What is the legal definition of dating violence in Utah?
For the purposes of getting a dating violence protective order, you must be the victim of dating violence or abuse by a dating partner. Dating violence is when your dating partner commits:
- any criminal offense involving violence or physical harm or threat of violence or physical harm; or
- any attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit a criminal offense involving violence or physical harm against you.1
Abuse by a dating partner is defined as:
- causing or attempting to cause you physical harm; or
- placing you in reasonable fear of imminent physical harm.2
1 UT ST § 78B-7-102
2 UT ST § 78B-7-102(1)
What is the legal definition of a dating relationship?
A dating relationship is a social relationship that is romantic or intimate, or that is the goal of you or the other person. However, a dating relationship does not have to involve sexual intimacy.1
In deciding whether you and the abuser have a dating relationship, the judge will consider the whole situation and surrounding circumstances, including:
- whether you and the abuser formed an interpersonal bond beyond casual socializing;
- the length of your relationship;
- the nature and amount of interactions between you and the abuser, including communications showing the intent to start a dating relationship;
- ongoing expectations of you and the abuser about the relationship;
- whether you and the abuser presented yourselves as a couple to others either by actions or statements; and
- whether there are other reasons to support or disprove a finding that a dating relationship exists.2
1 UT ST § 78B-7-102(9)(a)
2 UT ST § 78B-7-102(9)(c)
What types of dating violence protective orders are there? How long do they last?
There are two types of dating violence protective orders in Utah:
- a temporary (ex parte) dating violence protective order; and
- a dating violence protective order issued after notice.
A temporary (ex parte) dating violence protective order can be granted without notice to the abuser.1 The judge must schedule a hearing date for a final protective order within 20 days after issuing the temporary order.2 A judge cannot extend your order for more than 20 days unless you are unable to be at the hearing, the abuser has not been served, or there are other extreme circumstances. However, the temporary order cannot be extended for more than 180 days from when the judge first issued the order.3
A dating violence protective order issued after notice and the opportunity for a hearing can last for three years.4
1 UT ST § 78B-7-402(2)
2 UT ST § 78B-7-405(1)(a)
3 UT ST § 78B-7-405(b),(c)
4 UT ST § 78B-7-405(e)
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.