Know the Laws: Kentucky
UPDATED March 13, 2015
Emergency protective orders (EPO) and domestic violence orders (DVO) provide protection from harm by a family member or someone you are in a relationship with.
You can seek court protection from acts of domestic abuse done to you or your minor child by any of the following people:
Note: The definition does NOT include a boyfriend / girlfriend who you do NOT have a child with and have NEVER lived with.*
If you are a minor (under 18) trying to get a protective order against someone in your family, you will need an adult family member to file for an order on your behalf.**
In Kentucky, you may apply for a protection order against a current or former same-sex partner who you have lived with or have legally adopted a child with. However, judges do not always rule consistently in these cases. Please talk to someone at a local domestic violence organization for help determining how a judge is likely to rule on your case. To find help, please click on the KY Where to Find Help page.
* KRS § 403.720(2)
** KRS § 403.725
Maybe. In Kentucky, you can file a protective order against an intimate partner, but only if you lived together or currently live together.*
If you are victim of stalking or harassment, there may be other legal options for you. Assault, stalking, and harassment are against the law. If one of these crimes is being committed against you, you may report it to law enforcement. If charges are pressed against the perpetrator, a judge may be able to order him/her to stay away from you. To find help in your state, please click on the KY Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.
* KRS §§ 403.720, 403.725
An emergency protective order (EPO) can do the following:
In Kentucky, protective orders do not cover:
However, assault, stalking, and harassment are against the law. If one of these crimes is being committed against you, you may report it to law enforcement and/or file a criminal complaint at the district court clerk’s office in the county where the abuse occurred. See Criminal Complaints for more information.
To read the legal definitions of stalking and harassment, go to our KY Statutes page. You can also visit our Staying Safe page for ways to increase your safety.
Protective orders also do not cover many types of emotional or mental abuse. If you're being mentally or emotionally abused, please contact a domestic violence organization in your area. Visit the KY State and Local Programs page under the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.
There is no cost to file for a protective order.
You do not need a lawyer to file for a protective order. However, you may wish to have a lawyer, especially if the abuser has a lawyer. If you can, contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected. If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance on the KY Finding a Lawyer page. Domestic violence organizations in your area also may be able to help you through the legal process and may have lawyer referrals. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the KY State and Local Programs page.