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Know the Laws: Wisconsin

UPDATED June 22, 2017

Child Abuse Restraining Order

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If a minor child has been the victim of abuse, s/he may be eligible to file for a child abuse restraining order.

Basic information

back to topWhat is a child abuse restraining order?

If a minor child has been the victim of abuse, s/he may be eligible to file for a child abuse restraining order. This restraining order is a paper which is signed by a judge and tells the abuser to stay away from the child or face serious legal consequences.

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back to topWhat is the legal definition of child abuse in Wisconsin?

To get a child abuse restraining order, a minor child (under the age of 18) must be the victim of child abuse, which is defined in Wisconsin as:

  • Intentional physical injury inflicted on a child (injuring a child on purpose)
  • Sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a child
  • Sexual exploitation of a child
  • Intentionally causing a child to listen to or view sexual activity
  • Exposing one’s genitals or pubic area to a child
  • Permitting, allowing, or encouraging a child into prostitution (as defined by law)
  • Emotional damage for which parents or guardians neglected or refused to get treatment
  • Manufacturing (making) methamphetamine:
    • In the physical presence of a child, or
    • In a child's home, or
    • Under any other circumstances where the child may see, smell or hear the drug being made
  • If a pregnant woman regularly uses alcohol or drugs and causes either serious physical harm to the unborn child or causes the risk of serious physical harm to the child when born.*

* Wis. Stat. § 48.02(1)(a)-(gm)

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back to topWhat types of child abuse restraining orders are there? How long do they last?

There are temporary and final child abuse restraining orders (also called injunctions).  A temporary order may be granted by a judge or court commissioner if s/he finds reasonable grounds to believe that the abuser has abused the child victim or may abuse the child victim.* 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).**

A final child abuse restraining order, or injunction, can be granted only after a full court hearing where the victim and abuser both get a chance to tell their sides of the story.  If granted, a final child abuse injunction may last for up to 2 years or until the child victim turns 18, whichever happens first.  However, there is a possibility that the injunction can last for up to 5 years if you can prove there is a substantial risk that the respondent may commit any of these crimes against the child: first-degree intentional homicidesecond-degree intentional homicidesexual assault or sexual assault of a child (sections (1) or (2)).***  A child abuse restraining order may also order the payment of child support.****

* Wis. Stat. § 813.122(4)(a)(2)
** Wis. Stat. § 813.122(4)(c)
*** Wis. Stat. § 813.122(5)(d),(dm)
**** Wis. Stat. § 813.122(5)(e)

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back to topHow can a child abuse restraining order help me?

A temporary or final child abuse restraining order or injunction can order the abuser to:

  • avoid the child victim's residence or any place temporarily occupied by the child victim or both;
  • avoid contacting or causing any person other than a party's attorney to contact the child victim (unless you, the petitioner, consents to that contact in writing and the judge agrees that the contact is in the best interests of the child victim); and
  • not remove, hide, damage, harm, or mistreat, or dispose of, a household pet (and the judge can allow the petitioner or his/her family/household member to get the pet).*
  • Note: If you request it, as part of a final injunction, the judge can order a wireless telephone provider to transfer to you the right to use (and responsibility to pay for) any telephone number that you use or that a minor child in your care uses.**

In a final child abuse injunction, the abuser will be required to surrender any firearms that s/he owns.*** However, if the abuser is a police officer, or has to use a firearm as part of his/her work, the court may not require him/her to surrender the firearms.****  For more information on gun laws in Wisconsin, see our WI State Gun Laws page.

* Wis. Stat. § 813.122(4)(a),(5)(a)
** Wis. Stat. § 813.122(5c)
*** Wis. Stat. § 813.122(5m)(a)(2)
**** Wis. Stat. § 813.122(5m)(ag)

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