Home > divorce, family law general, HELP, law general, paternity/child custody > Protective Orders–How to get one and When

Protective Orders–How to get one and When

*If you are currently in danger of abuse, contact your local domestic violence shelter.  In Cache Valley, Utah, that’s CAPSA.  Staff there are trained in helping victims through the protective order process.  I strongly suggest you use that resource. Y se habla español.*

Beaten Every 9 Seconds

I’ve been thinking for awhile that I needed to get an article up here about the hows and whys of protective orders.  This is in Utah, remember, so it may be a little different outside of Utah, but some of this stuff will still apply to ya’ll who are out of state, so keep reading…

Who should get one:  People who are being honest to God abused, or have a reasonable fear that they are in danger of abuse.  Physical abuse is what we’re looking for here.  If the abuser is throwing stuff at you, or breaking stuff, or abusing or threatening to abuse your pet, that would give you a reasonable fear that you are in danger of being physically assaulted.  I put that stuff in bold up there at the beginning of this paragraph because this is IMPORTANT.  DO NOT USE A PROTECTIVE ORDER TO LEVERAGE A CUSTODY AWARD OR TO CONTROL ANOTHER PERSON.  The misuse of protective orders is what takes away the value and force of one.  You cry wolf on this, and you screw it up for every other person who needs to be protected from abuse.  So DON’T.

Sexual abuse IS domestic abuse.  You CAN be sexually abused in a marriage.  Being coerced (verbally abused, harassed, threatened, etc.) to do things sexually that you don’t want to do, or being physically forced to engage in a sex act even if you are married is still rape; it’s still abuse.

Men as Victim

Men are also victims of domestic abuse…Not just women.

You don’t have to be married to get a protective order.  You don’t have to be in an intimate relationship to get one…The statute is a “cohabitant abuse” statute. If you have a roommate who’s abusive, you can get a protective order.

Also–if you are in a dating relationship with an individual who is abusive, and you feel that a protective order is the only way to stay safe and away from him or her, there is a dating relationship protective order.

The links in the paragraphs above will take you to the statutes that are the law regarding protective orders.  How Bad Get Help

HOW TO GET ONE:

Utah’s state courts website has a link on its homepage called “Protection from abuse”.  That’s the link to the page on the site…Or you can just click here.  That page has all of the forms you will need, as well as some basic instructions.  If you don’t have access to a printer or can’t download them for whatever reason, you can also get the forms from the court clerk.  Clerks are required to provide clerical assistance in filling out the forms–but not legal assistance.  They will, however, give you information on where you can get free legal info.

Fill out the forms as completely as possible.  Be detailed in describing the abuse!  I know it can be humiliating, embarrassing, demoralizing…But the court needs to be able to see exactly WHY it should give you a protective order.  DO NOT LIE.  If you haven’t been touched, but the abuser has thrown things, etc., say that.  That shows the court that  you have a reasonable fear of the abuser.

Protective Order

If you need one, seriously consider getting one.

Once you fill out the paperwork, give it to the court clerk.  The court/judge will sign an ex parte protective order if they feel that you have substantial basis to have a protective order granted.  The ex parte order is the temporary, until-a-hearing-can-be-held order.  The clerk will have the sheriff’s office serve the abuser/Respondent with the order.  It will also have a hearing date on it.  A hearing MUST be held within 2 weeks of the ex parte order being put into place.

The point of the hearing is to give the Respondent/alleged abuser an opportunity to be heard–he may not think he/she’s done anything wrong.  If the court still thinks you have reason to need a protective order, they will enter a permanent protective order.  Those stay in place for 2 years unless YOU, the Petitioner, request that it be dismissed, and can give the court good reasons you don’t need to be protected anymore.

So what if the court DOESN’T think you have a good reason to need a protective order at the start?  What if they DON’T give you an ex parte protective order?  You can still request a hearing.  HOWEVER, if you are not safe where you are with the abuser/Respondent, wait until you are before you ask for one.  The Respondent will still have to be served, and if you don’t have an ex parte protective order at that point, you may be in a bit of a dangerous position.

Stop being a victimThe court doesn’t always follow the law.  Some judges have different views on what constitutes abuse.  I had a client who had been repeatedly sexually abused by her husband.  She requested a protective order based on very detailed descriptions of the abuse.  The judge denied her request.  Why?  He handwrote this on the denial:  “Sexual contact in marriage, no matter how uncomfortable or unwanted, is not domestic abuse.”  The judge was WRONG.  Dead wrong.  My client was not in a position to request a hearing and have her husband served with it, however…So she just had to do her best to protect herself.

The system is NOT perfect.  BUT, a protective order can be part of a paper trail evidencing abuse if you need it for other legal reasons–like to get protective provisions in a divorce.  That said, you are the only one who knows what your circumstances are.  If you can’t get a protective order put in place and feel that it prevents abuse, don’t do it.  But please DO get out, get help, and stay safe.  You Are Worth It.

 

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