Finding Legal Help
You are not required to hire an attorney, but legal matters can be complicated. Consider talking to an attorney to go over your options. See the Finding Legal Help page for information about free and low cost ways to get legal help.
Como encontrar ayuda legal
Usted no está obligado a contratar un abogado, pero los asuntos legales pueden ser complicados. Considere la posibilidad de hablar con un abogado para hablar de sus opciones. Para información sobre cómo obtener ayuda legal vea nuestra página Como encontrar ayuda legal.
Child Protective Orders
If you are in danger, call: 911
You can also contact the Domestic Violence Hotline. They can help people find emergency housing, medical care, and support and advocacy for you and your children. Call toll-free: 800-897-5465, or visit the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition website.
You might be able to get help with a protective order
This page is about child protective orders. It explains what a child protective order is, how to ask for one, how to respond to a request for one and how to ask to change one. The person asking for the protective order on behalf of the children is the petitioner. The person the protective order would be against is the respondent.
A protective order can order the respondent to:
- Not commit violence against children listed on the order.
- Not contact or communicate with children listed on the order.
- Stay away from the children's home, work, school, or place of worship.
- Comply with restrictions at the respondent's work, school, and place of worship.
- Not possess, have, or buy a firearm or other type of weapon.
If the respondent violates a protective order they can be arrested and charged with a crime.
Utah law allows an adult to ask for a protective order for a child if the child
- is being abused, or is in imminent danger of being abused, or
- has been abused by someone who is not the child's parent, stepparent, guardian, or custodian.
"Abuse" is defined as:
- physical abuse
- sexual abuse
- a sexual offense under Utah Code 76-5b-201 or 204
- human trafficking of a child under Utah Code 76-5-308.5
How a child protective order is issued
Step 1 – Report abuse to the Division of Child and Family Services
Any interested adult can ask for a protective order on behalf of a minor who is under 18 years old.
A minor who is 16 or older can ask the district court for a protective order for themselves using the forms on the adult protective order web page. A 16 or 17 year old cannot request an adult protective order against their parent, step-parent, adoptive parent, or any minor siblings.
Before asking the court for a child protective order, the petitioner must first report the abuse to the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) online or over the phone at 855-323-3237. The court will not consider the petition if the abuse has not been reported to DCFS. Utah Code Section 78B-7-202.
Step 2 – Petitioner fills out the required forms and files them with the court
The petitioner fills out the required forms:
- Verified Petition for Protective Order on Behalf of Children (and Service Assistance Form)
- Ex Parte Protective Order on Behalf of Children
- Protective Order on Behalf of Children
Forms are in the Forms section.
A petition for a child protective order is filed in juvenile court. The papers to start a protective order case can be filed in person, by email, or by mail. The court's directory provides contact information for all juvenile courts in Utah.
Step 3 – The court reviews the request
When a Request for Protective Order is filed, a judge will usually review the request the same day. The judge will either:
Grant the request
The judge will sign a temporary Ex Parte Protective Order on Behalf of Children and schedule a hearing within 20 days. Usually the temporary protective order only lasts until the hearing. The sheriff or constable will serve a copy of the order on the respondent if they are in Utah. If the respondent is outside of Utah, the petitioner must contact a sheriff or constable in the state where respondent lives to arrange for service. The order becomes effective once it is served on the respondent.
Deny the request
If the court decides not to issue a temporary order, the petitioner can request a hearing in order to present evidence to the judge to try to convince them that a protective order should be issued.
To request a hearing, the petitioner must file a Request for and Notice of Hearing on Denied Ex Parte Child Protective Order form with the court within 20 days. The court will send notice of the hearing and the petition to the respondent. There will be no temporary protective order in place during this time.
Step 4 – The petitioner and respondent go to the hearing
If the court grants a temporary Ex Parte Protective Order on Behalf of Children it will schedule a hearing within 20 days. The date and time for the hearing will be written on the ex parte order.
The hearing is to give both parties a chance to present any evidence and argument about why the court should or should not issue a final protective order. Both parties should bring any evidence and witnesses they have to the hearing. If a party does not attend the hearing, or does not bring their evidence to the hearing, that party will miss their opportunity to present their side of the story and their evidence.
Both the petitioner and respondent should go to the hearing.
- If the respondent does not come to the hearing, the court may grant the protective order without any input from the respondent.
