Protective Orders

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly one in four women and one in seven men have been victims of intimate partner violence. Domestic violence isn’t just something that happens to “other people;” it can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, or socioeconomic status. People who have experienced domestic abuse can get a Protective Order to prevent further harm.

What is a Protective Order?

A Protective Order is a civil order granted by a judge. Because people seeking Protective Orders often need immediate help, the process may begin with the victim being granted a temporary Protective Order without the alleged perpetrator being present. The court will schedule a hearing of which the alleged abuser must be notified and given the opportunity to attend. A permanent Protective Order may be granted at that hearing.

In intimate partner violence, the most dangerous time for a victim is often when they try to leave the relationship. If you are seeking a divorce or child custody in a case against your abuser, you may need a Protective Order.

The person against whom the Protective Order is entered is called the respondent. Even though a Protective Order is a civil order, if a respondent violates it, they may be subject to criminal penalties, including fines and jail time.

How to Get a Protective Order

There are multiple different types of Protective Orders in Utah, many of which apply to different circumstances. Some of these orders include the cohabitant abuse Protective Order, the dating violence Protective Order, and the sexual violence Protective Order. It can be difficult to know what kind of order you need or qualify for.

If you are in a close relationship with your abuser, you are probably eligible for a cohabitant abuse Protective Order, even if you do not live together. For instance, if you are related by blood or marriage or have a child or unborn child in common, you still qualify for this type of order. If you do share a child with your abuser, you can get protection for them when you file for your Protective Order. You may file for your Protective Order in the Utah county where you live, the county where your abuser lives, or the county in which the abuse took place.

Having to file for a Protective Order can be confusing and intimidating. You can file the necessary forms by mail, by email, or in person, and there is no fee to file a Request for a Protective Order. If you are not sure how to file a Protective Order, a court clerk or domestic violence advocate can help you.

However, if you are getting a divorce or seeking child custody with an attorney’s help, your attorney can help you file a Protective Order and tell you how it is likely to affect your case. Your attorney will also be with you at the hearing for the Protective Order, which can help you feel less nervous and remember what you want to tell the judge.

What Does a Protective Order Do?

A Protective Order orders the respondent to stay away from the person seeking the order (the petitioner). The respondent is also prohibited from threatening or contacting the petitioner or stalking or harassing them. It may also order the respondent to stay away from the petitioner’s family members and certain locations, such as the petitioner’s school, place of worship, or work.

A Protective Order may prohibit the respondent from possessing guns or weapons; threatening or harming pets; or interfering with the petitioner’s phone or utilities. The order may also give the petitioner exclusive use or possession of certain property, such as a vehicle or shared home, but the petitioner cannot sell or transfer the property without court approval.

In addition to all of the above, the Protective Order can provide for child custody and visitation, child support, and division of property and debt. However, these provisions are temporary, so if you need to establish these issues on a permanent basis, you will want to work with an experienced Utah family law attorney.

If You Have Been Accused of Domestic Violence

Because being the respondent in a Protective Order matter can restrict your ability to see and spend time with your children, your access to property, and other rights, you must have experienced representation in cases involving allegations of domestic violence.

While most people seeking a Protective Order do so because they genuinely need protection, there are those who make false allegations in order to gain an advantage in a divorce or custody case. If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, do not assume that your innocence will protect you from a negative outcome. Contact an attorney immediately.

The attorneys of BartonWood are experienced in divorce and family law matters involving domestic abuse and allegations of abuse. We will work with you to protect yourself, your children, and your rights. Contact our Salt Lake City law office or call us at (801)326-8300 to schedule a consultation.