Protective Orders in Utah are governed by the Cohabitant Abuse Act which begins with section 78B-7-101 of Utah Code Annotated.
Any victim of past or potential future violence or abuse by a current or past “co-habitant” may request a protective order from a Utah district court. “Co-habitant” really means that you have either lived with that person or that you are related by blood, marriage, or through a child out of wedlock. The court does not charge for the filing of a protective order and most district courts have an office that will assist you in the preparation of documents, to file the documents, or serve the documents- all for no charge. If you use a lawyer to argue or defend a protective order filing, that lawyer will probably charge attorneys fees.
A protective order is only appropriate when there is fear of physical harm to a person. While verbal abuse and harassment can be very traumatizing, it is not appropriate to address those issues using a protective order; rather, you may wish to get a civil injunction (a restraining order).
A protective order will affect the civil rights of the other person (the Respondent) and should not be taken lightly. The court severely frowns on people who use protective orders for strategic positioning in a divorce or custody action. The existence of a protective order can effect a Respondent’s right to carry or own a firearm under State and Federal law, a Respondent’s ability to have security clearances for jobs and government contracts, and a Respondent’s ability to maintain certain types of employment. If you are not in threat of physical harm, talk to a lawyer about other options available to you. However, if you are in threat of physical harm, do not hesitate to go to the court and use their free services to pursue a protective order.
Many initial protective orders are “Ex Parte” which means that you have approached the court without waiting for the other side to have an opportunity to speak or defend. That means that the Respondent will have a hearing within 20 days so that he or she can defend himself, but often the protection is ALREADY IN PLACE and you are protected from that Respondent prior to the hearing. This is so that you do not need to fear retaliation in the interim period of time. Be sure that you know whether the document you receive from the court provides IMMEDIATE protection or not.
If an adult is seeking protection of a child, they should seek a “child protective order,” which is different than an adult protective order. An adult protective order may include a designation of TEMPORARY custody of a child but that is temporary at best. If your child is in danger, get a separate child protective order.
How to file
An applicant for a protective order must file five (5) documents with the district court to get the ball rolling. These documents can be prepared by an attorney or by the applicant using the court’s assistance.
Once the documents are filed, the Judge will review the application for protection. If the court agrees that you are at risk of physical harm, the Judge may sign a temporary (Ex-Parte) protective order. The temporary order will include a hearing date that should occur within the following twenty (20) days. This temporary order will be in effect immediately. You will be protected and if the Respondent violates the protection, there may be criminal penalties.
The Court will then turn the documentation over to the Sheriff’s Office to serve on the Respondent. Proof of service must be provided to the court before a hearing can go forward. If the Respondent is not served, then the hearing will be continued and the temporary order will be extended. When the Respondent is served the Protective Order, he or she is told that that the protection is in place and that they are not to contact you. An “emergency packet” will be given to the applicant in case there is an emergency prior to service of the protective order. This packet should be turned over to the local police department for immediate assistance.
The temporary order can entitle the applicant to temporary possession of children and dictate parent time, personal and real property, can prevent the shutting off of utilities or services, and can prevent any and all contact.
**The Applicant should keep a certified copy of the order on his or her person at all times. It is best to have multiple copies in your car, at home, and at work.**
What to Expect at the Hearing
Be prepared. Have affidavits from witnesses who have actually observed past abuse or were present when Respondent threatened you. If possible, have the dates of past physical harm or threats. Be able to articulate to the court WHY you are in fear of harm. While the rules of evidence are somewhat relaxed in protective order hearings and the hearing is not a full blown trial, SOME courts may require that you take the witness stand and tell the court your history and why you are in danger. Whether you are put on the stand or not, either way you are under oath to present the court with the truth. Even if you have an attorney, you should prepare a written statement of the history of abuse, the current threat of danger, and also let the court know why you have come to the court for relief NOW. Sometimes the court is suspicious if there is a history of abuse that has never resulted in a phone call to police or otherwise be witnessed- be prepared to explain all aspects of your history with Respondent so that the judge is clear.
After the court accepts argument and testimony, the judge will either deny the request for protection (canceling the Ex Parte Order) or the Judge will enter an order granting protection.
There are civil and criminal parts to the court’s order. Law enforcement should enforce the criminal portions, but may not choose to enforce the civil portions. In that case, you would have to bring a civil contempt action for those civil violations.
