En Español
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or (TTY) 1-800-787-3224

Know the Laws: Utah

UPDATED November 26, 2012

View by Section

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)

Did you find this information helpful?

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.

Did you find this information helpful?

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

Did you find this information helpful?

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)

Did you find this information helpful?

Who can get a protective order

back to topWho can get a protective order?

You can get a protective order if your abuser is at least 16 years old and:

  • a current or former spouse;
  • a dating partner you live with or have lived with;
  • a person related to you by blood or marriage;
  • a person you have a child with;
  • a person you have an unborn child with; or
  • a person you live with or have lived with.*
* U.C.A. 1954 § 78B-7-102(2)

Did you find this information helpful?

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

Yes. Under Utah law, same-sex partners may file for protective orders if they have lived together. You can get a protective order if your abuser is at least 16 years old and:

  • a current or former spouse;
  • a dating partner you live with or have lived with;
  • a person related to you by blood or marriage;
  • a person you have a child with;
  • a person you have an unborn child with; or
  • a person you live with or have lived with.*
There may also be other legal options for you as well. To find help in your state, please click on the UT Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.

* U.C.A. 1954 § 78B-7-102(2)

Did you find this information helpful?

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

Maybe. You can get a protective order against an abuser who is 16 years or older (or married).*

If your abuser is under 16 years of age, you may file for a protective order in juvenile court. For more information, see the UT Courts website.

* Utah State Courts, The Court Can Make Orders to Protect You, (2008) http://www.utcourts.gov/resources/forms/protectorder/information_on_court_ordered_protection.htm#have_to_be_adult

Did you find this information helpful?

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

Maybe. You and the person the protective order is against must be at least 16 years old (or married or emancipated).*1 If you are under 16, an adult can file a protective order for you.*2

If you are a minor and a person wishes to file a protective order on your behalf, the procedure is similar to filing for a full protective order. An adult must go to the court to file the petition on your behalf. The judge will then look to see if there are any cases related to you or other parties in the case. The court will also request any necessary records from the law enforcement agency, and get any additional background information they need.*3

If the judge determines that you, are being abused or in imminent danger of being abused, s/he will grant an ex parte protective order. In this case, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem, a lawyer who represents that best interest of the minor.*4

The judge will schedule a hearing for 20 days after the ex parte order. A copy of the petition, the ex parte order, and a notice of hearing will be served on the abuser. The abuser has the right to show up at the haring to tell his/her side of the story, but does not have to. If after the hearing, the judge decides that you are being abused or is in imminent danger of being abused, the judge will grant a child protective order. *5

Note: You cannot get a protective order against a parent, stepparent, or adoptive parent if you are a minor.*6 However, anyone who is not a minor can file a petition for a protective order on your behalf.

Note: Additionally, you cannot get a protective order against a natural, adoptive, step, or foster sibling who is under the age of 18. *7

*1 U.C.A. 1953 § 78B-7-102(2)
*2 U.C.A. 1953 78B-7-202(1); Utah State Courts, The Court Can Make Orders to Protect You, (2008) http://www.utcourts.gov/resources/forms/protectorder/information_on_court_ordered_protection.htm#have_to_be_adult
*3 U.C.A. 1953 78B-7-202(2)
*4 U.C.A. 1953 78B-7-202(3)
*5 U.C.A. 1953 § 78B-7-203
*6 U.C.A. 1953 § 78B-7-102(3)(a)
*7 U.C.A. 1953 § 78B-7-102(3)(b)

Did you find this information helpful?

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

Yes. Under the legal definition, same-sex partners may file for protective orders if they have lived together. However, it will be up to the judge to decide whether or not you are granted one.

If this applies to you, please talk to someone in a local domestic violence organization who can help you through the process and determine how your local judges are likely to rule.  See UT State and Local Programs to find a domestic violence organization near you.  You can also find organizations dedicated to meeting the needs of the LGBTQ community here.

