Domestic Violence and Protection Orders

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If you are in danger, call 911, your local crisis hotline, the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: 1-307-755-5481 or the National Domestic Violence hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7223).

If you are in danger, please try to use a safer computer that someone abusive does not have direct or remote (hacking) access to.

For Information on computer and cell phone safety, see the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s (NNEDV) website.

Legal Disclaimer: The following is basic legal information, provided as a public service by Wyoming’s lawyers. The information provided is not a substitute for speaking to an attorneyOnly an attorney can give you legal advice regarding your specific situation. Click here for help finding a lawyer.

Order of Protection Frequently Asked Questions

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence can be defined broadly as a pattern of behaviors, including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks as well as financial control that adults and adolescents use against their intimate partners. Physical violence is only the most visible form of abuse. There is also a legal definition of “domestic abuse” in Wyoming that is used when a person is seeking a protection order. (See below)

What do I do if I am the victim of domestic violence?

If you are in immediate danger, go to a safe place and call 911. If you do not have a safe place to go, go to a shelter or to a public place. There is a domestic violence program in each county in Wyoming. You can find yours under “Crisis Intervention” in the Yellow Pages or contact the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Once you are safe, you can work with local legal offices for information about legal actions:

You can also visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Order of Protection: Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about orders of protection, including what they are and how to get one.

Authored By: Women’s Law Initiative

What is a domestic violence order of protection?

A domestic violence order of protection is a paper that is signed by a judge and tells your abuser to stop the abuse or face serious legal consequences. It offers legal protection from domestic violence to both women and men victims.

There are 2 types of orders of protection in Wyoming:

If a judge believes you are in immediate danger, s/he can issue an ex parte temporary order of protection. “Ex parte” means that the judge will make this decision based only on the information you provide and without any input from the abuser. This temporary order will last only until your full court hearing when the abuser has an opportunity to tell his side, usually within 72 hours.

A final domestic violence order of protection lasts up to 1 year and may be renewed. To get a final order, you will have a hearing in front of a judge. Both you and your abuser will have an opportunity to tell your sides of the story at this hearing.

W.S. 35-21-102 and W.S. 35-21-103

Authored By: Women’s Law Initiative

What is the legal definition of "domestic abuse" for a domestic violence order of protection?

Though the patterns of behavior and dynamics of domestic abuse are broad, for purposes of obtaining a civil domestic violence protection order in Wyoming, domestic abuse means the occurrence of one (1) or more of the following acts by a household member but does not include acts of self defense:

  • Physically abuses you;
  • Threatens to physically abuse you;
  • Physically hurts you;
  • Tries to physically hurt you;
  • Does things that unreasonably restrain your personal liberty (like locking you in a closet or forcibly holding you down);
  • Makes you reasonably afraid that s/he is going to physically hurt you in the near future; or
  • Makes you have sex or engage in sexual activity by forcing you or threatening you into it

If you are being stalked, you may qualify for an order of protection against stalking.

W.S. 35-21-102(a)(iii)

Who can file for a protection order?

Eligible petitioners: A victim of domestic abuse may petition the court under Wyoming’s Domestic Violence Protection Act by filing a petition with the circuit court for an order of protection. The victim is then known as the “Petitioner.”

W.S. 35-21-103(a)

Who can a protection order be filed against?

Potential respondents (person against whom a protection order is sought): A petition may be filed against any of the following categories of persons, defined as "household members":

  • Persons married to each other;
  • Persons living with each other as if married;
  • Persons formerly married to each other;
  • Persons formerly living with each other as if married;
  • Parents and their adult children;
  • Other adults sharing common living quarters;
  • Persons who are the parents of a child but who are not living with each other; and
  • Persons who are in, or have been in, a dating relationship.

W.S. 35-21-102(a)(iv)

Definition of Adult- Under Wyoming’s Domestic Violence Protection Act an "adult" means a person who is sixteen (16) years of age or older, or legally married. This definition of adult applies where adult is referred to in the “household member” definition above.

W.S. 35-21-102(a)(i)

Can I keep my address confidential?

If the petitioner requests, the court shall order the address of the petitioner and any children of the petitioner and respondent be kept confidential.

W.S. 35-21-105(e)

Do I need a lawyer to get an order of protection?

No. However, even with a simplified petitioning procedure and energetic assistance from advocates to victims, those victims who are not represented by a lawyer are less likely to get orders that contain all appropriate provisions regarding exclusion from the residence, temporary custody of children, child support, and protective limitations on visitation rights. A lawyer for the petitioner is especially important if the respondent appears with a lawyer. There is no right to a court-appointed attorney for respondents, as domestic violence orders of protection are civil in nature, not criminal. There are legal services that provide assistance to qualifying petitioners (persons seeking the protection) in protection order hearings. While Wyoming law allows the court to appoint an attorney to assist and advise the petitioner, most courts do not have procedures or resources in place to do so.

W.S. 35-21-103(e)

If you need a lawyer or if the other side has a lawyer, you may qualify for free or reduced fee, legal services. The following organizations may be able to help you or refer you to someone who can help:

How much does it cost to get an order of protection?

There is no cost to either file or have the paperwork served on the other party.

