When a relationship goes bad, it can go really bad. Whether the relationship is short- or long-term, whether the parties are single, married or divorced, violence may erupt if one or both parties can’t control their emotions. Protective orders are issued by judges in Kentucky when it appears that domestic violence has happened (or may in the future), and the order is a way to keep the parties apart.
If a relationship has gone sour, especially if the couple has children, there are a number of ways the legal system can get involved. Divorce, child custody and support issues can arise. One party may file a complaint with the police claiming threats or physical violence and charges may or may not be filed.
Protective orders are somewhere in between: they’re legal orders that involve threat, stalking, assault or violence, but the situation is not handled by the criminal justice system unless an existing order is violated.
What a Kentucky protective order can do
A protective order is a court order signed by a judge. The goal is to prevent acts of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking. A party claiming to be experiencing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking (the petitioner) can seek this order and a judge can, through the order, mandate the person accused of abuse (the respondent) to do the following:
- Cease contact with the petitioner, his or her children, or others who might need protection, either in person, by phone, text, email, social media or through friends or family
- Avoid the petitioner’s home, school, workplace or other places where the petitioner may likely be
- Stop abusing, threatening, stalking, or assaulting the petitioner
- Leave a shared home,
- If the two have children in common, give the respondent temporary custody, create a visitation schedule, or order the respondent pay child support.
Who can seek a Kentucky protective order and how
There are two different types of long term protective orders in Kentucky: Domestic Violence Orders (DVO) and Interpersonal Protective Orders (IPO). Those who can seek a DVO include:
- Family members (spouses, ex-spouses, parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren)
- Members of an unmarried couple (those who have lived together as a couple or who have a child together).
Those who can file for an IPO are:
- Those who are now in, or who have been in, a dating relationship,
- Who claim to have been sexually assaulted, and
- Who claim to have been stalked.
A petitioner must file with the Circuit Court Clerk’s office in the county where he or she lives or where he or she is now living to escape the situation and show that:
- He or she was physically injured, assaulted, sexually assaulted or stalked by the respondent, or
- The respondent placed the petitioner in a reasonable fear that he or she was about to be physically injured, assaulted, sexually assaulted or stalked.
If it’s an emergency situation after hours, a petitioner can contact the local police or domestic violence program for advice. These orders are potentially available 24 hours a day, every day.
The petitioner fills out a form (the petition) and explains the situation and the nature of the relationship they have with the respondent. This will be reviewed by a judge who decides whether or not to schedule a court hearing and whether or not to issue a temporary order intended protect the petitioner before a hearing takes place.
A temporary protective order can be an Emergency Protective Orders (EPO) or Temporary Interpersonal Protective Orders (TIPO). The petitioner is told of the date of the hearing (normally within two weeks’ time) and law enforcement will try to serve the paperwork on the respondent. If an EPO or TIPO is issued and the respondent has been served with it but violates the order before the hearing, he or she may be arrested if the police are contacted.
At the hearing, both parties have an opportunity to tell their side of the story. Witnesses and evidence, including medical records or police reports, can be used to show that the alleged abuse happened. Phone call logs, texts, emails or screen shots of social media posts could show that, despite an order to stop, the respondent continued to contact the petitioner. If he or she can show abuse occurred and may occur again, the judge will probably issue a long-term order, a DVO or an IPO, which could last for up to three years.
These long-term orders do what temporary orders do (state that the respondent can’t contact or hurt the petitioner and decide custody and visitation if children are involved), just for a longer period of time. The order may also include a requirement that the petitioner attend domestic violence or dating violence counseling.
Petitioners and respondents can have an attorney represent them during the process. The attorney can make sure the party’s rights are protected, give arguments as to whether an order should be issued, plead for limits on an order, present evidence at a hearing, attempt to prevent the other party from entering evidence or show why it’s not credible.
A respondent who violates a protective order issued by the court could be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor. It could result in the person spending up to a year in prison.
How to get help with a Kentucky protective order
If you have been victimized in a domestic relationship, accused of such abuse or arrested for violating the terms of a protective order, contact our attorneys for a free initial consultation by calling 859-838-1415 or by filling out this online form. We can discuss your situation, your options and the best ways to protect your rights, your liberty and the future of you and your family.