In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, a restraining order is legally called a domestic violence order (DVO). Such orders are usually issued only to victims of threats of violence or actual violence; the perpetrator usually must be a family member or a romantic partner. Always remember that getting any type of restraining order is legal protection on paper, but that the other party must adhere to the law and not contact you for it to really be effective. Just because a court awards you a restraining order does not mean your abuser has been convicted of a crime; criminal cases are an entirely different matter. However, violating an existing restraining order is a misdemeanor crime in Kentucky and can be punishable by jail time.
Visit your local Circuit Court, which in Kentucky usually handles civil, criminal and family matters during normal weekday business hours.
If you are in danger after court hours, call the police for help in getting an immediate restraining order.
Ask the circuit court clerk for the paperwork necessary to file an emergency protective order (EPO) against the party who has been abusing you.
Fill out the paperwork entirely; you’ll provide your full name, address, Social Security number and birthdate. Kentucky strongly suggests you provide the other party’s Social Security number if you have this information. If you don’t have that data, you must offer the other person’s full name, a current address, basic physical description and birthdate.
The paperwork will also ask you to briefly describe any acts of violence or threats of violence. Remember this will not lead to a criminal charge against the other person; you must also call the police or visit the domestic violence division of your local Commonwealth’s Attorney office if you wish to pursue criminal charges.
You’ll also briefly describe the nature of your relationship to the person from whom you seek protection, including whether you ever lived together
Wait for a judge or magistrate to approve the EPO. He may take you aside to ask questions about the circumstances of your case. Once your EPO is issued, remember it is only good for 14 days. The judge or magistrate will set a hearing date at the same courthouse; during this hearing the judge will rule whether a DVO should be granted.
Attend the appropriate Kentucky Circuit Court on the date of your restraining order hearing. If you don’t attend, the EPO will expire and you won’t have any further legal protection against your abuser.
Remember that the other person has a legal right to attend this hearing. You may want to have witnesses, photographs and any other evidence to support your claims.
The judge may grant you a DVO for one to three years, depending upon the evidence in the case.