The COVID-19 pandemic is a unique challenge facing many families. One disturbing trend that is arising is the increase in Domestic Violence complaints. With Wisconsin starting a Safer at Home policy many municipalities have started to see an uptick in domestic violence complaints during Covid-19 crises. Self-Isolation policies recommended to halt the viral outbreak has increased the frequency and reports of violence in the home.
In Wisconsin, Domestic Violence is a broad chapter of the criminal code and, depending on the conduct alleged, could range from misdemeanor charges all the way up to felony charges. Domestic Violence is serious and any conduct whether between family members, partners or between parents and children should never be tolerated. First and foremost, if you are in a dangerous domestic situation contact police or local law enforcement right away.
As you know, this is a very challenging time for all and also for our court system. For individuals seeking injunctions and restraining orders there is information which can assist you if you face a choice of seeking out an injunction during these times.
1. Contact your county court to determine if In Person appearances are required.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid situation and counties around Wisconsin are taking unique solutions to solve court appearances. Many courts are adopting technological approaches like using teleconference software (Zoom and Skype) to facilitate hearings. Depending on which county you reside in, it would be best to contact the court to determine what steps maybe necessary to file a restraining order.
2. Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) are still being issued.
According to releases by the Wisconsin State Bar Association, Family Division, the issuance of Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) is considered an essential court activity. Contact your local court to determine the location and steps needed to facilitate filing for a Temporary Restraining Order. Once a TRO is in effect it will act as a barrier to stop contact, and violation of a TRO could lead to misdemeanor charges should a party knowingly violate it.
3. There are shelters still open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A victim of domestic may seek temporary housing in shelters designed for abuse victims and their children. Many shelters are still operating even in this current pandemic. A good list for shelters in the southeastern Wisconsin can be found at https://www.domesticshelters.org/ .
4. Seek out legal representation if faced with questions about Domestic Violence situations.
No one should be forced to remain in an abusive environment. Seek out trained legal advice to determine the next possible steps in your situation.
Again, no one should be forced to live in an abusive situation. COVID-19 may make life more difficult but there are steps and help available to all who find themselves facing the very difficult situation of Domestic Violence.