Salt Lake City Child Abuse/Protection Attorney

An Experienced & Dedicated Advocate Protecting the Children of Ogden, Salt Lake, Provo and the rest of Northern Utah

At Spencer Family Law, one of our primary focuses is the wellbeing of children. Unfortunately, not all children are in healthy environments, and some may live in fear of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. The law offers protection for children in these circumstances through several means, including child protective orders, private child welfare petitions, temporary restraining orders, and others. Our attorneys have years of experience handling some of the most difficult and heartbreaking family cases. For creative and thoughtful legal guidance on how to protect your child from abuse or neglect, wherever it comes from, reach out to Spencer Family Law today.

No child should be subjected to abuse, and the law is your next best method of protection. Give us a call at (385) 999-2474 or reach out to us online to discuss your legal options in your child abuse protection case.

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What Constitues Child Abuse in Utah

It is a criminal Class B misdemeanor to cause harm or threaten harm to a child’s health or welfare through neglect or abuse, including:

  • Nonaccidental physical or mental injury
  • Incest
  • Sexual abuse/exploitation
  • Molestation
  • Repeated negligent treatment

If a person has reason to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or observes a child being subjected to circumstances that would reasonably result in abuse, they are required by law to report this behavior to a law enforcement agency or the nearest police officer.

 

Child Protective Orders

An adult can seek legal protection of an abused child under the age of 18 through a Utah Child Protective Order. 

A person can request such a protective order for the child if the child:

  • is being abused or is in imminent danger of being abused; or
  • has been abused by someone who is not the child’s parent, stepparent, guardian, or custodian.

A child protective order can establish several behavioral requirements, such as prohibiting the respondent from:

  • committing further violence against the children listed in the order;
  • contacting or communicating with the children listed in the order;
  • going near the children's home, work, school, or place of worship; and
  • possessing or acquiring a firearm or other type of weapon.

If the respondent does not comply with the above or violates a provision of the order in any way, they may be arrested and charged with a crime.

To obtain a protective order, you will have to fill out a series of forms and attend a hearing with a judge. After submitting the forms, the court will review the application to see whether there are sufficient facts to support the claimed harm, in which case the court will issue an “ex parte” protective order on behalf of the children. This will provide legal protection until the day of the hearing (usually scheduled within 21 days). In the hearing, where both the petitioner and the respondent will present their cases, the judge will decide whether to enter a final protective order. Note that the final protective order will have a criminal component and a civil component: The former addresses provisions regarding personal conduct, no contact, stay-away orders, and weapons restrictions, and the latter addresses orders on child custody and financial support (if applicable).

The duration of a permanent order will depend on the case, but common expiration dates could be:

  • In 150 days if the respondent is the parent, stepparent, guardian, or custodian of the child
  • In less than 150 days
  • In more than 150 days for good cause
  • When the child turns 18 years old

If the case is against the child’s other parent, you will need to get a more permanent custody order or modified order.

 

Private Child Welfare Actions

When a child is being subject to abuse, neglect or dependency, the State of Utah may bring a child welfare case against the parents or guardians of the child to remove the children from the home and place the child with a family member or foster home. When the State won’t act to protect children, private parties can also file a petition in the juvenile court to ask the court to find the child is abuse, neglected, or dependent as a private petition. 

The requirements for a private party to bring a case in juvenile court are the same as when the State does it. That means you have to know how to prosecute a child abuse case. The legal standard to prove abuse or neglect is clear and convincing evidence, which is a much more difficult standard of proof than in a custody case.

Juvenile Court is also less forgiving, as there are no online forms for most of the cases you would bring in juvenile court, unlike custody cases. These cases are very complicated, but can offer relief that cannot be obtained from any other court in the land.

 

Other Emergency Protection

In addition to protective orders and juvenile court cases, if you have a custody or divorce case that has been decided or is pending before a court in Utah, you may be able to get emergency relief if you believe your child is in danger. Certain emergency proceedings, like temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions can be obtained when the facts of the case do not meet the heightened standard of clear and convincing evidence in juvenile court, or where the danger to the child is something other than physical or sexual abuse as with child protective orders.

In order to get emergency relief from the district court in a custody case, you have to be able to prove that absent emergency relief from the court, the child will suffer immediate and irreparable harm. The standard of proof is preponderance of the evidence. Because the court acts so quickly in these cases, it must be shown that the harm is imminent, not at some undefined point in the future. The harm can be emotional abuse, or education or medical neglect, which are very difficult to prove in juvenile court except in the most extreme cases.

There are very specific procedural and pleading requirements to get this kind of relief, and even experienced attorneys struggle to prevail on these claims. We have successfully obtained the vast majority of emergency restraining orders we have applied for because of our attention to detail and careful analysis of cases.

If you have questions about obtaining legal protection for a child who is subject to abuse or neglect, contact our firm immediately for legal support. We will promptly help you petition for a protective order and obtain the legal protection the child needs. The safety and wellbeing of children are our top priority at Spencer Family Law, so you can trust that we will dedicate all our professional experience and legal skill to helping you obtain an appropriate protective order against child abuse.

Call (385) 999-2474 or contact Spencer Family Law online to get started on your protective order petition today.

  • “Friendly and knowledgeable staff oh, great service and reasonable pricing.”

    - Maridee T.
  • “Dan has done an excellent job on my son's case. He really knows the law. I appreciate all he did for us. I would highly recommend him.”

    - Mae D.
  • “Dan is extremely insightful, very responsive and understanding, I am very very happy and confident with him on my case.”

    - A. H.
  • “Dan and his team are caring, diligent, fair, and easy to work with. Thank you for making this process go as smoothly as it possible. ??”

    - Malory P.
  • “Everytime I hired him I got everything I wanted. He responds promptly and will go the extra mile for you.”

    - Tyson
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