Appealing, Amending and Changing the Protective Order
If a party wishes to appeal the Court’s order or denial of an order, he or she can do so.
If your protective order hearing was before a Court Commissioner, then an objection must be filed within ten (10) days of entry of the commissioner’s order (which is usually issued directly from the bench at the hearing). Then an evidentiary hearing will be scheduled before the presiding Judge in that court.
If a Judge enters the initial order, then a standard appeal to the Utah Court of Appeals must be made within thirty (30) days.
The civil portions of the protective order are only good for 150 days (unless the court’s states otherwise), after which they are unenforceable so that any other existing orders regarding property or children take effect. In other words, if you need issues of custody, property, money, or other divorce-type issues to be dealt with, you should do so as soon as possible through your divorce action as a Protective Order will not last long on these issues and is only intended to deal with emergency situations.
The criminal provisions will last two years. After two years the Respondent may file a request that the order be dismissed, and you would have an opportunity to respond if you felt that the situation was still dangerous. The protected party may request that the Court amend the current order or may request dismissal at any time.
A protected party should always contact their local law enforcement agency to report any violation of the protective order. While Protective Orders are not mutual and you may not be restricted from contacting or seeing Respondent, do not muddy the waters. If the Respondent has been ordered to stay away from you or not contact you, you are only hurting your own case if you contact or approach the Respondent. The court believes that if you are in fear, you will stay away completely.
Protective orders are enforceable in other states under the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution and under Utah’s Uniform Interstate Enforcement of Domestic Violence Protection Orders Act. However, if you are residing in the new state or spending a lot of time there, it is best to “register” the protective order in that state by filing a certified copy of that order in the district court.
If you have additional questions on protective orders, please contact us at 801-746-6000 to schedule a consultation.
I have a protection order that is never enforced. The protection order allows for communication through text or mutual third party regarding parenting and recently after I confronted him about the treatment of our child he decided to tell me he no longer wants contact with me ever again and he didn’t say how I should contact him regarding co-parenting. Which is what a person who was being honest and responsible in their decision would do that right?! Naturally I blow off what he is saying as BS and continue trying to co-parent. He was being verbally abusive on and off and I finally had enough and reported him and he also called in stating I was the one harassing him. The officer gave me my case number and I thanked him. Long story shortened I was charged with harassment because he asked me not to contact him and the report said it was because I was the one initiating the conversations. I was lead to believe that they were looking into charging him and I ended up being charged using the evidence I gave them. I feel so violated. I’m fighting it but still. I didn’t realize I could lose my ability to enforce something that took me years of abuse to obtain because I did not cease co-parenting. We are still texting as co-parents now but, I have a court date coming up. This is beyond male privilege.
Dear Andrea, a family court judge might have a very different perspective than a police officer. Police officers and prosecutors have a different aim- their aim is to make all of you go away and stop bothering them and so they are more inclined to think no communication at all is the best avenue. A family court judge knows that you still need to co-parent and will help set up a framework where neither of you are harassing each other but are still communicating about the child. A family mediator might also be able to help in this regard. I rarely say this because I don’t want my blog to be an advertisement as much as I want it to be a public resource, but you should go to an attorney for help.
If neither party do not show up for the court date after the temporary order, is the protective order still in effect ?
When neither party show up it is likely that the protective order will be dismissed BUT the Judge could decide to continue the hearing and see if the parties and their counsel can get it together. If counsel go and just no clients, I doubt it would be dismissed. In other words, anything can happen. I could imagine a judge being concerned enough with the allegations to not allow a dismissal in some circumstances. The message here is always show up to court even if the other side says they are not going to. It’s just the best thing to do.
Hi im in Utah and my ex-wife is in Washington and we both work in the same industry (horse trainers) the divorce was final 9 months ago i moved out of state to be away from her because she was basically blaming her lack of work and quitting of clients on me so instead of the constant onslaught of slanderous remarks by her and her friends i decided it would just be better to uproot and leave. Things were quiet for a while but then she took some photos off of my face book page without consent and used them for her new website. I noticed and asked her via email if she would simply send me an email asking for the permission to use the photos so i didnt have to file a formal complaint with the web host. No response after 3 attempts so i decided to file a complaint they shut down her site for 10 days she immediatley sent an email asking for consent so i gave it to her,. In return i was served with a temporary protective order. Now my question is this, since i cannot afford the airfare to fly to Wa. for the hearing to fight this ridiculous accusation of domestic violence which all of her allegations are false and unwarranted i am pretty much under the assumption that she will then receive the permanent protective order since i cannot attend, since we are both in the same industry and we work half the year at horse shows all over the country if i am at a horse show in Washington on thursday and she has not arrived yet, if she shows up on friday and im already there and set up must i leave the show because she pulled out a piece of paper and started pointing at the gate for me to leave or do i have the right to stay since i was there first?