Did you find this information helpful?

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 find a lawyer. This is especially important if your abuser has obtained a lawyer. Even if your 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 and/or court staff may be able to answer some of your questions or help you fill out the necessary court forms. You will find contact information for courthouses on the UT Courthouse Locations page.

*U.C.A. 1953 § 78B-7-105(3)

Did you find this information helpful?

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

In Utah, protection orders do not cover a victim of abuse whose abuser is anyone besides:

  • a spouse
  • a person you have lived with
  • a relative
  • someone you have a child with.
However, assault, stalking, and harassment are all against the law. If one of these crimes is being committed against you, you may want to consider calling the police. If charges are pressed against the perpetrator, a judge may be able to order him/her to stay away from you.

If you are being stalked, you may be able to file for a stalking injunction. Please see: What is a stalking injunction?

You can also visit our Staying Safe page for ways to increase your safety. If you are being stalked or harassed, go to the Stalking Resource Center website for more information on stalking and harassment laws, as well safety planning information.

Protective orders also do not cover many types of emotional or mental abuse. If you're being mentally or emotionally abused, please contact a domestic violence organization in your area. They can help you figure out your options and offer you support. You can find a local organization in your area on our Utah State and Local Programs page.

Note: If you were denied an ex parte protective order, you can still request to have a hearing for a permanent 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. This hearing will give you a chance to collect evidence and witnesses.  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)

Did you find this information helpful?

Steps for getting a protective order

back to topStep 1: Go to a district court and request an application

Go to the district court in the county where you live, or where the abuser lives. You can find a court near you by going to our Courthouse Locations page. Find the civil court clerk and request a petition for a protective order. You may also find links to petitions online by going to Download Court Forms.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topStep 2: Bring identification and information about your abuser.

It is sometimes helpful to bring the following information about your abuser:

  • a photo
  • addresses of residence and employment
  • phone numbers
  • a description and plate number of your abuser's car
  • history of drugs or gun ownership
Remember to also bring some form of personal identification (a driver's license or other identification that includes your picture).

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topStep 3: Fill out the necessary forms

The clerk will give you with the forms that you need to file. On the protective order form, you will be the "petitioner" and your abuser will be the "respondent."

Carefully fill out the forms. Write about the most recent incident of violence first, using descriptive language (slapping, hitting, grabbing, choking, threatening, etc.) that fits your situation.

Be specific. Include details and dates, if possible. It will also be important to write any previous incidents of abuse and any other court action you have taken against your abuser.

If you need assistance filling out the form, ask the clerk for help. Some courts may have an advocate that can assist you. A domestic violence organization may also be able to provide you with help filling out the form. See UT State and Local Programs for the location of an organization near you.

Note: Be sure to sign the forms in front of the court clerk. Once you have completed your paperwork, return them to the clerk. The probation department may then run a "check" of your abuser's criminal and protective order history.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topStep 4: A judge will review your application

After you finish filling out your application, bring it to the court clerk. The clerk will forward it to a judge. The judge may wish to ask you questions as s/he reviews your petition. The judge will decide whether or not to issue the ex parte order.

If the judge grants you an ex parte order, the court clerk will give you a copy of the order. Review the order before you leave the courthouse to make sure that the information is correct. If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk to correct the order before you leave. Be sure to keep the order with you at all times. You may want to keep copies in your car, workplace, or daycare.

If you seek a full protective order the judge will set a date for a hearing. You will be given papers that state the time and date of your hearing for a protective order.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topStep 5: Service of process

The abuser must be served with a notice of hearing and with any protective orders that a judge has granted you. The orders are not valid until the abuser has been served with them. This will be handled by the appropriate law enforcement agency. The clerk will either send the order to the police, or have you bring it to the police yourself. The police will then find the abuser and serve him notice of the ex parte order (if the judge gave you one) as well as the scheduled "return hearing."

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topStep 6: What will I have to prove at the hearing?

