Step 1: Go to the courthouse.
You can file for an order of protection at your circuit court clerk’s office. If there is no circuit court clerk office in your area, you may go to the district court clerk’s office.1 Go to the WY Courthouse Locations page to find a court in your area.
It is sometimes helpful to bring the following information about the abuser with you, if you have it:
- a photo of the abuser;
- addresses of where s/he lives and works;
- his/her phone number;
- a description what his/her car looks like and the license plate number.
Bring some form of ID for yourself, if you have it, for when the petition gets notarized in court.
1 Wyoming Code § 35-21-103(a)
Step 3: Fill out the forms.
On the petition, you will be called the “petitioner” and the abuser will be called the “respondent.”
Carefully fill out the petition. Be specific. Write briefly about the incidents of violence, using descriptive language (slapping, hitting, grabbing, threatening, etc.) that fits your situation. Include details and dates, if possible.
Before you sign the forms, check with the court clerk so you can sign it in front of a notary. Once you’re finished, give the forms to the clerk.
You shouldn’t be asked to pay anything.
Step 4: Hearing for a temporary order
After you finish filling out your petition, the court clerk will bring it to a judge. The judge will look it over and may want to ask you some questions. If the judge believes that there is a danger of further abuse to you, the judge is supposed to give you a temporary order of protection.1 The temporary order is supposed to protect you until you can have a final hearing. The court is supposed to arrange for service of the temporary order regardless of whether the abuser lives in WY or out of state.2
Whether a judge grants you a temporary order or not, you will usually be given a court date for a final hearing within 72 hours of filing your petition. If a final hearing cannot be scheduled within 72 hours, it will be scheduled as soon as possible afterwards.3 The court will give you a piece of paperwork marked “Notice of Hearing.” The Notice of Hearing will have the time and date of your final hearing written on it.
1 WY ST § 35-21-104(a)(i)
2 WY ST § 35-21-104(a)(ii)
3 WY ST § 35-21-104(a)(iii),(iv)
Step 5: Service of process
The abuser must be served (given) papers that give him/her your temporary restraining order (if the judge gave you one) and inform him/her about the hearing date. The clerk of court can give you information on how the abuser will be served but according to WY law, the court is supposed to arrange for service of the temporary order regardless of whether the abuser lives in WY or out of state.1
If the respondent is not served before your hearing, ask the judge to reschedule the hearing. Be sure to also ask the judge to extend your temporary order if you have one.
1 WY ST § 35-21-104(a)(ii)
You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?
Step 6: Hearing for a final order of protection
Before you can get a final order of protection, you will need to have a hearing in front of a judge. The abuser will also have the chance to be there. You must go to the hearing. If you do not go to the hearing, your temporary order will expire and you will have to start the process over.
To get a domestic violence order for protection, you must:
- Prove that the respondent has committed acts of domestic violence (as defined by the law) against you; and
- Convince a judge that you need protection and the specific things you asked for in your petition.
For information on what counts as domestic violence in an order of protection hearing, see What is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Wyoming?
See the At the Hearing section under the Preparing for Court tab at the top of this page for ways you can show the judge that you were abused. You can learn more about the court system in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section.
If the abuser does not show up for the hearing, the judge may still grant you an order of protection, or reschedule the hearing. If the hearing is rescheduled, be sure to ask the judge to have your temporary order extended until that date. If you show up to court and the abuser has a lawyer and you do not, you may ask the judge for a continuance to set a later court date so you can have time to find a lawyer for yourself. To find a lawyer in your area, please visit our WY Finding a Lawyer page.