Who 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.1
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.
1 KRS § 403.720(1), (2), (5)
Can 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?
You can find information about LGBTQIA victims of abuse and what types of barriers they may face on our LGBTQIA Victims page.
Can a minor file for an order?
The law doesn’t specifically say that a minor can or cannot file on his/her own. The law says that a “victim of domestic violence and abuse” can file a petition and there is no specific definition as to whether the victim must be at least 18. If you are a minor who wants to file your own petition without an adult helping you to file, you may want to call your local courthouse to ask if this is possible. The law is clear, however, in saying that any adult (even a non-relative) can file on behalf of a minor who qualifies for an order.1
1 KRS § 403.725(1)
What 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.1 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 Advocates and Shelters 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 Safety Tips page for ways to increase your safety.
1 KRS § 756.030(1)
How 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.
If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.