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Legal Information: Utah

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of
July 19, 2023

What is the legal definition of domestic violence and abuse in Utah?

This section defines domestic violence and abuse for the purposes of getting a protective order:

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. 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. If you do not qualify for a cohabitant abuse protective order, you may be able to get a civil stalking injunction. You can read more about this type of order on our Civil Stalking Injunctions page.

1 UT ST § 78B-7-102(1)
2 UT ST §§ 78B-7-102(12); 77-36-1(4)

What types of protective orders are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of protective orders in Utah.

A temporary ex parte protective order can be granted if the judge believes it that domestic violence or abuse has occurred or that there is a substantial likelihood domestic violence or abuse will occur. The purpose of the order is to protect you from harm, and any other “protected parties” in your petition.1 If the judge grants an ex parte protective order, s/he will set a date for a hearing within 21 days after the order is issued.2 If the judge does not grant you an ex parte order, you can still request to have a hearing for a final protective order within five days after the judge denies your petition.3

A final protective order can be issued only after a court hearing in which both you and the abuser both have a chance to appear in court and present evidence to tell your sides of the story. If the abuser decides not to attend, a protective order can still be granted by the judge. You still may be required to testify about the incidents in your petition.4 A final protective order lasts for three years although it’s possible that the portions of the order known as the “civil provisions,” which we explain at the end of this question, could expire within 150 days unless the judge believes there is “good cause” to extend the expiration date of the civil provisions.5

It’s possible for the order to last more than three years, until a date that the judge determines, if you file a motion before expiration of the protective order in which you prove that:

  1. the abuser has been convicted of a protective order violation or any crime of domestic violence after the protective order was issued; or
  2. you have a “reasonable fear of future harm, abuse, or domestic violence.”5

However, it is possible that after a certain period of time the abuser can file in court to ask for the order to be dismissed. The time period is usually one year but there are exceptions.5 For more information, go to Can the abuser or I request that the order be dismissed? In addition, if you and the abuser are going through a divorce, this can affect the length of the order.6 See If I am going through a divorce, will that affect the length of my protective order? for more information.

1 UT ST § 78B-7-603(1)(a)
2 UT ST § 78B-7-604(1)(a)
3 UT ST § 78B-7-604(3)
4 UT ST § 78B-7-603(3)
5 UT ST § 78B-7-606(1)
6 UT ST § 78B-7-605(3)

What protections can I get in a cohabitant abuse protective order?

In an ex parte protective order, the judge can:

  1. order that the abuser do all of the following:
    • stop committing or threatening to commit domestic violence or abuse and stop harassing you or any family or household member named in the order;
    • stop calling, contacting, or communicating with you or anyone named in the order in any way, including indirect contact. There is an exception for communication related to any parent-time provisions in the order;
    • be excluded from (leave) your home;
    • stay away from your vehicle, home, school, work, place of worship or any other specific place you go to often unless the abuser attends the same school, is employed at the same place of employment, or attends the same place of worship – in that case, the judge cannot order the abuser to stay away from those places but can regulate the abuser’s behavior in those places;
    • stay away from a family or household member’s vehicle, home, school, work, place of worship or any other specific place your family or household member goes to often unless the abuser attends the same school, is employed at the same place of employment, or attends the same place of worship – in that case, the judge cannot order the abuser to stay away from those places but can regulate the abuser’s behavior in those places;
    • 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”;
    • 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;
    • not interfere with or change the your phone, utility or other services;
    • not physically injure, threaten to injure, or take possession of a household animal that is owned or kept by you or the abuser;
    • not use alcohol or illegal drugs before or during visitation; and
    • not take the children out of Utah;
  2. grant you or another person temporary custody of any minor children you share with the abuser;
  3. order an attorney to be a guardian ad litem for any minor children to represent their interests;
  4. order the respondent to maintain an existing wireless telephone contract or account;
  5. 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; and
  6. order anything else the judge decides is necessary for your safety and the safety of your family or household members.1

In a full (final) protective order, the judge can order:

  • all of the protections listed above; and
  • the following additional protections:
    1. order your wireless phone provider to:
      • transfer the account from the abuser’s name to yours; and
      • transfer to you any phone numbers that are primarily used by you or by someone with whom you will live while the order is in effect;
    2. 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;2 and
    3. child support and/or spousal support .3

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

Note: The protections listed in numbers two through six in the first paragraph and number two in the second paragraph are known as the “civil provisions” of the order.4 This is important to keep in mind as you continue reading in this section because the laws regarding expiration, modification, dismissal, and violations of the order distinguish between civil provisions and other provisions.

1 UT ST § 78B-7-603(2); see the temporary protective order form
2 UT ST §§ 78B-7-603(3),(4); 78B-7-117; see the protective order form
3 See UT ST § 78B-7-603(7)
4 UT ST § 78B-7-603(6)(b)

In 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.1

1 UT ST § 78B-7-104

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

There is no fee to file for a protective order nor to serve a protective order.1

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 Places that 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.2 You will find contact information for courthouses on the UT Courthouse Locations page.

If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.

1 UT ST § 78B-7-105(4)
2 UT ST § 78B-7-105(3)

If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?

When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.

There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:

  1. The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
  2. One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
  3. If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.

However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.

You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.

Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.