Domestic Abuse Injunctions: 7 Steps to Protecting Survivors and Their Pets
Many domestic abuse survivors do not know resources are available to protect their pets from their abusers. A domestic abuse injunction is one such resource.
Judges and circuit court commissioners can issue temporary domestic abuse injunctions and grant domestic abuse injunctions, preventing abusers from “removing, hiding, damaging, harming, or mistreating, or disposing of, a household pet.”1 To ensure that domestic abuse injunctions protect domestic abuse survivors and their pets, follow the steps below.
1) Determine Whether Client Qualifies for Domestic Abuse Injunction
Domestic abuse injunctions and harassment injunctions are often confused with one another. However, different statutes govern these injunctions. Wisconsin Statutes section 813.12 governs domestic abuse injunctions, while Wis. Stat. section 813.125 governs harassment injunctions. If an individual does not meet the requirements for a domestic abuse injunction, he or she might meet the requirements for a harassment injunction.2
To qualify for a domestic abuse injunction, the petitioner must demonstrate that he or she has experienced domestic violence in a specific type of relationship. A petitioner qualifies for a domestic abuse injunction when:
- The domestic abuse was committed by an adult family member or adult household member against another adult family member or adult household member;
- The domestic abuse was committed by an adult caregiver against an adult under the caregiver’s care;
- The domestic abuse was committed by an adult against his or her adult former spouse;
- The domestic abuse was committed by an adult against an adult with whom the individual has or had a dating relationship;3 or
- The domestic abuse was committed by an adult against an adult with whom the person has a child in common.4
Relationships that qualify for domestic abuse injunctions include, but are not limited to, sibling relationships, roommate relationships, marital relationships, and romantic relationships.
The petitioner must also demonstrate that the respondent engaged in one or more of the following behaviors, and that the respondent’s behavior was directed toward the petitioner:
- Intentional infliction of physical pain, physical injury, or illness;
- Intentional impairment of physical condition;
- Sexual assault;
- Damage to property; or
- A threat to engage in any of the foregoing behavior.5
If the foregoing conditions are met, the lawyer can proceed with the domestic abuse injunction process.
2) Ensure You Have All Necessary Forms
Several forms must be completed to file for a domestic abuse injunction; with the exception of the Civil Process Worksheet,6 all are on the Wisconsin Circuit Court website. Lawyers are generally required to use the circuit court forms for domestic abuse injunctions. They should not draft their own versions of the forms unless they have received permission from the clerk of circuit court to do so.
The first form is the Petition for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Petition and Motion for Injunction Hearing form (CV-402). This form requests the court to set a date for the injunction hearing and enter a temporary domestic abuse injunction to protect the petitioner until the injunction hearing. The Temporary Restraining Order Fact Sheet must accompany this form. The Temporary Restraining Order Fact Sheet is where the petitioner provides details about what the respondent did and when and where the behavior occurred.
The second form is the Temporary Restraining Order and Notice of Injunction Hearing form (CV-403). This form is the order the court enters setting a date for the injunction hearing and issuing a temporary domestic abuse injunction to protect the petitioner until the injunction hearing.
The third form is the Domestic Abuse Injunction form (CV-404). This form is the order the court enters issuing the domestic abuse injunction after the injunction hearing.
The fourth form is the Confidential Address Information form (CV-502). This form is for the court to use to contact the petitioner.
The fifth form is the Civil Process Worksheet. This form requests identifying information about the respondent. The clerk gives this document to the sheriff’s office to execute service on the respondent.
The final form, the Petitioner’s Statement of Respondent’s Possession of Firearms form (CV-801), is optional.
3) Determine Whether Client Has Pet That Satisfies Statutory Definition
Domestic abuse survivors may not know domestic abuse injunctions can protect their pets, so they may not think to ask about or mention their pets. It is important for lawyers to ask clients this question directly to ensure that the injunction provides as much protection as possible.
If the client has a pet, determine whether the pet meets the statutory definition of “household pet”: “a domestic animal that is not a farm animal, as defined in s. 951.01(3), that is kept, owned, or cared for by the petitioner or by a family member or a household member of the petitioner.”7 If the client’s pet falls within this definition, ask the client if he or she would like the domestic abuse injunction to protect the pet.