What happens once the protection order is filed with the Circuit Court?

The order for protection must be filed with the Clerk of Circuit Court’s office (forms are available at the courthouse), and is then forwarded to the sheriff for service and entry in a statewide database. The order is then on file and available to law enforcement should any violations occur. The person filing will also be given a copy of the order for protection and should have it on hand at all times.

How can a domestic violence order of protection help me?

While an order of protection can’t guarantee your safety it can help make you safer by:

  • Ordering the abuser not to abuse you;
  • Ordering the abuser to move out, if you live together;
  • Ordering the abuser not to contact you;
  • Ordering the abuser to stay away from where you live, work, and got to school;
  • Making decisions about temporary custody of or visitation with your minor child or children;
  • Ordering the abuser to pay child support and temporary support for you
  • Ordering the abuser not to abduct, remove or conceal any child in your custody;
  • Granting you temporary possession of your shared residence;
  • Ordering the abuser to provide you with temporary suitable alternative housing, if you don’t have use of the house;
  • Ordering the abuser not to sell your possessions or any shared possessions;
  • Requiring the abuser to attend counseling for the term of the order of protection and any extension the judge decides necessary (up to 1 year);
  • Ordering the abuser to pay for any medical costs due to the abuse (you also have the right to sue for other losses suffered as a result of the abuse, including moving expenses or loss of earnings that can be done without an attorney in small claims court);
  • Ordering any other relief that you need to stay safe from the abuser.

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

W.S. 35-21-105

Authored By: Women’s Law Initiative

What happens with the abuser’s gun rights if there is an order of protection?

Protection Orders and Federal Firearm Regulations: Under 18 USC § 922(g)(8), persons who are subject to orders restraining them from abusing an “intimate partner” may not purchase or possess firearms or ammunition. The court may order the surrender of the perpetrator’s firearms and other weapons, order weapons removed and prohibit weapons possession by the respondent.

Official use exemption for protection orders: A limited exception to sections 922(g)(8) and 922(d)(8) exists for law enforcement officers, armed forces personnel, and other local, state, and federal employees who are required to use weapons as part of their official duties. Under 18 USC § 925(a)(1), sometimes referred to as the “official-use exemption,” the prohibitions in sections 922(g)(8) and 922(d)(8) do not apply to firearms that are received or possessed by such individuals for use in performing official duties on behalf of a federal, state, or local agency. Personal weapons, however, are not covered by the exemption.

Firearm provisions are non-discretionary. It is not an option that the victim may request. The federal prohibitions are absolute.

Firearms used for hunting are included within the federal prohibitions. A defendant may not seek temporary access of hunting rifles, for example, during hunting season, whether it is for food or sport.

What if I have children with my abuser? What happens to them if I file for a protection order?

If you are the one petitioning for a protection order and the court finds it in the child(ren)’s best interest to stay with you, then the court will grant you temporary custody.

How is child visitation decided in an order of protection?

You may be at risk of potential violence during visitation. In the terms of your protection order, you should consider asking for the following:

  • An order that eliminates the need for any contact between you and your abuser.
  • An order that the visitation be supervised.
  • An order that communication regarding the child(ren) and/or exchange for visitation be conducted through a third party.
  • An order which is specific and detailed regarding visitation. Vague orders which simply order “reasonable rights of visitation” or states that “visitation will be ordered later,” put you at a greater risk of harassment and control from your abuser.
  • An order that the abuser attend and complete to the court’s satisfaction a program of intervention or other designated counseling as a condition of visitation.
  • An order that the abuser not consumer alcohol or drugs during the visit.
  • Require the abuser to post a bond to secure the return and safety of any children.

I have no money to support myself or my children, how will I support myself if I leave my abuser?

In the protection order hearing, a court may order your abuser to provide child support and spousal support. You may also receive help from a local domestic violence organization who may be able to provide job and housing resources. For more information, see the list of organizations below.

Do I need to have a copy of the order of protection?

Yes. Victims should always obtain a certified copy of the protection order and keep a copy in her/his possession at all times. Identifying information, including the court’s name, address and phone should be on the order in case someone has questions and needs to contact the court. This information is very useful for law enforcement when attempting to enforce the order.

W.S. 35-21-109

What is a victim advocate?

The role of a victim advocate is not to give legal advice or representation, but to provide support and assistance to victims of domestic violence, including alternatives to seeking protection orders when appropriate. It is common for trained victim advocates to accompany victims to court in order to provide support, though it is not a requirement. There is a domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy agency in every county in Wyoming and on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

The domestic violence occurred in my home and I want to move away, how do I get out of my lease?

In Wyoming, there is a law called the Wyoming Safe Homes Act, W.S. 1-21-1303, which allows victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to terminate their home or apartment leases before their contracted end date. The lease will be terminated if:

  • You or a member of your household were the victim of domestic abuse or sexual assault on the premises owned or controlled by the landlord;
  • You give seven (7) days written notice to the landlord before vacating the property and the notice states that the reason for vacating is because of domestic violence or sexual abuse and the date of the violence, and you provide documentation of the violence from medical personnel, police, or from the court; and
  • The written notice is provided within 60 days of the date when the violence occurred.