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Restraining orders: where family law and criminal law intersect

Seeking a restraining order or protection order in Wisconsin can be a matter of criminal law, as the order protects you from criminal behavior such as battery, sexual assault, harassment or stalking. However, a restraining order can also be a matter of family law, as the person threatening you or your children may be a current or former spouse or significant other. At the Mayer Law Office, we recognize the unique legal position that restraining orders can occupy in family law cases. 

There is a two-part process for obtaining a restraining order in the case of unwanted physical contact or other threatening behavior. First, you obtain a temporary protection order from the court. The temporary protection order will prevent the other person from coming within 500 feet of your workplace or home, contacting you in any way, or engaging in any other threatening or harassing behavior towards you. 

However, the other person will have a chance to present a defense in court, as within two weeks of the temporary protection order going into effect, a judge will schedule a hearing to decide whether the order should remain in effect or the court should lift it. Even if the court decides to continue the order, it will not be permanent. Protection orders in Wisconsin can last up to four years in the case of harassment or domestic violence, while in the case of child abuse the order can last up to two years. 

The lines between family law and criminal law may blur in cases that involve domestic violence, abuse or harassment. More information about restraining orders is available on our website.


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