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Our legal department examines the impact of the legal system and legal processes on domestic violence victims.  The Director of the Legal Department, the Immigration and Poverty Law Attorney and legal interns conduct research, produce materials, provide technical assistance and conduct trainings to assist advocates and legal professionals. The legal department produces a legal manual, written for Wisconsin domestic violence programs.

On an annual basis, members of the legal department provide trainings on restraining orders, family law, economic advocacy and immigration law to member programs.  In addition, statewide trainings are provided as requested or needed to members of the legal profession such as probation agents, judges, circuit court commissioners, attorneys, prosecutors, defense attorneys, clerks of court and victim/witness personnel.

Members of the legal department engage in systems advocacy on many topics, which vary from year-to-year.  However, issues pertaining to restraining orders are an ongoing part of systems advocacy.

We also manage a legal fund to provide financial support with legal fees for victims of domestic violence. These funds are available to domestic violence programs only, who can apply for a small amount of funds on behalf of a victim seeking legal representation. 

We engage in collaborative work with many outside agencies.  The legal department offers a law school externship program which allows law school and paralegal students to work here, providing assistance with research and the creation of materials for the Legal Manual.  There are no funds available for the services provided by students or attorney volunteers. 

Click to view all Legal Resources

Selected Resources

Overview of State and Federal Laws Impacting Victims of Domestic Violence
A. Restraining Orders in Wisconsin

This grid asks and answers questions about all four types of protection orders.

B. Process to Obtain a Restraining Order in Wisconsin
B1. Obtaining a Restraining Order in Wisconsin - Two Part Process
B2. Ten Points to Consider before Choosing to File a Restraining Order
H. Databases for Wisconsin Civil and Criminal Information
A. Overview of Wisconsin’s mandatory arrest law
Eligibility for Public Benefit Programs

An outline of available programs in Wisconsin and eligibility information.

Coalition Chronicles 33-2: Domestic Abuse & Prison

This issue of the Chronicles explores the complex connection between domestic abuse and prison. Inside you will find information about many facets of this connection: the experiences of abuse as risk factors for incarceration, collateral consequences of going to prison, a look at related problems such as drug abuse and mental illness, and more.  You will also find resources that can help survivors with the process of reentry, and you will read about some of the courageous women who have survived both abuse and prison to share their stories

NNEDV Safety Net’s Technology & Confidentiality Resources Toolkit

This unique and innovative micro website was developed by NNEDV’s Safety Net Team to assist domestic violence, dating abuse, sexual violence, and stalking non-profit victim service organizations and partnerships including victims service agencies with specific and useful resources on confidentiality and privacy.

Basic Information for Restraining Orders in Wisconsin E-Learning Modules

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin created 4 E-Learning Modules to provide basic information about Restraining Order in Wisconsin. They include videotaped presentations by Tess Meuer, End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin’s Director of Justice Systems, as well as vocabulary and quizzes to give a basic overview and useful resources for anyone who will be assisting victims to obtain restraining orders in Wisconsin.

To access the modules, CLICK HERE.  You will be directed to a short survey containing links to each module. Each one can be completed in 20-30 minutes.

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children - Dane County Needs Assessment
Military victims/survivors handbook

Wisconsin handbook to assist victims/survivors of domestic abuse connected to the military.Coming soon!

Wisconsin Human Trafficking Protocol and Resource Manual
Custody and Placement - Overview and Troubleshooting (6.9.14)

Morgan discusses some of the most commonly raised issues regarding custody and placement, including non-marital children, leaving with children and changing orders.

Click HERE to view and listen to the recorded webinar.

Other Acts Evidence: Recent Legislative Changes 2-18-2015 Recorded Webinar (approximately 60 minutes)

On February 18, 2015, End Abuse and the WI Coalition Against Sexual Assault  co-hosted this webinar by Assistant Attorneys General Audrey Skwierawski and Miriam Falk, discussing the anticipated impact of this important legislative change.

View and listen to the recorded webinar now. (You will be directed to respond to two questions and then go on to the recording.) Handouts can be downloaded below.

