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Know the Laws: Utah

UPDATED June 22, 2016

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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 Utah, occurs when a “cohabitant

  • purposely causes you physical harm;
  • tries to cause you physical harm; or
  • makes you afraid that you will be physically harmed.*

Note: If you are being abused by someone who you dated but with whom you never lived, you may be eligible for a dating violence protective order (which lasts for 180 days) – see the Utah Courts website for more information.  If you are seeking a protective order only for your child (and not also for yourself), your child may be eligible for a child protective order, which you can read more about on the Utah Courts website.  If you do not qualify for a domestic violence protective order, you may be able to get a civil stalking injunction.  You can read more about this typr of order on our Stalking Injunctions page.

* UT ST § 78B-7-102(1)

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back to topWhat types of protective orders are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of protective orders in Utah.  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.

Ex Parte Protective Order
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 is a Latin term that means “from one side.”  Basically, it means that the abuser is not present when your petition is presented to the judge and does not receive prior notice that you are requesting the order.

A judge will grant you an ex parte order if s/he believes that  one is necessary to protect you (and any other “protected parties” in your petition) from 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.*1  If the judge does not grant you an ex parte order you can still request to have a hearing for a full protective order.*2

A full protective order can be issued only after the abuser has an opportunity to attend a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to tell your sides of the story.  The abuser must have proper notice of the hearing for the full protective order to be granted.  If s/he decides not to attend, a full protective order can still be granted by the judge (and you still may be required to testify about the incidents in your petition).*3 

The length of time that the full protective order lasts depends on the terms of the order.  The civil part of the order, dealing with property, custody, etc., will either expire in 150 days or be reviewed by the judge in 150 days (and then possibly extended).  The criminal part of the order, which deals with the abuser staying away from you, not contacting you, not abusing you, not having firearms, etc., can last forever. (Note: The protective order clearly divides up which sections are considered civil and criminal, as you can see on the Utah Courts website here.) After two years, the abuser can file in court ask for the order to be dismissed. *4  For more information, go to Can the order be dismissed by me or the abuser?  Can I modify the order?

* UT ST § 78B-7-106(1)(a)
*1 UT ST § 78B-7-107(1)(a)
*2 UT ST § 78B-7-107(3)
*3 UT ST § 78B-7-106(3)
*4 UT ST § 78B-7-106(6); see Utah Courts website

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back to topHow can a protective order help me?

In an ex parte protective order, the judge can order that the abuser:

  1. stop committing or threatening to commit domestic violence or abuse against you and any family or household member named in the order;
  2. stop harassing, calling, contacting, or communicating with you in any way, including indirect contact;
  3. be excluded from (leave) your home;
  4. stay away from your vehicle, home, school, work, and any other place you and the family/household members named in your order go often;
  5. not purchase, use, or possess a firearm or other weapon specified by the judge (Note: To order this, the judge must find that the abuser’s use or possession of a weapon may pose a “serious threat of harm to you”); and
  6. give you use of an automobile or any other personal items and order that law enforcement accompany you to your residence to make sure that you are safe while getting possession of these items;
  7. not interfere with or change the your phone, utility or other services;
  8. not use alcohol or illegal drugs before or during visitation;
  9. not take the children out of Utah.*

    An ex parte protective order can also include any of the following:
  10. grant you temporary custody of any minor children you share with the abuser;
  11. order an attorney to be a guardian ad litem  for any minor children to represent their interests;
  12. order anything else the judge decides is necessary for your safety and the safety of your family or household members; and
  13. order you and the abuser to provide financial documents at the hearing for a final protective order if you requested child support or spousal support**

    In a full protective order, the judge can order:
  14. all of the protections in numbers 1-12, listed above;
  15. and the following additional protections:
    • make arrangements for parenting time (with or without supervision by a third party) or deny parenting time if it is necessary to protect the safety of you or your child;*** and
    • child support and/or spousal support .****

Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

* UT ST§ 78B-7-106(2)(a)-(e); see the temporary protective order form
** UT ST§ 78B-7-106(2)(f)-(h)
*** UT ST§ 78B-7-106(3); see the protective order form
**** See UT ST§ 78B-7-106(7)

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

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

* UT ST § 78B-7-104

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