HELP!!! Im young an still at that age where my parents still tell me and make me do things, I got a TEMP protective order on my husband my attorny wont take it off, my question is will it end after the 150 days are over? and will I be able to go back to my husband?
I currently have a Protective order that includes harrassment, cyber stalking. All of which continue through him adding 3rd party applications to my phone with his email addresses or phone numbers. He has installed parent controls and keylogging software that I have been unable to get removed. I have provided the informaion to the police for some type of enforcement to have it stop. It continues and he is still tracking my every move. What other options do I have stop this behavior?
Hi I am wanting to know how I can get a restraining harassment order in salt lake city UT. I don’t care what it cost. I have had my ex inlaws pull me into court once on a protective order gotten wrongfully. Now they are trying to serve me again. I haven’t done anything other then ask my ex father inlaw to not return to my home for a third time and now I have officers trying to serve me. I know a protective order does some crazy things to a person and I don’t want to have a protective order put in place for just harassment. what do I do?
Had protective order placed on me over 10 years ago. Is there an expiration date?
I would like to go for custody of my Grandchild. She has been removed from her Mother (more than likely permenatly). He other grandparents were denied customer due to past performance. My son is in prison at this time for a minor crime. The next court date is 1-27 and I will be out of town and have not been able to change my work schedule. I know this could blow my chances but I must keep my job.
Can you help and if so, what would the cost be?
What if the protective order doesn’t state that the petitioner isn’t restricted from contact but the respondant is and there has been some contact because of manipulative circumstances and also stalking, cyber bullying, different channels of contact because I would block the person, and they even keep trying to contact through social media on different apps. And the Initial contact happened when the person was in jail and was served the order in jail? Does that make both parties liable for breaching the order?
Hi Mary, Generally protective orders are not “mutual” meaning that they usually only are an order for one person not to do X,Y, and Z. However, there can be circumstances in which there are protective orders against both parties with each order telling one person what they can and cannot do. You’ll need to carefully read the language of your order to see. If you have a protective order only against you and you’d like one against the other party because they are engaged in the behaviors you outlined in your post, you should go to the court and get a protective order. If you have a protective order against someone and that person is violating it by finding new and different apps, people, and platforms to harass you, you can call the prosecutors’ office or take your evidence to the police so that they can enforce your protective order.
@Andy: Thanks for the input about protective orders in the UK. I would love to find out more about how they deal with threatening behaviors there.
@Derrick, Kim, and Stu: The rules of ethics don’t allow us to provide legal advice without doing a conflict check first. We are not allowed to apply “law” to your “facts.” We would be happy to set up a consultation for you. Generally, if you read the Cohabitant Abuse Act or the Stalking Injunction provisions of Utah Code, you will find that protective orders are NOT automatically mutual and careful reading of your own protective order language will provide the most clear reading of your particular restrictions. Thank you for reading our blog. Let us know if we can assist you further.
Quick question: If the protected party willingly contacts the respondent, and the respondent replies (for example, email or phone call) that would NOT be a violation of the protective order, so long as all other parts of the order are obeyed (no harassment, threats, etc)?
What if the person taking out the protective order is only doing it to get back at the person, then calling them later to ask to get back together. Isn’t that person in violation and shouldn’t that person be arrested for violation of the protective order, After all if they are affraid of this person they took the protective order out on why would you call them and want to see them. HELLO!
Such kind of protective orders should also be introduced in United Kingdom. The best part of this order is that its process is not hectic as compared with other court’s proceeding, secondary a separate office is dealing with such issues.
I think this is only quick and possible solution for domestic violence.
Interesting and informative article.
I have a question about the dismissal process at the end of the two year time-frame for a “permanent” protective order. If the petitioner still feels threatened by the respondent at the end of the two years, will the judge consider an extension to the order even if there has been no violation of the current order during the two year time-frame?