Temporary Restraining Order/Injunction Information
The information contained on this web page is provided as a courtesy to members of the public and shall not be construed as legal advice. If you have questions, contact the Wisconsin Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service 800-362-9082 for additional assistance.
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) - a term used in Wisconsin law to refer to a restraining order that only lasts for a short period of time, generally less than two weeks. A temporary restraining order is a temporary civil court order that orders one person to avoid having contact or certain kinds of contact with another person. Temporary restraining orders are different from bail or bond conditions, probation rules, or a 72-hour no contact as condition of arrest order. You do NOT need an attorney-Wisconsin law allows you to seek a restraining order without a lawyer's help. Many people feel more comfortable hiring an attorney, especially if there are concurrent criminal or family law cases that stem from the abuse.
Injunction - a term used in Wisconsin law to refer to a restraining order that lasts for a longer period of time, as compared to the temporary restraining order. An injunction is a final civil court order of protection that can be granted up to four years, but can last up to 10 years.
Petitioner - the person seeking protection against harm. The Petitioner is one party in the restraining order case. This person files a petition with the court, which is a document asking the court to issue a restraining order.
Respondent - the person against whom protection is being sought and may be ordered not to contact the Petitioner.
Petition - a written statement of facts by the Petitioner asking the court to issue a restraining order.
Service of Process - a legal term used to describe the act of giving notice of a lawsuit or court hearing to another person.
Proof of Service - a document filed with the court as evidence to show the legal documents have been successfully delivered on the opposing party or a witness in a lawsuit. This is also termed as return of service or return of process.
Guardian ad Litem - an attorney appointed by the court to represent the interests of minor children, the unborn, or incompetent persons in legal actions.
See Restraining Order Glossary of Terms (PDF) for more information.
Facts About Temporary Restraining Orders and Injunctions
- The restraining order procedure in Wisconsin is a two step process:
- Complete Petition for Temporary Restraining Order
- Temporary restraining orders only last for a short period of time, generally less than two weeks.
- Request Injunction Hearing
- The person requesting a long-term restraining order will need to come back and may have to testify in a hearing that is open to the public.
- Complete Petition for Temporary Restraining Order
- The Petitioner may file for a temporary restraining order/injunction in the county where the Petitioner resides; or where the Respondent resides; or where the incident occurred.
- There are five different types of restraining orders and a Petitioner may qualify for more than one kind.
- The Petitioner must decide which restraining order is best. Court staff cannot provide legal advice.
- Attaching a detailed statement (PDF) to the petition about what happened, how the Petitioner felt, and when incidents occurred can be helpful to a court official reviewing a petition to fully understand why a temporary restraining order is needed.
- A Petitioner can include abusive or harassing incidents that happened in the past. The law does not require Petitioner to write only about recent incidents.
- Petitioner should try to focus on incidents that fit the definition of the type of restraining order requested.
- Supporting documentation (i.e. photographs, police reports, etc.) can be attached.
- The Court does not have access to police reports or criminal case files.
- The Respondent will see a copy of the Petitioner's petition and any supporting documents filed with the court. Most of the documents are public record.
- Restraining orders are between two people only. There is one Petitioner and one Respondent per case. If there is one Petitioner but two Respondents, two separate petitions must be filed by the Petitioner.
- Children are not protected by an adult's temporary restraining order or injunction.
- A temporary restraining order/injunction does not require the police check either on the Petitioner or Respondent to make sure the order is being followed.
- Having a temporary restraining order/injunction against a Respondent does not prevent a Petitioner from being arrested for committing other types of crimes against the Respondent.
- If a Respondent violates a temporary restraining order/injunction, he or she may be arrested and charged with a crime, if police are contacted about the violation.
- If a Petitioner violates an Injunction, the Respondent may request a hearing to have the injunction dismissed.
Types of Restraining Orders
There are five different types of restraining orders and a Petitioner may qualify for more than one kind. Each of the five restraining orders offer different types of protection to the Petitioner. Additionally, each of them have different rules regarding who can file a petition, how long the order is in effect, filing fees, firearms requirements, and confidentiality, among other considerations. A Petitioner must decide which type of restraining order is best. Restraining Order Comparison Chart (PDF).
Domestic Abuse (both parties must be over 18 years of age) - is defined in Wis. Stat. §813.12 as intentional infliction of physical pain, physical injury or illness, intentional impairment of physical condition; or sexual contact or sexual intercourse without consent, criminal damage to the victim's property, or a threat to engage is such conduct.
