What Is A Child Protective Order In Utah?

Similar to an adult protective order, it is a court order that has both civil and criminal provisions, usually restraining somebody from having contact with the child if they are not a parent or from having unsupervised contact (or in some way limiting the contact between a child and the respondent if the respondent is a parent). It is a creature of statute, meaning that there is no common law right to a protective order, either adult or child protective order. The scope and limits of what you can obtain with a child protective order is set forth in the statutes.

How Do Child Protective Orders Differ From Adult Protective Orders?

There are a couple of ways that protective orders differ from child to adult. First, obviously they are protecting a child instead of an adult. With an adult protective order, the person who files the protective order must be the adult who wants the protection. You cannot file an adult protective order on behalf of someone else. With the child protective order, any “interested person,” who is almost anybody that has some legitimate connection with the child, may file a petition on behalf of a child. A court can place a protective order for a child case, but it is more limited.

An adult protective order has more expansive additional relief that you can request. For example, return of property, and child support to name a few. Another important difference between an adult protective order and a child is the grounds upon which a protective order can be granted. We have discussed above the grounds for obtaining an adult protective order that surrounds domestic violence. In order to obtain an adult protective order, there are numerous ways of demonstrating some kind of domestic violence to obtain an adult protective order. But in a child protective order in the state of Utah, you have to show that the child has been abused or are at imminent risk of being in danger.

The term “Abuse” in the child protective order statute is defined very narrowly. In other places in the code and in case law, child abuse can be defined much more expansively, but under the definitions of the child protective order statute, it is defined as physical abuse, sexual abuse or imminent risk thereof.

The definition allows for a bit of leg room to expand it more slightly broadly than physical or sexual abuse, but not much. Occasionally, a court may define imminent risk of physical or sexual abuse to include failure to protect by somebody who should be protecting the child, usually a parent or a grandparent. For example, suppose that there is a parent who is married to a pedophile, or a parent is married or cohabiting with somebody who is abusing the child. Even though the parent themselves are not the ones perpetrating on the child physically or sexually, if they have a knowledge that it is likely to occur, and yet they still continue to expose the child to that environment, then a child protective order can also enter against the parent who is failing to protect. This is an extreme example, but it illustrates the point, the failure to protect on occasion if it is very clear that the respondent in the protective order is knowingly putting the child in a situation where they are likely to suffer physical, sexual abuse or extreme emotional harm to the point where it is going to stunt them developmentally. Then a child protective order could be entered against them.

How Common Is It For The Court To Deny A Child Protective Order?

It is not uncommon that the party requesting a child protective order does not really know how to go about it. For example if a parent is concerned that the other parent has a drug habit, they can file a child protective order because the other parent is addicted to drugs and could cause harm to the child. Very often the court will deny even the initial temporary protective order because it fails to meet the narrow definition of abuse under the statute, which essentially is physical or sexual abuse, and imminent risk thereof.

There is alienation, emotional abuse, and many other types of abuses that are not covered in the definition of abuse under the statute in our state. So the court will often deny a temporary protective order under those circumstances. If a child protective order is denied at the ex parte or temporary level, upon request of the petitioner, a hearing can be granted on that denial within twenty days after the denial.

The hearing will occur within twenty days of the denial upon request of the petitioner. I rarely have seen that happen, usually it is denied, because it fails to meet the definition of abuse. That is the most common scenario, and once the petitioner realize the problem, they will usually seek other avenues for relief.

For more information on Child Protective Order In Utah, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 616-3301 today.

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*Child Welfare Law Specialist Nat’l Assoc. of Counsel for Children