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Know the Laws: Utah

UPDATED December 27, 2016

Protective Orders due to Domestic Violence/Abuse

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A protective order is a civil order that provides protection to a victim of domestic violence/abuse from a current or former "cohabitant," which is defined here.

Who can get a protective order

back to topWho can file for a protective order?

You can get a protective order for yourself and your minor child against a “cohabitant” who commits domestic violence or abuse against you or when the judge believes there is a "substantial likelihood" of abuse or domestic violence.*  A “cohabitant” is defined as someone who is at least 16 years old and is:

  • your current or former spouse;
  • someone who is or was living as if s/he were a spouse; 
  • a person related to you by blood or marriage;
  • a person with whom you have a child in common;
  • someone with whom you are expecting a child (if one of the parties is pregnant); or
  • a person with whom you live/lived in the same home.**

A “cohabitant” does not include:

  • the relationship of natural parent, adoptive parent, or step-parent to a minor; or
  • the relationship between natural, adoptive, step, or foster siblings who are under 18 years of age.***

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 type of order on our Stalking Injunctions page.

* UT ST​ § 78B-7-103(1)
** UT ST § 78B-7-102(2)
*** UT ST § 78B-7-102(3)

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back to topCan I get a protective order against a same-sex partner?

In Utah, you may apply for a protective order against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Who can file for a protective order?  You must also be the victim of an act of domestic violence or abuse, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic violence/abuse in Utah?

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back to topCan I get a protective order if I am a minor?

Maybe.  To file for a protective order on your own, you (the minor) and the person the protective order is against must be at least 16 years old (or married or emancipated).*  If you are under 16, an adult can file a child protective order on your behalf in juvenile court.**  For more information on child protective orders, see the Utah Courts website.

* UT ST § 78B-7-102(2)
**UT ST § 78B-7-202(1)

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back to topCan I get a protective order against a minor?

Maybe.  You may be able to get a protective order against an abuser who is 16 years or older or someone who is under 16 but is legally emancipated or married.*

If both the petitioner and the abuser are under 16 years of age, an adult may file for a child protective order on behalf of a child in juvenile court.  For more information on child protective orders, see the Utah Courts website.

* UT ST § 78B-7-102(2)

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back to topHow much does it cost to get a protective order? Do I need a lawyer?

Nothing.  There is no filing fee to get a protective order.*

Although you do not need a lawyer to file for a protective order, it may be to your advantage to have a lawyer, especially if the abuser has a lawyer.  Even if the abuser does not have a lawyer, it is recommended that you contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.

If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance and domestic violence organizations on the UT Where to Find Help page.  In addition, the domestic violence organizations in your area may be able to answer some of your questions or help you fill out the necessary court forms.  If you are not represented by an attorney, the clerk is required to provide assistance with filling out the forms and filing your paperwork.**  You will find contact information for courthouses on the UT Courthouse Locations page.

* UT ST § 78B-7-105(3)
** UT ST § 78B-7-105(2)(c)

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back to topWhat if I do not qualify for a protective order?

If you do not qualify for a protective order, there are still some things you can do to stay safe.  It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence resource centers in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe.  They can help you develop a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need.  For safety planning help, ideas, and information, go to our Staying Safe page.  You will find a list of Utah resources on our UT Where to Find Help page.

If you were not granted a protective order because your relationship with the abuser does not qualify you for one, you may be able to seek protection through a dating violence protective order (if you are being abused by someone who you dated but with whom you never lived). 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 type of order on our Stalking Injunctions page.  You may also be able to report any criminal behavior to the police.

Note: If you were denied an ex parte protective order, you can still request to have a hearing for a full protective order.*  At the hearing, you may want to present evidence and witnesses to help prove to the judge why you need a protective order.  See Preparing Your Case for more information on how to go about this.  It may also be helpful to have a lawyer.

* UT ST § 78B-7-107(3)

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