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Know the Laws: Utah

UPDATED November 26, 2012

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A protective order is a civil order that provides protection from a current or former dating partner, a member of your household, or someone you have a child in common with.

Basic information

back to topWhat is the legal definition of abuse in Utah?

This section defines abuse for the purposes of getting a protective order.

Abuse, for the purposes of filing for a protective order in UT, occurs when someone:

  • purposely causes you physical harm;
  • tries to cause you physical harm; or
  • makes you afraid that you will be physically harmed.*
* U.C.A. 1953 § 78B-7-102(1)

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back to topWhat is a protective order? What types are there?

A protective order is a civil court order designed to keep your abuser from hurting you anymore.

There are two types of protective orders. The first is called an ex parte protective order, which is designed to give you immediate protection. The second type is referred to simply as a protective order. We refer to it as a full protective order below so that it is easier to see the difference.

An ex parte protective order is designed to temporarily protect you from the abuser until you can have a court hearing for a full protective order. Ex parte means that your abuser is not present when your petition is presented to the judge, and does not have to know that the order has been requested.

A judge will grant you an ex parte order if he/she believes that you are in danger of immediate harm. If the judge grants an ex parte protective order, s/he will set a date for a hearing within 20 days after the order is issued.* If the judge does not grant you an ex parte order you can still request to have a hearing for a protective order.**

Even though your abuser may not be present when you petition for an ex parte protective order, the court may give the following temporary orders:

  1. Stop the abuser (respondent) from threatening to commit or committing domestic violence against you or your household/family members
  2. Stop the abuser (respondent) from harassing, telephoning, contacting, or communicating with you
  3. Order abuser (respondent) to leave and stay away from your home and stay away from your school, or work
  4. Prohibit the abuser (respondent) from purchasing, using, or possessing a firearm or other weapon specified by the court
  5. Order that abuser (respondent) give you use of an automobile or any other personal items
  6. Grant you (petitioner) temporary custody of an minor children***
A full protective order can be issued only after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to tell your sides of the story. The only requirement is that your abuser has notice of the hearing. If he/she decides not to attend, a full protective order can still be granted by the judge. The full protective order lasts longer and can offer more relief than an ex parte order. Exactly how long the full order will last will be determined by the judge who hears your case.****

In addition to the protections listed above under the ex parte order, a full protective order can also specify arrangements for parent-child time between abuser (respondent) and a minor child. In some cases the court will deny parenting time to the abuser to protect the safety of the child, or require supervision during visitation.** See How can a full protective order help me? for a complete list of the relief offered by a full protective order.

If you do not qualify for a domestic violence protective order, you may be able to get a stalking injunction. You can read more about what this is here: What is a stalking injunction?

* U.C.A. 1953 § 78B-7-107(1)(a)
** U.C.A. 1953 § 78B-7-107(3)*** U.C.A. 1953 § 78B-7-106(2)
**** U.C.A. 1953 § 78B-7-106(6); the civil part of the protective order will be expire or be reevaluated by the judge within 150 days; after two years from the date the protective order was given, a hearing may be held to dismiss the criminal portion of the protective order.

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back to topHow can a full protective order help me?

A full protective order can:

  • Order your abuser to stop abusing you and your family
  • Order your abuser to stop contacting you or communicating with you in any way
  • Order your abuser to leave and stay away from your place of residence
  • Prohibit your abuser from interfering in any way with the utility services to your residence
  • Order the abuser to stay away from your school, place of employment, and other places that you, your children, or other household members frequent.
  • Prohibit your abuser from purchasing, using, or possessing a firearm or other weapon
  • Award you possession of your residence, automobile and/or other essential personal items
  • Order a law enforcement officer to come with you when you go back to your residence to get any possessions that were awarded to you by the court
  • Order a law enforcement officer to be present when your abuser comes to remove any of his/her personal belongings from your residence
  • Order the Department of Child and Family Services to conduct an investigation into the possibilities of child abuse
  • Grant you temporary custody of your minor child/ren
  • Grant or deny visitation rights to your abuser, and/or require that the visitation be supervised
  • Order your abuser to pay child support
  • Order your abuser to pay spousal support
  • Order any other relief that the court considers necessary for your safety and the safety of your household.*
Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

* U.C.A. 1953 § 78B-7-106

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back to topIn which county can I file for a protective order?

You can file a petition in the county where you live, in the county where the abuser lives, or in the county where the abuse took place.*

* U.C.A. § 78B-7-104(2)

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