- If the petitioner does not come to the hearing, the court will dismiss the temporary protective order.
- If the respondent has not been served with a copy of the temporary protective order before the hearing, the petitioner can still attend the hearing and request an extension of the temporary protective order, or the case will be dismissed.
The court may extend the 20 day period for a temporary order only if a party swears they are not able to be present at the hearing for a good reason, the respondent has not been served with the temporary protective order, or if there are exigent (urgent and important) circumstances.
The court may appoint a Guardian ad Litem to represent the best interests of the child.
After listening to both parties, the judge will decide whether to dismiss the temporary protective order or to enter a final Protective Order on Behalf of Children. If the court issues a final protective order, the temporary protective order will remain in place until the final protective order is served on the respondent.
Final Protective Order on Behalf of Children
If the court issues a final Protective Order on Behalf of Children, both parties will get a copy of the order if they are at the hearing. If the respondent is not at the hearing but is in Utah, the sheriff will serve the respondent with a copy of the order. If the respondent is outside of Utah, the petitioner will have to arrange for a sheriff or constable to serve the respondent in the state where the respondent lives.
Enforcing the protective order
A protective order has two parts: criminal and civil. The criminal part of the order includes the personal conduct, no contact, stay away, weapons restriction and property orders. The civil part can include orders on child custody and financial support.
If the respondent violates the criminal parts of the protective order, the petitioner can call 9-1-1 for help. The first violation of a protective order is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine. Subsequent violations are a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. See the criminal penalties web page for more information.
If the respondent violates the civil portions of the order the other party can file a motion to ask the court to enforce the order, and the violating party could be held in contempt of court.
How long the order lasts
Read the order carefully. There are several possible expiration dates for the protective order, depending on the circumstances. The order could expire:
- in 150 days if the respondent is the parent, stepparent, guardian or custodian of the child.
- in less than 150 days.
- in more than 150 days for good cause.
- when the child turns 18.
The expiration date will be marked or written on the protective order.
Transferring a case to district court
A juvenile court judge may decide to transfer the child protective order case to the district court if it finds that:
- the petitioner and respondent are the natural, adoptive or step-parents of the child;
- the district court has a prior order or has a paternity, custody, parent-time or divorce action pending in which the petitioner and respondent are parties; and
- the best interests of the child will be better served in the district court.
Asking to change or dismiss a Protective Order
Either party can ask the court to change ("modify") or dismiss (vacate) a protective order before it expires if there has been substantial and material change in circumstances.
Request to modify
There is no specific form to ask the court to modify a protective order, but a generic motion form is available in the Forms section. The request must be filed with the court and served on the other party. The court will schedule a hearing.
Request to dismiss
A party asking to dismiss a protective order would fill out a Request to Vacate Child Protective Order. The request must be filed with the court, and served on the other party. The court will schedule a hearing. The Request to Vacate Child Protective Order form is available in the Forms section.
Only the court can modify or dismiss a protective order. The parties must continue to follow the protective order unless and until the court changes or dismisses it.
If the petitioner or respondent believes the judge made a legal mistake in denying or granting the protective order, they can file an appeal. See the court's Appeals page for information and forms.
Use OCAP, the Online Court Assistance Program to prepare all the documents needed to ask for a child protective order.
- Verified Petition for Ex Parte Child Protective Order -
(includes Service Assistance Form)
- Ex Parte Protective Order on Behalf of Children - PDF | Word
- Protective Order on Behalf of Children - PDF | Word
Asking for a hearing if a request for an ex parte protective order is denied
Asking to dismiss (vacate) a protective order
- Request to Vacate Child Protective Order - PDF | Word
- Order Vacating Child Protective Order - PDF | Word
Asking to modify a protective order
There are no specific forms; these can be used to make the request
Court use only
- Notice of Denial of Ex Parte Child Protective Order - PDF | Word
- Order to Transfer Child Protective Order to District Court - PDF | Word
- Filing Procedures
- Finding Legal Help
- Free Legal Clinics
- Going to Court
- Making a Domestic Violence or Abuse Safety Plan
- Map of Court Locations
- Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP)
- Utah Code 78B-7-201 et seq. (Child Protective Orders)
- Utah Domestic Violence Coalition
The Utah State Courts mission is to provide the people an open, fair, efficient, and independent system for the advancement of justice under the law.