Who can get a protective order?
You can file for an order due to acts of domestic violence and abuse committed against you or your minor child by any of the following people, which the law refers to as family members or members of an unmarried couple:
- your current or former spouse;
- your parent or step-parent;
- your adult sibling;
- your child or step-child;
- your grandparent or grandchild;
- a boyfriend / girlfriend with whom you currently or formerly live(d) “as a couple;” or
- a boyfriend / girlfriend with whom you have a child.1
If the victim is a child, s/he can file against any person living in the same household regardless of their relationship.2
Note: The definition of “member of an unmarried couple” does not include a boyfriend / girlfriend with whom you do not have a child and with whom you have never lived.3 However, an interpersonal protective order does cover those types of dating relationships.
1 KRS § 403.720(2), (3), (6)
2 KRS § 403.720(3)
3 KRS § 403.720(6)
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 says that an adult can file on behalf of a minor victim.1 The law is silent on whether the adult has to be the child’s parent or guardian. The law also doesn’t specifically say that a minor cannot file on his/her own. If you are a minor who wants to file your own petition without an adult helping you or if you want an adult to file for you who is not your parent or guardian, you may want to call your local courthouse to ask if this is possible.
1 KRS § 403.725(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.