Iron County
Human Services Department & Associates

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Protective Order / Protective Placement

A court can issue an order for a person who has a guardian to be protectively placed in a home, adult family home, assisted living, nursing home, or other facility. The legal standard states that without the protective placement, the individual is totally incapable of providing for their own care and well-being, therefore, creating a substantial risk of serious harm to themselves or others.


Protective services may be ordered for a person under guardianship who lives in their own home, apartment, or residential facility. A wide range of services may be available including, but not limited to case management, in-home care, nursing services, and adult day care.


Protective placements must be in the least restrictive setting necessary to meet the individual's needs and are reviewed annually by the court. To help the court review placement orders, annual reviews are completed by legal services/APS coordinators for any person who has a guardian and a court-ordered placement. This is referred to as a Watts Review.

State Laws Regarding Guardianships

Guardianships and Protective Orders are defined in Wisconsin Statues Chapters 54 and 55. They are legal methods for appointing an alternative decision-maker and identifying required services for individuals who are legally incompetent. These individuals are usually people with one of the following: developmental disabilities, memory loss, chronic and serious mental illness, substance abuse issues, or other conditions that limit their decision making ability.


While positive outcomes are usually the result of guardianship and/or protective placement orders, these legal processes limit or remove rights to which individuals in our society are normally entitled. Care must be taken to protect each individual's rights while assuring that individuals who are legally incompetent receive the support and services they need.