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Domestic Abuse, § 813.12(1) — “Household Member”

Annette Petrowsky v. Brad Krause, 223 Wis. 2d 32, 588 N.W.2d 318 (Ct. App. 1998)
For Krause: Russell D. Bohach
For Petrowsky: Thomas McAdams, Pro Bono Project

Issue/Holding:

The issue on appeal is who constitutes a “household member” under the domestic abuse statute. This involves the construction of a statute. Interpretation of a statute is a question of law that appellate courts review without deference to the trial court. See State ex rel. Reimann v. Circuit Court, 214 Wis.2d 604, 613, 571 N.W.2d 385, 387 (1997). The relevant statute here is § 813.12(1)(c), Stats., which defines a “household member” for the purposes of domestic abuse restraining orders and injunctions. The domestic abuse statute only applies to abuse by adult family members or adult household members. See § 813.12(1)(a). As stated above, the statute defines a household member as “a person currently or formerly residing in a place of abode with another person.” Section 813.12(1)(c)….

The statute uses the word “reside” to define the actions of a household member. The plain meaning of reside implies a continuous arrangement. …

In accordance with the clear language of the statute, in order for Petrowsky to meet her initial burden, the facts must show that the parties were in a continuous living arrangement. … Their summer excursions, while perhaps frequent, did not amount to a domestic living arrangement. The burden was on Petrowsky to show that the parties were living together. We disagree with the trial court’s conclusion that she met this burden. Thus, the trial court erred in issuing a domestic abuse injunction under § 813.12(4), Stats. We reverse.1

 

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