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Legal Information: Kentucky

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of November 15, 2023

Can the abuser have a gun?

Once you get a protection order, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession.  There are a few places where you can find this information:

  • first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in Kentucky have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
  • second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
  • third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.

You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website

What should I do when I leave the courthouse?

Here are some ideas of what you can do:

  • Make several copies of the order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • Leave copies of the order at your workplace, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them. One week after court, call your local law enforcement offices to make sure they have received copies of the order.
  • Take steps to safety plan, including changing your locks (if permitted by law) and your phone number.

Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order.  People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school.  Many abusers obey protective orders, but some do not.  It is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  Click on Safety Planning for suggestions.  Advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support; see KY Advocates and Shelters.

I was not granted a protective order. What are my options?

If you are not granted a protective order, there are still some things you can do to stay safe. It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence programs in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you develop a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need. For safety planning help, ideas, and information, go to our Safety Planning. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit our KY Advocates and Shelters page.

You may be able to reapply for a protective order if a new incident of domestic abuse occurs after you are denied the order.

If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk to a lawyer about the possibility of an appeal. Generally, appeals are complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer. For basic information on appeals, see our Filing an Appeal page.

If you were not granted a protective order because your relationship with the abuser does not qualify, you may qualify for an interpersonal protective order.

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

If the abuser intentionally violates your order, it can be considered contempt of court and a criminal offense, which is a Class A misdemeanor.1

To report the violation to law enforcement, you can call 911 immediately or you can file a criminal complaint. In some cases, the abuser can be arrested right away and prosecuted for a crime. Tell the officers you have a DVO and the respondent is violating it. If found guilty of a violation of a DVO, the abuser can be fined or put in jail. It is often a good idea to write down the name of the responding officers and their badge numbers in case you want to follow up on your case.

Another way to address the violation of a domestic violence order is to go back to the court that issued the order to file a “show cause” motion for contempt.2 A judge will then review the complaint or affidavit and decide what action to take.

Note: You can either pursue a civil proceeding or a criminal proceedings for the violation - you cannot pursue both. Once either proceeding has been filed, the other cannot be pursued, regardless of the outcome of the first proceeding.3

For more information about contempt, including the difference between criminal contempt and civil contempt, go to our general Domestic Violence Restraining Orders page.

1 KRS § 403.763(1), (4)
2 KRS § 403.763(2)(a)
3 KRS § 403.763(1)

How do I change or extend my protective order?

Extending your order
When your DVO is expiring, you can apply to extend it for an additional period of up to three years. There is no limit on the number of times an order may be reissued (extended). There does not need to be a new act of domestic violence for the order to be reissued.1 However, if there has been no further abuse or contact, you may want to be prepared to explain to the judge why you are still in danger of further abuse – for example, based on the history of abuse, gun ownership, etc.

Changing your order
Either you or the abuser can file a motion to change (amend) a domestic violence order.2 After a hearing, the judge will decide whether or not to grant the amendment requested.

Note: After a final DVO is issued, it’s possible to file a motion to amend it to request that the abuser wear a GPS device. The judge can grant your request if the abuser has committed a serious violation of a prior domestic violence order and if the judge believes that the GPS device would increase your safety.3

1 KRS § 403.740(4)
2 KRS § 403.745(5)
3 KRS § 403.761(1)

What happens to my order if I move?

If you move within Kentucky or to another state, your protective order will still be valid and good.  Federal law provides what is called “full faith and credit,” which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. territories and tribal lands.  You can read more on our Moving to Another State with a Kentucky Domestic Violence Order (DVO) page.

If you are moving to a new state, you may want to call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2) for information on enforcing your order in another state.

If I get a protection order, will it show up in an internet search?

According to federal law, which applies to all states, territories, and tribal lands, the courts are not supposed to make available publicly on the internet any information that would be likely to reveal your identity or location. This applies to all of these documents:

  • the petition you file;
  • the protection order, restraining order, or injunction that was issued by the court; or
  • the registration of an order in a different state.1

1 18 USC § 2265(d)(3)