Description: In 2014 the WI legislature significantly expanded the ability of prosecutors to introduce evidence of prior acts by the defendant in domestic violence and sexual assault cases.  It is hoped that this new broader standard will help prosecutors provide juries with a more complete picture of the defendant’s history and behavior resulting in increased offender accountability.

The change requires that law enforcement officers take a complete history of the defendant’s prior actions and  that prosecutors be able to explain these behaviors using well established DV/SA dynamics.  It may also require increased expert testimony.  Victims may be asked to provide more information than they have in the past, both to law enforcement and to the jury.   The advocate will likely be called upon to explain to victims why this information is being collected and how it can be useful in holding offenders accountable.  Advocates who testify as expert witnesses may be called more frequently in order to explain the additional contextual information being presented at trial.

This webinar discussed the statutory change and provided illustrations of how the change may impact victims and advocates.  All advocates who discuss criminal proceedings with clients and those who may serve as expert witnesses will benefit from this recorded webinar.

Jurisdiction: Obtaining a Restraining Order When Abuse Crosses State Lines 6-19-2015

End Domestic Abuse WI's Tess Meuer, Director of Justice Systems and Tony Gibart, the Public Policy Director will discuss the three components which allow courts to have jurisdiction (authority) to hear a case: subject matter jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction and venue. In addition, they will discuss the recently passed WI 2015 Act 4 [now the law] which extends authority of WI courts to have personal jurisdiction in cases where abuse crosses state lines. Finally, they will give helpful examples of how new personal jurisdiction law (Act 4) applies in interstate abuse cases.

You can view 2015 Wisconsin Act 4 prior to the webinar HERE

To view and listen, CLICK HERE.  You will be directed to short survey and the link to the recorded webinar.    

The Status of Same-Sex Marriage in Wisconsin After Obergerfell v. Hodges (webinar recorded 7.15.2015)

This presentation by Attorney Chris Krimmer considered the current (as of July 15, 2015) status of same-sex marriage in Wisconsin including a discussion of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergerfell v. Hodges. The Obergerfell decision may be historically the most important civil rights case for gay men and lesbians. In this decision, the Supreme Court determined whether the fundamental right to marriage under the U.S. Constitution included the right of same-sex couples to marry.

The decision was pivotal for Wisconsin's federal case granting the right to marry to same-sex couples, or opening the door for the state's ban on same-sex marriage to be reinstated. In addition to a discussion of the right to marry, Attorney Krimmer addressed the unique aspects of divorce for gay and lesbian couples who married, and how to divide property and address custodial issues impacting children of a gay or lesbian couple who never married but ended their relationship. The webinar aslo discussed how lawyers apply a variety of family law statutes that reference gender such as "husband" and "wife" in the context of same-sex marriage such as the statutes involving step-parent adoptions and the marital presumption of children born during marriage.

Chris Krimmer is a family law attorney and partner at Balisle & Roberson, S.C., in Madison.

To view and listen, CLICK HERE. You will be directed to short survey and the link to the recorded webinar.

Restraining Orders for Youth & Teens: Child Abuse & Harassment TROs, Injunctions

These presentation slides, created by Director of Justice SystemsTess Meuer, focus on the two restraining orders available for minors (under the age of 18) in Wisconsin: Child Abuse Restraining Orders and Harassment Restraining Orders.  The slides were presented at the Wisconsin Serving Victims of Crime Conference in August 2015. UPDATED May 2016.

Legal Advocacy Updates - June 21, 2016

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin's Tess Meuer discusses recent legislative changes to restraining orders currently in effect or going into effect July 1, 2016. This webinar will discuss the following changes to restraining order law.

  •  Pet Legislation: prohibiting pet abuse and/or allowing retrieval of a pet
  •  Service Legislation: requiring the clerk to provide the sheriff with a copy of the Temporary Restraining Order and injunction for service
  • Cell Phone Legislation: that may enable some individuals to get out of a family plan contract and maintain their phone number
  • E-filing Rules: allowing counties to do e-filing of restraining orders.

To view and listen, CLICK HERE. You will be directed to a short survey and the link to the recorded webinar.