Perhaps one of the most abused legal processes is the use of a Protective Order. The law is somewhat explicit about when a Protective Order is warranted, however, courts are inclined to grant requests for Protective Orders almost at the “drop of the hat.” Protective Orders are used to prevent abuse, but the very nature of the proceedings is many times “abusive.” There is, however, some merit to the manner in which Protective Orders are issued; sometimes, it is better to err on the side of caution.
Utah Code 78B-7-103 states:
(1) Any cohabitant who has been subjected to abuse or domestic violence, or to whom there is a substantial likelihood of abuse or domestic violence, may seek an ex parte protective order or a protective order in accordance with this chapter, whether or not that person has left the residence or the premises in an effort to avoid further abuse.” [Emphasis added]
Utah Code 78B-7-102 defines “abuse” 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.” Utah Code 77-36-1 states that “‘Domestic violence’ 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.
So, where are we? Although it can be argued that statutory elements of a Protective Order do not exist in a specific situation, many who oppose a Protective Order are disappointed when the Protective Order is granted and they immediately feel that the “system” is against them. There are penalties for lying in attempting to get a Protective Order, but most attorneys would agree that they have never seen a penalty enforced for lying. As such, men are at a distinct disadvantage when they face the detriments that result from the issuance of a Protective Order.
If you are not already a victim of a request for a Protective Order, the Utah Family Law Attorneys at Jolley & Jolley can help you understand the process and assist you in taking certain actions and preventative measures so that a situation will not occur that would warrant the issuance of a Protective Order.