Harassment (Adult Respondent) - is defined in Wis. Stat. §813.125 as striking, shoving, kicking or otherwise subjecting another person to physical contact, engaging in an act that would constitute child abuse under s. 48.02(1), sexual intercourse or sexual contact under s.940.225 or stalking under s.940.32; or attempts or threatens to do the same. Also, engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which harass or intimidate the person and serve no legitimate purpose.
Individual at Risk (Vulnerable Adult) - is requested generally on behalf of "individuals at risk", which includes any adult who has a physical or mental condition that substantially impairs his or her ability to care of his or her needs and who has experienced, is currently experiencing, or is at risk of experiencing abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or financial exploitation.
Child Abuse (Adult Respondent) - is defined as any of the following physical injury inflicted on a child by other than accidental means; sexual intercourse or sexual contact; sexual exploitation of the child; permitting, allowing or encouraging the child to violate the prostitution laws; forcing the child to view sexual activity; exposing genitals or pubic area to the child; causing the child to expose genitals or pubic area; manufacturing methamphetamine with a child physically present or in a child's home or in a motor vehicle on the premises of a child's home or under any other circumstances that the manufacture would be seen, smelled or be heard by child; or emotional damage to the child.
Juvenile (Minor Respondent) - A restraining order referred to a juvenile (petition in juvenile court) means a Respondent under 18 years of age. The age of the Petitioner does not dictate whether or not the restraining order will be a juvenile action, rather it is the age of the Respondent.
The Petitioner may file for a temporary restraining order/injunction in the county where the Petitioner resides; or where the respondent resides; or where the incident occurred.
Two-Step Restraining Order Process
Wisconsin's restraining order process is often referred to as "a two step process".
Step 1 - Complete Petition for Temporary Restraining Order and File
Petitioner files a petition for a temporary restraining order, asking the court to prohibit the Respondent from having contact. Temporary restraining orders can be issued ex parte, meaning that the Respondent was not notified that the petition was filed and is not present at court. If the Court grants the petition, a temporary restraining order takes effect immediately. The Court will schedule an injunction hearing for the Petitioner to come back to court within fourteen (14) days. The temporary restraining order only remains in effect until the time of an injunction hearing.
Step 2 - Attend Injunction Hearing
To request a restraining order for a longer period of time, the Petitioner is required to come back to court for an injunction hearing. This hearing is open to the public and may be heard by either a court commissioner or circuit court judge, depending on the type of restraining order being requested. The injunction hearing will not be held unless the Respondent was served with notice of the hearing. The Respondent may appear at the injunction hearing and contest (not agree with) the restraining order requested by the Petitioner. If this happens, the Petitioner and Respondent will need to testify. After testimony is given by each party, the court will decide whether to grant or deny the injunction. If the Petitioner fails to appear at the injunction hearing, the case will be dismissed.
There are two key distinctions between a temporary restraining order and injunction.
- The injunction can only be issued if the Respondent was notified that a petition was filed. The Respondent has the opportunity to appear at the court hearing and state his/her position.
- An injunction can be issued for a much longer period of time depending on the type of case and the circumstances surrounding the injunction.
Additional Information Regarding Two Step Restraining Order Process (PDF).
Forms and Instructions
Forms to commence a court action are available at the Oconto County Clerk of Courts, Oconto County Courthouse, 301 Washington Street, Building C, Oconto, WI 54153. The State of Wisconsin has forms and instructions for temporary restraining orders/injunctions available online.
- Scroll to the bottom of the page, click on "Court forms for restraining orders". Forms are available in PDF or Word format.
- "Forms Assistant" assists the Petitioner in filling out a petition for restraining order/injunction for domestic abuse or harassment. The Petitioner is asked a series of questions in an interview, and his/her answers will automatically be entered on the petition for injunction/temporary restraining order. A confidential address information sheet is also generated.
- Forms Assistant does not generate all documents required to commence an action. Refer to the link associated with the specific type of restraining order for all documents required to commence an action.
- The Petitioner must print the documents generated by Forms Assistant. Forms Assistant does not automatically submit the documents to the Clerk of Courts for electronic filing.
It is free to file a petition for a domestic abuse, child abuse, or individual at risk with the Clerk of Courts. It is free to file a petition for a juvenile restraining order with the Circuit Court Office.
There may be a filing fee of $164.50 to file a petition for a harassment restraining order. If the judge or court commissioner finds that the petitioner alleges domestic abuse or stalking behavior in the petition, then no fee will be collected by Clerk of Courts. If the petition does not allege these behaviors, then the Petitioner is required to pay the filing fee.
