CHAPTER 21 - DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROTECTION

 

35-21-101. Short title.

 

This act may be cited as the "Domestic Violence Protection Act".

 

35-21-102. Definitions.

 

(a) As used in this act:

 

(i) "Adult" means a person who is sixteen (16) years of age or older, or legally married;

 

(ii) "Court" means the circuit court or, if the county does not have a circuit court, the district court in the county where an alleged victim of domestic abuse resides or is found;

 

(iii) "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:

 

(A) Physically abusing, threatening to physically abuse, attempting to cause or causing physical harm or acts which unreasonably restrain the personal liberty of any household member;

 

(B) Placing a household member in reasonable fear of imminent physical harm; or

 

(C) Causing a household member to engage involuntarily in sexual activity by force, threat of force or duress.

 

(iv) "Household member" includes:

 

(A) Persons married to each other;

 

(B) Persons living with each other as if married;

 

(C) Persons formerly married to each other;

 

(D) Persons formerly living with each other as if married;

 

(E) Parents and their adult children;

 

(F) Other adults sharing common living quarters;

 

(G) Persons who are the parents of a child but who are not living with each other; and

 

(H) Persons who are in, or have been in, a dating relationship.

 

(v) "Order of protection" means a court order granted for the protection of victims of domestic abuse;

 

(vi) "This act" means W.S. 35-21-101 through 35-21-111.

 

35-21-103. Petition for order of protection; contents; prerequisites; counsel to be provided petitioners; award of costs and fees.

 

(a) A victim of domestic abuse may petition the court under this act by filing a petition with the circuit court clerk or the district court clerk if the county does not have a circuit court for an order of protection.

 

(b) The petition shall be made under oath or be accompanied by a sworn affidavit setting out specific facts showing the alleged domestic abuse.

 

(c) No petitioner is required to file for annulment, separation or divorce as a prerequisite to obtaining an order of protection nor is a person's right to petition for relief affected by that person's leaving the residence or household to avoid domestic abuse.

 

(d) No filing fee or other court costs or fees shall be assessed or charged to a petitioner seeking an order of protection under this act.

 

(e) The clerk of the court shall make available standard petition forms with instructions for completion to be used by a petitioner. Forms are to be prepared by the victim services division within the office of the attorney general. Upon receipt of the initial petition by the clerk of the court, the clerk shall refer the matter to the court. The court may appoint an attorney to assist and advise the petitioner or the petitioner may hire an attorney or file pro se.

 

(f) The court shall not deny a petitioner relief requested pursuant to this act solely because of a lapse of time between an act of domestic abuse and the filing of the petition for an order of protection.

 

(g) It shall not be a bar to filing a petition or receiving an order of protection under this act that:

 

(i) A criminal or civil order is entered in a case pending against the respondent or between the petitioner and respondent;

 

(ii) The petitioner has petitioned for or received orders of protection in the past or that the petitioner has withdrawn a petition or asked to have orders rescinded; or

 

(iii) There is evidence of some domestic abuse on the part of the petitioner.

 

(h) The court may require the respondent to pay costs and fees incurred in bringing an action pursuant to this act including reasonable attorney's fees whether the attorney is court appointed or retained by petitioner.

 

35-21-104. Temporary order of protection; setting hearing.

 

(a) Upon the filing of a petition for order of protection, the court shall:

 

(i) Immediately grant an ex parte temporary order of protection if it appears from the specific facts shown by the affidavit or by the petition that there exists a danger of further domestic abuse;

 

(ii) Cause the temporary order of protection, together with notice of hearing, to be served on the alleged perpetrator of the domestic abuse immediately, either within or outside of this state;

 

(iii) Hold a hearing on the petition within seventy-two (72) hours after the granting of the temporary order of protection or as soon thereafter as the petition may be heard by the court on the question of continuing the order; or

 

(iv) If an ex parte order is not granted, serve notice to appear upon the parties and hold a hearing on the petition for order of protection within seventy-two (72) hours after the filing of the petition or as soon thereafter as the petition may be heard by the court.

 

(b) An order of protection issued under this section shall contain a notice that willful violation of any provision of the order constitutes a crime as defined by W.S. 6-4-404, can result in immediate arrest and may result in further punishment.

 

35-21-105. Order of protection; contents; remedies; order not to affect title to property; conditions.

 

(a) Upon finding that an act of domestic abuse has occurred, the court shall enter an order of protection ordering the respondent household member to refrain from abusing the petitioner or any other household member. The order shall specifically describe the behavior that the court has ordered the respondent to do or refrain from doing. As a part of any order of protection, the court may:

 

(i) Grant sole possession of the residence or household to the petitioner during the period the order of protection is effective or order the respondent to provide temporary suitable alternative housing for petitioner and any children to whom the respondent owes a legal obligation of support;

 

(ii) Repealed by Laws 1987, ch. 196, 2.

