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Legal Information: Kentucky

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of November 15, 2023

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

There are two types of orders, emergency protective orders and domestic violence orders.

An emergency protective order (EPO) can be issued without prior notice to the abuser (ex parte) if the judge believes there is an immediate and present danger of domestic violence and abuse.1 Generally an EPO lasts for 14 days until your hearing for a domestic violence order.2 If law enforcement is unable to serve the abuser prior to the hearing, the judge can postpone the court date and extend your EPO for another 14 days. The EPO can be extended multiple times over a six-month period while law enforcement attempts service. However, at the end of the six-month period, if the respondent cannot be located to be served, the emergency protective order will be dismissed “without prejudice,” which means you could re-file.3

A domestic violence order (DVO) can only be issued after you have had a full court hearing where you and the abuser both have the opportunity to tell your sides of the story to a judge. If the judge believes that domestic violence or abuse has occurred and may happen again, s/he can issue a DVO.4 You must attend the DVO hearing. If you do not, your EPO may expire and you will have to start the process over. A DVO can last for up to three years. You may also extend your DVO for additional three year-year period(s).5 See How do I change or extend my protective order? for more information on this process.

Note: EPOs and domestic violence orders are not enforceable until they have been served on the abuser or until the abuser has been given oral notice by law enforcement or by the court about the existence of the order and what its terms are.6

1 KRS § 403.730(2)(a)
2 KRS § 403.730(1)(a)
3 KRS § 403.735(2)
4 KRS § 403.740(1)
5 KRS § 403.740(4)
6 KRS § 403.745(1)