What Specifics Does A Child Protective Order Generally Include?

A child protective order generally says whatever the court orders. But there is this statute 78B-7-204 that indicates what the court is allowed to order. It is considered a Class A misdemeanor to violate the protective order. The protective order may prohibit the respondent from threatening to commit or committing abuse of the minor child. They prohibit the respondent from harassing, telephoning, contacting or communicating with the minor directly or indirectly. They prohibit the respondent from entering or remaining upon the resident school or place of employment with the minor and the premises of any specified place. That is any place that was specified in the petition as being frequented by the child.

If the court finds that the use or a possession of a weapon poses the threat, then they can be prohibited from purchasing, using or possessing a firearm or any other specified type of weapon. The order can demand certain items of personal property of the child to be provided to the petitioner for the benefit of the child. It can determine on a temporary basis, custody, visitation, and determine child support. That is the extent of what a child protective order is allowed to do.

What If Someone Violates A Protective Order Thinking That It Is In The Best Interests Of A Child?

Suppose you have a child with your ex-spouse and now you are remarried and your ex-spouse believes that your new spouse has physically or sexually abused your child. They file a child protective order against your new spouse. What are you required to do? First of all, the child protective order restrains the respondent only, not other people. In other words, under those circumstances, you (as the spouse) are not under the jurisdiction of the court and are not ordered to do anything.

You cannot be arrested or charged with a crime for failure to comply with the child protective order if you are not the respondent in that protective order. That said it would be a poor decision not to comply with the terms of the child protective order (e.g. allow your spouse knowingly to violate the child protective order). Doing so may generate grounds for your ex-spouse to start filing motions in the custody case describing how you, despite knowing that there was a child protective order in place, allowed contact between the child and the respondent in the child protective order, thereby giving rise to an argument that you are failing to protect the child from potential harm from your new spouse.

If you fail to adhere to it yourself, you are opening the door to further litigation against you. Also your spouse in that situation would likely be criminally liable and could possibly be arrested. The best thing to do is to encourage your spouse to comply with the child protective order until the hearing is resolved in a way that the restrictions caused by it are reduced or eliminated prudently.

How Can I Remedy The Situation If There Is A Protective Order Against Me?

If you are served with a petition and a temporary protective order, obviously the best thing to do is hire an attorney who is experienced in handling child protective orders to defend you so the protective order does not become permanent. If it does become permanent, typically it is interpreted to last up to one-hundred and fifty days. Interestingly, the statutory form of the child protective order makes it seem like it is going to be longer than that. But the courts often interpret it to mean that it is going to expire in one-hundred and fifty days.

The child protective order though is supposed to include a statement about when the order expires, so it is really up to the judge to determine when it expires. If one spouse is filing a child protective order against the other parent, then the court will often have it expire either A) as soon as the issue can be heard in the custody court and district court; or B) within one-hundred and fifty days whichever occurs first. But the court does not have to do that. The court can extend it until the child’s eighteenth birthday if it wishes. For example, the respondent in a child protective order is, say, a sex offender that really has no interest in ever seeing the child again, the court will likely extend the protective order to the child’s eighteenth birthday, because the person has no interest in seeing the child ever again. However, if the respondent is a close relative or a parent, the court might have the child protective order expire sooner.

If you are the respondent in a protective order matter, hire an attorney, and defend yourself as vigorously as possible. That may require negotiation. For example, if the allegations against you is true and the other side has excellent evidence that they are true, then sometimes the best negotiating tactic is to submit voluntarily to the child protective order in exchange for concessions regarding how and when it will be removed. For example, if you agree to get into treatment/therapy and successfully complete it, at that point, it can be dismissed. However, if the allegations are false, then obtaining an attorney and vigorously defending yourself against it is the best plan of action.

How does one defend themselves in a protective order matter? If the allegations are false, the answer is usually to make use of the rules of evidence, forcing the other side to actually meet their burden of proof. They must show up with their witnesses that are going to testify on their behalf, and objecting to evidence that is inadmissible. Assuming the allegations are false, then the great likelihood is that the other side will be unable to meet their burden of proof if the respondent is defended by competent counsel.

For more information on Specifics Of A Child Protective Order, 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