 

(iii) Order that the respondent shall not initiate contact with the petitioner;

 

(iv) Prohibit the respondent from abducting, removing or concealing any child in the custody of the petitioner;

 

(v) Restrain the respondent from transferring, concealing, encumbering or otherwise disposing of petitioner's property or the joint property of the parties;

 

(vi) Order other injunctive relief as the court deems necessary for the protection of the petitioner;

 

(vii) If, after a hearing, it finds by a preponderance of evidence that an act of domestic abuse has occurred or that there exists a danger of further domestic abuse, require the respondent to participate in counseling or other appropriate treatment for a specified period of time not to exceed the term of the order of protection and any extension of the order of protection granted under W.S. 35-21-106(b).

 

(b) As part of any order of protection pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the court shall:

 

(i) When the court finds it to be in the best interests of the children, award temporary custody of any children involved to the petitioner. The court shall in this instance provide for visitation with the respondent only if adequate provision can be made for the safety of the children and the petitioner. To provide for the safety of the children and the petitioner, the court may:

 

(A) Order an exchange of children to occur in a protected setting;

 

(B) Order that visitation be arranged and supervised by another person or agency, and if the other person is a family or household member, establish conditions to be followed during the visitation;

 

(C) Order the respondent to attend and complete to the court's satisfaction a program of intervention or other designated counseling as a condition of visitation;

 

(D) Order the respondent to abstain from the consumption of alcohol or controlled substances for up to twenty-four (24) hours before the visitation and during the visitation;

 

(E) Order the respondent to pay a fee through the court to defray the costs of supervised visitation;

 

(F) Prohibit overnight visitation;

 

(G) Require the respondent to post a bond to secure the return and safety of any children; or

 

(H) Impose any other condition it deems necessary for the safety of the petitioner, the children, or other family or household member.

 

(ii) Order the payment of child support and when appropriate, temporary support for the petitioner;

 

(iii) Order the payment of any medical costs incurred by the petitioner as a result of the abuse inflicted by the respondent.

 

(c) The order shall contain a notice that willful violation of any provision of the order constitutes a crime as defined by W.S. 6-4-404, can result in immediate arrest and may result in further punishment.

 

(d) No order issued under this act shall affect title to any property nor allow the petitioner to transfer, conceal, encumber or otherwise dispose of respondent's property or the joint property of the parties.

 

(e) Regardless of whether the court provides visitation under subsection (b) of this section, the court shall, if requested by the petitioner, order the address of the petitioner and any children of the petitioner and respondent be kept confidential.

 

(f) The court may refer an adult petitioner to attend counseling relating to the petitioner's status or behavior as a victim but shall not order or make as a condition of receiving protection that an adult petitioner attend such counseling.

 

(g) No act of the petitioner or the respondent may be construed to waive or nullify any provision of an order of protection.

 

(h) The court shall not make any provisions of a single order of protection mutually effective. The court may issue a separate order of protection to each party, provided:

 

(i) Each party has filed a separate written petition for an order of protection; and

 

(ii) The court makes specific findings on the record that both parties have committed acts of domestic abuse and that each party is entitled to a separate order of protection.

 

(j) The form of the order shall be as provided by rule adopted by the Wyoming supreme court.

 

 

 

35-21-106. Service of order; duration and extension of order; violation; remedies not exclusive.

 

(a) An order of protection granted under this act shall be filed with the clerk of court and a copy shall be sent by the clerk to the county sheriff who shall, after service, notify the local law enforcement agency within the county in which the petitioner resides. The order shall be personally served upon the respondent, unless he or his attorney was present at the time the order was issued.

 

(b) An order of protection granted by the court shall be effective for a fixed period of time not to exceed one (1) year. Either party may move to modify, terminate or extend the order. The order may be extended repetitively upon a showing of good cause for additional periods of time not to exceed one (1) year each. The filing of an action for divorce shall not supersede an order of protection granted under this act.

 

(c) Willful violation of an order of protection is a crime as defined by W.S. 6-4-404. An order of protection granted under this act has statewide applicability and a criminal prosecution under this subsection may be commenced in any county in which the respondent commits an act in violation of the order of protection.

 

(d) The remedies provided by this act are in addition to any other civil or criminal remedy available to the petitioner.

 

35-21-107. Emergency assistance by law enforcement officers; limited liability.

 

 

(a) A person who allegedly has been a victim of domestic abuse may request the assistance of a local law enforcement agency.

 

(b) A local law enforcement officer responding to the request for assistance may take whatever steps are reasonably necessary to protect the victim from further domestic abuse, including:

 

(i) Advising the victim of the remedies available under this act and the availability of shelter, medical care, counseling and other services;

 

(ii) Providing or arranging for transportation of the victim to a medical facility or place of shelter;

 

(iii) Accompanying the victim to the residence to remove the victim's personal clothing and effects required for immediate needs and the clothing and personal effects of any children then in the care of the victim;

 

(iv) Arresting the abusing household member when appropriate;

 

(v) Advising the victim, when appropriate, of the procedure for initiating proceedings under this act or criminal proceedings and the importance of preserving evidence.

