Who 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.1 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 - including a parent, grandparent, sibling, or any other person related by blood or marriage to the second degree;
- someone with whom you are or were in a consensual sexual relationship;
- 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.2
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.3
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 Stalking Injunctions page.
1 UT ST § 78B-7-602(1)
2 UT ST § 78B-7-102(4)(a)
3 UT ST § 78B-7-102(4)(b)
Can 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?
You can find information about LGBTQIA victims of abuse and what types of barriers they may face on our LGBTQIA Victims page.
Can I get a protective order if I am a minor?
If you are a minor, to file for a protective order on your own, you and the person the protective order is against must be at least 16 years old, married, or emancipated.1 If you are under 16, an adult can file a child protective order on your behalf in juvenile court.2
1 UT ST § 78B-7-102(4)(a)
2 UT ST § 78B-7-202(1)
Can I get a protective order against a minor?
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.1
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.
1 UT ST § 78B-7-102(4)(a)
Can two people have protective orders against each other (mutual orders)?
When two people have protective orders issued against each other, this is often referred to as “mutual orders.” A court can only grant mutual orders if each person:
- files an independent petition against the other for a protective order, and both petitions are served (in other words, if only one person files a petition, a judge can’t decide to issue mutual orders as a result of that one petition);
- proves at a hearing that the other person committed abuse or domestic violence; and
- proves that the abuse or domestic violence committed by the other person was not self-defense.1
However, if the person filing for a protective order is already the respondent (or criminal defendant) on an existing dating violence protective order, cohabitant abuse protective order (from Utah or another state), a child protective order, or ex parte child protective order, the following additional restrictions apply before the order can be issued:
- the case must be heard in the same court that issued the existing protective order; or
- if the case is being heard in a different court, the judge must:
- determine that it would be impractical for the original court to hear the case; or
- contact the court that issued the original protective order to discuss the matter.2
1 UT ST § 78B–7–108(1)
2 UT ST § 78B–7–108(3)
How much does it cost to get a protective order? Do I need a lawyer?
There is no filing fee to get 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(3)
2 UT ST § 78B-7-105(2)(c)
What 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 Safety Tips page. You will find a list of Utah resources on our UT Places that 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. 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 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 within five days of when the judge denies the petition.1 At the hearing, you may want to present evidence and witnesses to help prove to the judge why you need a protective order. See At the Hearing for more information on how to go about this. It may also be helpful to have a lawyer.
1 UT ST § 78B-7-604(3)