4) Complete All Necessary Forms
Taking out an injunction against an abuser is a difficult decision for a domestic abuse survivor to make. As such, it is important for the lawyer and the client to complete all the forms correctly to expedite the process and help avert additional trauma.
The entire Petition for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Petition and Motion for Injunction Hearing form (CV-402) must be filled in. If the petitioner has a pet for which he or she is seeking protection, check boxes 1(d) and 2(d), which appear on page two. If the respondent currently has the petitioner’s pet and the petitioner must get the pet from the respondent, check boxes 1(e) and 2(e), which appear on page two.
Next, complete the Temporary Restraining Order Fact Sheet. Note that it may be difficult for the domestic abuse survivor to provide these personal details, as doing so often requires reliving painful experiences. It is important to approach these questions with care and demonstrate empathy and support. Once both forms are complete, the petitioner must sign the Petition for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Petition and Motion for Injunction Hearing form before a notary. This can be done at the clerk of court’s office, just before filing the forms with the clerk.
The lawyer only needs to fill in the information that appears in the captions of the Temporary Restraining Order and Notice of Injunction Hearing form (CV-403) and the Domestic Abuse Injunction form (CV-404). The court will complete the remainder of these forms.
The lawyer must fill in the entire Confidential Address Information form (CV-502). Reassure the client that the information on this form is not shared with the respondent nor does it appear on CCAP; it is exclusively for the court’s use.
Filling in the Civil Process Worksheet with as much of the requested information as possible will make it easier for the sheriff to execute service on the respondent.
Finally, encourage the petitioner to use the Statement of Respondent’s Possession of Firearms form (CV-801) if the respondent has used or threatened to use firearms against the petitioner, or if the petitioner knows or believes that the respondent possesses firearms. This form should be filled in to the best of the petitioner’s knowledge.
5) File All Forms with Clerk of Circuit Court
The domestic abuse restraining order forms cannot be e-filed, so it is necessary to file them in person with the clerk of circuit court. This process can take up to an hour because the clerk must send the temporary restraining order forms to the duty judge for review and approval. The lawyer should make sure to allow enough time.
In some circumstances, the duty judge might deny the temporary restraining order. If the temporary restraining order is denied, there will still be an injunction hearing at which the petitioner can present his or her case.
6) Execute Service on Respondent
The sheriff’s office executes service on the respondent. The clerk may send the documents to the sheriff’s office for service, or the clerk may require the lawyer to drop off copies at the sheriff’s office for service. Ensure that the sheriff has filed an affidavit of service before the injunction hearing.
7) Attend Injunction Hearing
The injunction hearing can be a very emotional experience for domestic abuse survivors. The lawyer’s advocacy and support are vital at this stage. Each judge runs his or her courtroom differently. Some judges will expect the lawyer to present evidence and question the client. Other judges will question the client themselves. Some judges will allow lawyers to advocate without examining their clients. Before the injunction hearing, try to learn about the judge’s courtroom practices and prepare the client accordingly.
Domestic abuse injunctions are an invaluable tool to protect domestic abuse survivors and their pets. When assisting clients with this process, be sure to ask them if they have pets that they would like the injunction to protect. Finally, take all possible steps to help clients effectively navigate this difficult, emotional process. Your representation could be lifesaving.
This article originally appeared in Wisconsin Lawyer.
1 Wis. Stat. § 813.12(3)(a), (4)(a).
2 Harassment injunctions offer identical protections for household pets. However, the requirements and forms for harassment injunctions are different from the requirements and forms for domestic abuse injunctions. At the outset, it is important to determine which injunction is best suited to the client’s circumstances.
3 The term dating relationship is further defined as “a romantic or intimate social relationship between 2 adult individuals but ‘dating relationship’ does not include a casual relationship or an ordinary fraternization between 2 individuals in a business or social context. A court shall determine if a dating relationship existed by considering the length of the relationship, the type of the relationship, and the frequency of the interaction between the adult individuals involved in the relationship.” Wis. Stat. § 813.12(1)(ag).
4 Wis. Stat. § 813.12(1)(am).
5 Wis. Stat. § 813.12(1)(am)1.-6.
6 For injunctions filed in Dane County, this form is located on the Dane County Clerk of Court’s website, https://courts.countyofdane.com. For injunctions filed outside Dane County, please contact the clerk of courts and ask where this form can be located.
7 Wis. Stat. § 813.12(1)(ce).