Some law enforcement agencies may require the Petitioner to pay service of process fees. The service of process fee amount is determined by each law enforcement agency and pre-payment may be required.
Domestic abuse and Harassment cases could have publication costs if service cannot be obtained on the Respondent.
Cases involving juveniles may be assessed Guardian ad Litem fees to be paid by parents/guardians of the juvenile at a rate of $125 per hour unless otherwise determined by the Court or amended by local rule or state statute.
An individual can petition the court to waive court fees and costs. Click here for information regarding petitioning the court for waiving fees.
- Completed filing documents for all types of restraining orders except juvenile restraining orders, are to be returned to the
Oconto County Clerk of Courts
301 Washington Street
Building C, Oconto, WI 54153
A court clerk will forward the documents to a court official for review.
- Petitions regarding juvenile restraining orders are returned to the Oconto County Circuit Court Office, 301 Washington Street, Building C, Oconto, WI 54153. Juvenile Restraining Orders are processed by the Circuit Court Office.
- If the Petition for Temporary Restraining Order is granted, or if denied, but Petitioner is requesting an Injunction Hearing, a court hearing may be scheduled.
- After being reviewed by a court office, the completed filing documents are returned to the Oconto County Clerk of Courts to create a court case and collect a filing fee from the Petitioner, if required.
- The original filing documents are kept by the Oconto County Clerk of Court.
- One authenticated copy of the filing documents is provided to the Petitioner, which is to be kept with the Petitioner at all times.
- The Oconto County Clerk of Courts will forward authenticated copies of the filing documents to law enforcement for service on the Respondent.
Service of Process
- The Respondent is to be personally served with an authenticated copy of the filing documents. The Oconto County Clerk of Courts Office will forward the documents to the appropriate law enforcement agency in the county the Respondent resides to attempt service.
- The Oconto County Sheriff's Department does not charge service of process fees for Temporary Restraining Order/Injunction actions.
- Other law enforcements agencies may charge service of process fees.
- It is the Petitioner's responsibility to pay any service of process fees, unless a waiver of fees is approved by the court.
- Petitioner is to make payment arrangements with the appropriate law enforcement agency.
- Prepayment may be required before any service attempts are made.
- Other law enforcements agencies may charge service of process fees.
- Petitioner is responsible to file proof of service with the Oconto County Clerk of Courts prior to the injunction hearing. The law enforcement agency should send proof of service directly to the Petitioner. Contact the law enforcement agency if proof of service is not received.
- There is no injunction hearing unless the Respondent is served with notice of the hearing and the Court is provided proof of service before the scheduled injunction hearing.
- If personal service is not obtained, the Petitioner must still appear at the court hearing. The court may extend the time for hearing up to fourteen (14) days, for service to be accomplished.
At the temporary order restraining order phase (Step 1) of the case, there is no effect on firearms, even if the Respondent possesses firearms and a temporary restraining order is granted.
If the court grants a domestic abuse or child abuse injunction, the respondent is automatically prohibited from possessing firearms under Wisconsin law (Wis. Stat. § 813.12(4m)(a)). If the respondent owns or possesses any firearms, he or she will be required to surrender the firearms to the sheriff or to another person approved by the court.
If the court grants a harassment or individual at risk injunction, the respondent is not automatically prohibited from possessing firearms under Wisconsin law. A court may prohibit the respondent from possessing firearms if the judge or court commissioner determines the respondent may use a firearm to cause physical harm to another or to endanger public safety (Wis. Stat. § 813.12(4m)(a)). If the court prohibits the respondent from possessing firearms, the respondent will be required to surrender any firearms he or she owns or possesses to the sheriff or to another person approved by the court.
Additional information regarding Firearms Surrender (PDF).
De Novo Review
If the Petitioner or Respondent is not satisfied with a decision made by the Court Commissioner they may petition the court for a de novo review.
VPO- Vine Protective Order
If a non-confidential Temporary Restraining Order is obtained, you can register to be notified when the Temporary Restraining Order has been served by law enforcement. 1. If you want to be notified you MUST register by calling 855-948-7648 or visiting their website.
- On the website, click Wisconsin on the drop-down menu, then Find a Protective Order to search for the protective order. You will need the following:
- 12 digit CCAP case number (Example: 2019CV000019)
- County that issued the Temporary Restraining Order (Oconto)
- Respondent's First and Last name
You can receive notification via phone and / or email.