are intended to protect such a person from "domestic abuse": the intentional infliction of physical pain, injury or illness, sexual assault, damage to property, or the threat to do any of those things.

The terms of a domestic abuse restraining order can include prohibitions on committing acts of domestic abuse against the person who sought the petition (referred to as the "petitioner"), on being at that person's residence or anywhere else that person may be temporarily, on contacting that person, and other restrictions. Violating those restrictions can result in criminal charges.

If you are or have been in an abusive relationship, a domestic violence restraining order and injunction can be a good idea and can help protect you. On the other hand, if a former spouse or significant other has accused you of acts of domestic abuse, you may need help trying to avoid having an injunction put in place against you.

Harassment Restraining Orders and Injunctions

Harassment restraining orders and injunctions can be brought by any person against any other individual. They are intended to protect a person from:

  • Physical contact
  • Child abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Stalking
  • The threat of any of those acts

They are also intended to protect a person from being subjected to what the law calls a "course of conduct" or repeated acts that cause a person to be harassed or intimidated and have no legitimate purpose.

Much like a domestic abuse restraining order or injunction, a harassment restraining order can prohibit the other person (referred to as the "respondent") from harassing the petitioner and from being at his or her residence or anywhere else he or she might be temporarily, in addition to other restrictions.

Child Abuse Restraining Orders and Injunctions

Child abuse restraining orders and injunctions are typically brought on behalf of children and are intended to protect children from being abused by another individual or from the threat of being abused. The procedures at a child abuse injunction hearing are slightly different than at other types of injunction hearings. In a child abuse restraining order hearing, the judge or court commissioner can do all of the following:

  • Appoint a guardian ad litem (basically an attorney whose job it is to represent the child's best interests)
  • Close the courtroom to anyone not directly involved in the case
  • Order that only the parties, their attorneys, the guardian ad litem and other court personnel have access to the record in the case

A child abuse restraining order and injunction can protect a child much like the restraining orders described above can protect adults: The respondent can be prohibited from being at the child's residence or anywhere the child is temporarily and from having any contact with the child.

Sometimes child custody or divorce actions can become contentious and ugly, and when they do, one parent can sometimes misguidedly make unfounded allegations against the other parent. If you have had a child abuse restraining order brought against you, protect yourself before the court puts an order in place against you for years.

Other Types of Restraining Orders

There are also restraining orders and injunctions designed to protect elderly adults or other at-risk adults from physical abuse, financial exploitation, harassment, stalking or the mistreatment of their animals. These are referred to as restraining orders and injunctions for individuals at risk.

Finally, if you have an order of protection from somewhere else, you are still protected. "Foreign protection orders" can still be enforced in Wisconsin.