 

(c) Any law enforcement officer responding to a request for assistance under this act is immune from civil liability when complying with the request, providing [that] the officer acts in good faith and in a reasonable manner.

 

35-21-108. Protection orders; priority.

 

(a) Any order entered in a district court in this state in a proceeding where the petitioner and respondent are parties shall supersede any inconsistent language in any other order entered under this act or in any other court proceeding in this state.

 

(b) Any order entered under this act shall supersede any inconsistent language in any other order other than one issued by a district court proceeding described in subsection (a) of this section.

 

(c) Any order allowing the conditional release of a defendant in a criminal proceeding in this state where either the petitioner or the respondent is the named defendant shall include by reference all terms and conditions of an order entered under this act where the petitioner and respondent are parties.

 

35-21-109. Full faith and credit for valid foreign protection orders; affirmative defense; exclusion.

 

(a) A valid injunction or order for protection against domestic violence is defined as one:

 

(i) That was issued by a court of another state, tribe or territory;

 

(ii) Where the issuing court had jurisdiction over the parties and the matter under the laws of the state, tribe or territory;

 

(iii) Where the respondent was given reasonable notice and the opportunity to be heard before the order of the foreign state, tribe or territory was issued, provided, in the case of ex parte orders, notice and opportunity to be heard was given as soon as possible after the order was issued, consistent with due process; and

 

(iv) Which has not expired.

 

(b) There shall be a presumption in favor of validity where an order appears valid on its face. The presumption may be rebutted by a showing that the respondent was not given reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard.

 

(c) A valid protection order shall be accorded full faith and credit by the courts of this state and enforced as if it were issued in this state.

 

35-21-110. Statewide protection order registry.

 

(a) The Wyoming attorney general or another agency designated by the governor shall establish a statewide registry of protection orders related to domestic violence and shall maintain a complete and systematic record and index of all valid temporary and final civil and criminal court orders of protection.

 

(b) The data fields of the statewide registry shall include, but need not be limited to, the following information if available:

 

(i) The names of the petitioner and any protected parties;

 

(ii) The name and address of the respondent;

 

(iii) The date the order was entered;

 

(iv) The date the order expires;

 

(v) The relief granted which shall specifically identify the relief awarded and citations related thereto, and designate which of the violations are offenses subject to arrest;

 

(vi) The judicial district and contact information for court administration for the court in which the order was entered; and

 

(vii) The social security number, date of birth and physical description of the respondent.

 

(c) The clerk of the issuing court or the clerk of the court where a foreign order of protection is registered shall send a copy of the protection order to the local sheriff and chief of police who shall promptly enter the protection order into the statewide protection order registry.

 

(d) The statewide protection order registry shall be accessible twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week to provide courts, prosecutors, dispatchers, the department of corrections and law enforcement officers with data concerning valid protection orders issued within the state or filed as a foreign order for purposes of enforcement in the state.

 

35-21-111. Filing and registration of foreign protection orders.

 

(a) A petitioner who obtains a valid order of protection in another state, tribe or territory may file that order by presenting a certified copy of the foreign order to the clerk of district court in the judicial district where the petitioner believes enforcement may be necessary.

 

(b) Filing shall be without fee or cost.

 

(c) The clerk of district court shall forward a copy of the foreign protection order to the local sheriff's office and the chief of police for entry into the statewide protection order registry upon application of a petitioner seeking enforcement.

 

(d) The clerk of district court shall provide the petitioner with a receipt bearing proof of submission of the foreign protection order for entry into the statewide protection order registry system.

 

(e) Filing and registration of the foreign order in the statewide protection order registry shall not be prerequisites for enforcement of the foreign protection order in this state.

 

 

 

35-21-112. Confidentiality in court proceedings.

 

(a) Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, in any proceedings before a court of the state of Wyoming, the confidentiality of the address, city and state of residence or any other information identifying the residence of a victim of domestic abuse shall remain confidential as provided in this section.

 

(b) The victim of domestic abuse may at any point during the court proceedings file a motion with the court for entry of an order providing for the confidentiality of the address, city and state of residence or any other information identifying the residence of the victim of domestic abuse and any children residing with the victim of domestic abuse during the court proceedings. The motion may be accompanied with all relevant affidavits or documents to establish that the person requesting confidentiality is a victim of domestic abuse and that the person may be subject to additional acts of domestic abuse if confidentiality is not maintained.

 

(c) Upon a filing of a motion pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, the court shall issue an order prohibiting the release of the address, city and state of residence and any other information identifying the residence of a person if:

 

(i) The person filing the motion has been granted an order of protection under this act or similar act in another state or territory of the United States and the order of protection remains in effect; or

 

(ii) The court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the person is a victim of domestic abuse and that the person may be subject to additional acts of domestic abuse if confidentiality is not maintained.

 

(d) An order issued under this section shall only provide confidentiality in the action in which it is granted and for those additional purposes specified by law referencing an order issued pursuant to this section.