The Utah Cohabitant Abuse Act is the statute in Utah which enables any adult or child residing with another party who has been subjected to or is likely to be subjected to domestic violence or abuse, to seek a protective order. An individual can file for a protective order regardless if a divorce is filed, criminal charges are filed, or the parties are still residing in the same residence. Many protective orders are filed every day throughout the state of Utah, it is one of the most common actions heard by the court. When a person files for a protective order, the court can issue an ex parte temporary order and the burden for obtaining such an order is very low. An ex parte temporary protective order is an order for protection that becomes immediately enforceable even before the other party has a chance to respond. This often means another person is removed from the home and restricted in other means all before they even have a chance to defend them self in court.
Definition of Abuse and Domestic Violence
The key to obtaining or defending a protective order in Utah is to understand what the legal definitions of “abuse” and “domestic violence” are under the Utah Cohabitant Abuse Act. Abuse, for purposes of a protective order is generally defined as intentionally or knowingly causing or attempting to cause a cohabitant physical harm or intentionally or knowingly placing a cohabitant in reasonable fear of imminent physical harm. Thus, under this definition, a person would not necessarily have to have been physically harmed in order to seek court protection, reasonable fear of imminent physical harm would be enough to meet the initial burden. Domestic violence under the statute means 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, when committed by one cohabitant against another. Domestic Violence could also mean committing or attempting to commit any violent crime.
Definition of Cohabitation
Another important thing to consider in seeking or fighting a protective order is to understand what cohabitation means under the law. While it may seem somewhat clear at first, the definition of cohabitation can become a little bit grey under certain circumstances. Living in the same residence is cohabitation. Whether it is a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife, living under the same roof is the general definition. You don’t even have to have been involved in a relationship; roommates for instance may not be romantically involved but are living together and thus qualify under the statute. The Utah Cohabitant Abuse Statute specifically sets forth the following specific relationships that meet the cohabitation requirement:
- is or was a spouse of the other party;
- is or was living as if a spouse of the other party;
- related by blood or marriage;
- one or more children in common;
- biological parent;
- resides or resided together.
Hearings on Protective Orders
After the court issues an ex parte protective order, the court will set a hearing which shall be held within 20 days from the date the temporary protective order is granted. If you have been served with a protective order you will get your day in court. Depending on the county in which you live, the protective order hearing will be held before a commissioner or as an evidentiary hearing before the judge. Whether you have been served with a protective order or you are seeking a protective order, you should have an attorney represent you at the hearing. To get help now, call and speak to a Utah Protective Order Attorney at Salcido Law Firm right away.