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:
- dating violence and abuse; or
- sexual assault or stalking committed by someone whom you may or may not have dated.1
However, if the person who has sexually assaulted or stalked you is a family member or an intimate partner with whom you live(d), have a child, or married, you would file for a protective order based on domestic violence instead. Please see Protective Orders / Domestic Violence Orders for more information.
1 KRS § 456.030(1)
What is the legal definition of dating violence and abuse, sexual assault, and stalking?
Dating violence and abuse means any of the following if the behavior occurs between people who are in or have been in a dating relationship:
- physical injury;
- serious physical injury;
- sexual assault;
- strangulation; or
- putting someone in fear of immediate physical injury, serious physical injury, sexual abuse, strangulation, or sexual assault.1
Sexual assault means an act of rape, sodomy, incest, or sexual abuse in any degree (which you can find on our Selected Kentucky Statutes page, in Chapter 510 of the Penal Code).2 The sexual assault does not have to be committed by someone with whom you are (or have been) in a dating relationship.
Stalking is defined as the actions described in the crimes of stalking in the first degree or stalking in the second degree.3 The stalking does not have to be committed by someone with whom you are (or have been) in a dating relationship.
Strangulation is defined as the actions described in the crimes of strangulation in the first degree or strangulation in the second degree.4 The strangulation does not have to be committed by someone with whom you are (or have been) in a dating relationship.
1 KRS § 456.010(2)
2 KRS § 456.010(6)
3 KRS § 456.010(7)
4 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 interpersonal protective orders
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 (assuming that the judge believes from reading your petition that dating violence and abuse, sexual assault, or stalking has occurred).1
Final interpersonal protective orders
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 order that the abuser not:
- commit any acts of dating violence and abuse, stalking, or sexual assault;
- contact you or any other person identified by the judge;
- throw away or damage any of your property;
- come within 500 feet of you and any other person identified in the order; and/or
- come within a specific distance of your home, school, workplace, or other place you go to frequently. (Note: When asking the judge to restrict the abuser from a place to which you frequently go, the judge will first hear testimony from you and the abuser about the location and only restrict the abuser from areas where there is a specific, definite danger to you or another person protected by the order.)1
The judge can also order any other conditions that s/he believes would prevent future acts of dating violence and abuse, stalking, or sexual assault, but the judge cannot order that you (the petitioner) do any particular actions.2 In dating violence and abuse cases, the judge can order that you and/or the abuser receive counseling services available in the community.3
1 KRS § 456.060(1)(a),(2)(a),(b)
2 KRS § 456.060(1)(b)
3 KRS § 456.060(1)(c)
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.