As the petitioner requesting a protective order, you must:

  • Prove that the defendant has committed acts of domestic abuse (as defined by the law).
  • Convince a judge that you need protection and the specific things you asked for in the Complaint (petition).
See Preparing Your Case for ways you can show the judge that you were abused.

Did you find this information helpful?

After the hearing

back to topWhat should I do when I leave the courthouse?

  • Make several copies of the order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • Let your employer, domestic violence advocate, minister, clergy, family members, and/or your closest friends know that you have a protective order in effect.
  • Leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children’s’ school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
    • One week after court, call your local law enforcement offices to make sure they have received copies of the order.
  • Take steps to safety plan. You may wish to consider changing your locks and your phone number.
Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order. Women can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school. Many batterers obey protective orders, but some do not. It is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe. We have safety planning suggestions on our Staying Safe page. Advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support. To find a shelter or organization in your area please visit the UT State and Local Programs page.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topI did not get a protective order. What can I do?

If you are not granted 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 come up with a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need. You will find a list of Utah resources on our UT Where to Find Help page. You will also find information on safety planning on our Staying Safe page.

You can also reapply for a protective order if a new incident of domestic abuse occurs after you are denied the order.

If you were denied an ex-parte protective order, you can still request to have a hearing for a final 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)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat can I do if the abuser violates the order?

It is a crime and contempt of court if the abuser knowingly violates the order in any way. You can call the police or sheriff, even if you think it is a minor violation. An abuser can be arrested, fined and jailed for violating any provision in the order.

Make sure a police report is filled out, even if no arrest is made. If you have legal documentation of all violations of the protective order it will help you have the protective order extended or modified. It is also a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge number in case you want to follow up on your case.

If the police do not make an arrest in response to a violation of your protective order, you may still file civil charges against the abuser yourself in a district court. You may have to hire an attorney to file civil charges.

If you feel that that an arrest should have been made by the police but they failed to do so, you can file a complaint through the attorney general’s victim’s rights council. The attorney general’s phone number is (801) 366-0260. Or toll free at: 1-800-244-4636.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topHow do I change or extend the order?

If you want to have your order modified (changed), terminated, or extended, you will have to go back to the court where you received the order and file a motion for another hearing. See the UT Courts website for the necessary form to modify a protective order.

The court will either immediately grant the modification ex parte (without the abuser there), and set a later date for a hearing, or set a date for a hearing to hear your request for modification.* Before the hearing, your abuser will be served with a copy of the motion and a request to be present at the hearing. You must attend this hearing and tell the judge why the change, extension, or cancellation is necessary.

Note: If you want to extend your protective order, you must apply for an extension (a motion to modify the order) before your original order expires.

Note: The court may be less willing to offer you its protection in the future if you have an order dismissed (canceled).

*U.C.A. 1953 § 78B-7-106(1)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat happens if I move?

Your protection order is good anywhere in the state of Utah.

Additionally, federal law provides what is called "Full Faith and Credit," which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including all 50 states, US Territories and tribal lands.* Different states have different rules for enforcing out-of-state protection orders. You can find out about your state's policies by contacting a domestic violence program, the clerk of courts, or the prosecutor in your area. You can also find information on our website under UT Moving to Another State with a Protective Order or Enforcing Your Out-Of-State Order in the state you have moved to (choose your new state from the drop-down menu on the left od the screen).

If you are moving out of state, you should call the battered women's program in the state where you are going to find out how that state treats out-of-state orders.

If you are moving to a new state, you may also call the National Center on Full Faith and Credit (1-800-903-0111) for information on enforcing your order there.

Note: Protection orders may not be enforceable on military bases, and military protective orders may not be enforceable off base. Please check with your local police department, court clerk, and/or domestic violence advocate for more details. Please see our Military Info page for more information.

*18 U.S.C. §§ 2265-2266

Did you find this information helpful?

back to top