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Legal Information: Kentucky

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of
November 15, 2023

What is an interpersonal protective order?

An interpersonal protective order is a civil court order that protects you from an abuser if you are a victim of:

If you do not fit into these categories, you can check our Protective Orders / Domestic Violence Orders to see if you qualify for that type of order instead.

1 KRS § 456.030(1)

What is the legal definition of dating violence and abuse, sexual assault, and stalking?

Dating violence and abuse is when someone who you are/were dating commits any of the following: 

  1. physical injury;
  2. serious physical injury;
  3. stalking;
  4. sexual assault; 
  5. strangulation; 
  6. puts you in fear of immediate (imminent) physical injury, serious physical injury, stalking, sexual assault, or strangulation;
  7. commits cruelty to animals in the 1st or 2nd degree;
  8. commits the crime called torturing a dog or cat
  9. commits sexual crimes against an animal; or
  10. makes you fear that the acts listed in numbers 7, 8, and 9 will immediately be committed against a domestic animal with which you have a close bond in order to coerce, control, punish, intimidate you or to get revenge against you.1

Sexual assault means an act of rape, sodomy, incest, or sexual abuse in any degree or a criminal attempt, conspiracy, facilitation, or solicitation to commit any of those crimes.2 The law covers all of the crimes in Chapter 510 of the Penal Code, which you can find on our Selected Kentucky Statutes page. To qualify for an interpersonal protective order, the sexual assault can be committed by a dating partner or a non-dating partner.

Stalking is defined as the actions described in the crimes of stalking in the first degree or stalking in the second degree or a criminal attempt, conspiracy, facilitation, or solicitation to commit either of those crimes.3 To qualify for an interpersonal protective order, the sexual assault can be committed by a dating partner or a non-dating partner.

1 KRS § 456.010(2), (9)
2 KRS § 456.010(7)
3 KRS § 456.010(8)

What types of interpersonal protective orders are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of interpersonal protective orders, temporary and final.

The judge will review your petition for an interpersonal protective order immediately after you file in court.1 If the judge finds that there is an immediate and present danger of dating violence and abuse, sexual assault, or stalking, the judge can issue an ex parte temporary interpersonal protective order.2 The judge will also schedule a hearing for a final interpersonal protective order within 14 days if the judge believes from reading your petition that dating violence and abuse, sexual assault, or stalking has occurred.1

A final interpersonal protective order can only be issued only after the abuser has an opportunity to attend a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to present evidence, witnesses, testimony, etc. If after a hearing, the judge finds that dating violence and abuse, sexual assault, or stalking has occurred, the judge can issue a final interpersonal protective order that can last up to three years.3 The order may also be renewed – see Can an order be extended? for more information.

1 KRS § 456.040(1)(a)
2 KRS § 456.040(2)(a)
3 KRS § 456.060(1), (3)

What protections can I get in an interpersonal protective order?

In a temporary or final interpersonal protective order, the judge can:

  1. order that the abuser not:
    • commit any acts of dating violence and abuse, stalking, or sexual assault;
    • contact you or another person;
    • throw away or damage any of your property or joint property;
    • come within 500 feet of you or another person;
    • come within a specific distance of your home, school, workplace, or other place you go to frequently; and
    • do anything else that the judge believes could put you in danger offuture acts of dating violence and abuse, stalking, or sexual assault;
  2. give you possession of any shared domestic animal;
  3. order that you and/or the abuser receive counseling services available in the community in cases of dating violence and abuse; and
  4. order the following if you you request them:
    • specifically state which communications are allowed and which are not allowed, which could mean limited communication is OK; and
    • allow you and the abuser to be in a common area together under limited circumstances with specific restrictions laid out by the judge.1

1 KRS §§ 456.040(2)(a)(1), (2)(a)(2); 456.060(1)

If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?

When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.

There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:

  1. The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
  2. One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
  3. If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.

However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.

You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.

Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.