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Know the Laws: Kentucky

UPDATED September 21, 2017

Protective Orders / Domestic Violence Orders

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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.

Who can get a protective order / domestic violence order

back to topWho can get a protective order?

You can seek court protection from acts of domestic violence and abuse done to you or your minor child by any of the following people:

  • your current or former spouse;
  • your parent or step-parent;
  • your child or step-child;
  • your grandparent or grandchild;
  • a boyfriend / girlfriend with whom you currently or formerly live(d) "as a couple;"
  • a boyfriend / girlfriend with whom you have a child (regardless of whether you ever lived together); or
  • if the child is the victim, a child can file against any person living in the same household with the child regardless of their relationship or against the parent's boyfriend/girlfriend who lives with the parent or has a child with the parent.*

Note: The definition does not include a boyfriend / girlfriend with whom you do not have a child and with whom you have never lived.  However, an interpersonal protective order does cover those types of dating relationships.

* KRS § 403.720(1),(2),(5)

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back to topCan a minor file for an order?

Yes.  The law says that a "victim of abuse" can file a petition for an order and there is no specific age requirement mentioned in the law.  In addition, another option is that any adult (even a non-relative) can file on behalf of a minor who qualifies for an order.*

* KRS § 403.725(1)

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back to topCan I get a protective order against a same-sex partner?

In Kentucky, you may apply for a protective order against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Who can get a protective order?  You must also be the victim of an act of domestic violence or abuse, which is explained in What is the legal definition of domestic violence in Kentucky?

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back to topWhat can I do if I don't qualify for a protective order?

In 2016, Kentucky passed a new law that provides for an interpersonal protective order for victims of dating violence and abuse, stalking, or sexual assault.*  If you don't qualify for a domestic violence order, you might qualify for an interpersonal protective order. 

Protective orders 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 for support and help.  Visit the KY State and Local Programs page for referrals.

Also, remember that the abuser's actions may be considered a crime that can be report to law enforcement or for which you can file a criminal complaint at the district court clerk’s office in the county where the abuse occurred.  To see a list of common crimes in Kentucky, go to our Crimes page.

You can also visit our Staying Safe page for ways to increase your safety.

* KRS § 756.030(1)

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back to topHow much does it cost to file for a protective order? Do I need a lawyer?

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 represent you at the hearing, especially if the abuser has a lawyer.  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. 

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