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Domestic Violence and Family Law in Kentucky

If you are in danger from domestic violence . . .

Call 911

Then call your local domestic violence hotline or the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-SAFE

Your computer use can be monitored and it is difficult to hide.  If you are in danger and are investigating your options in a domestic violence situation, please use a friend's computer, your work computer or one at the library, etc.

Domestic violence is a blight on modern society.  There is never an excuse for violence, particularly among family members and especially in the presence of children.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, we urge you to immediately seek help from local victims' assistance organizations.

If you are presently in genuine risk of injury through domestic violence, call 911 immediately and report the abuse!

An EPO (Emergency Protective Order) is available to any Kentucky resident who seeks temporary protection from the Court if there is sufficient proof of domestic violence having been perpetrated.

If granted, an EPO is good for up to 14 days.  During that two-week period, a hearing must be held and, if the Court is convinced there is sufficient evidence of domestic violence having taken place, a DVO (Domestic Violence Order) may be entered and in effect for up to three years.  Upon request, DVOs can be renewed by the Court in the future for periods of up to three years each.

 How can an EPO protect me?

First and foremost, EPOs are not bullet-proof!  You still have to take steps to protect yourself from your abuser.  This may include going to stay with friends or family, going to a domestic violence shelter, alerting friends and family or co-workers about the potential for danger, keeping your cell phone on you at all times and being ready to report any contact from your abuser whatsoever to the Police -- even contact through third parties and in person, electronic or otherwise.

Do not telephone, message, email, text or have any other contact whatsoever with your abuser!  Do not allow yourself to be in situations where your abuser is likely to confront you.  Do not accept gifts from your abuser.  Do not allow yourself to be alone with your abuser under any circumstances.  Be prepared at all times to report any EPO violations of any description to the Police.

An EPO or DVO can empower law enforcement officers to arrest your abuser if he/she violates the Order.  This is the real "power" of an Emergency Protective Order.

EPOs and DVOs limit or restrain the other party from doing many things:

  1. Committing further acts of domestic violence and abuse;

  2. Any unauthorized contact or communication with the petitioner or other person specified by the court;

  3. Approaching the petitioner or other person specified by the court within a distance specified in the order, not to exceed five hundred (500) feet;

  4. Going to or within a specified distance of a specifically described residence, school, or place of employment or area where such a place is located; and

  5. Disposing of or damaging any of the property of the parties.

See KRS 403.740 for more details on Emergency Protective Orders.

The Court can order the abusive party to vacate his or her residence which has been shared by the parties and well as granting temporary custody, establishing temporary child support.

The Court may choose to also take action to prevent or eliminate future acts of domestic violence and abuse and may order the parties to obtain counseling services as well as "domestic violence classes".

The abuser is usually ordered by the Court in the DVO to surrender to the County Sheriff any firearms which he/she possesses.

Further, under KRS 237.110, the entry of a Domestic Violence Order also suspends the abuser's Kentucky license to carry a concealed deadly weapon.

In the past, the protections of an EPO or the more permanent DVO were only available to couples (a) who were married, (b) who were cohabitating or (c) who had a child in common.

In January 2016, the new INTERPERSONAL PROTECTIVE ORDER (IPO) became available in Kentucky to people who don't qualify for EPO/DVO protections.  This includes:

  • Victims of dating violence and abuse
  • Victims of stalking
  • Victims of sexual assault and
  • Adults acting on behalf of victims who are minors otherwise qualifying for relief under KRS 403.030. 

The process and effect of an Interpersonal Protective Order (IPO) is very similar to that of an Emergency Protective Order (EPO).  Either of them are good for up to 14 days, during which period the Court must hold a hearing on the matter and a long-term Order (DVO) is entered controlling the interactions of the parties for up to three years.



Courier-Journal article from April 2016 on "dating restraining orders"

KRS 403.030 - Interpersonal Protective Orders

How to Obtain a Protective Order
(published by the Administrative Office of the Courts)

Use of New Interpersonal Protective Orders in Cases of
Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking

(published by the University of Kentucky as a Resource Document for Grades K-12)

Other important resources:

Note: In the discussions on this website about domestic violence, the term "she" is sometimes used when referring to a victim of domestic violence. The fact is that women are the target of at least 85% of all domestic violence.  This is NOT to say, however, that men are never the victims of domestic violence, that all men are abusive, that women are not or cannot be abusive or that domestic violence cannot or does not occur in same-sex relationships.  Domestic violence regularly crosses all gender, race or other socio-economic divisions.