Kentucky Domestic Violence Laws

In Kentucky, domestic violence and abuse means any physical injury, sexual abuse, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical injury, serious physical injury, sexual abuse, or assault between "family members" or members of an "unmarried couple."

It is important to note that under Kentucky's domestic violence laws a "family member" can only be a spouse, former spouse, grandparent, parent, child, stepchild, or any other person living in the same household as a child if the child is the alleged victim. If the abuse isn't between family members then the offender likely committed an assault or battery (or a sexual assault) and not an act of domestic violence.

However, members of an unmarried couple can also engage in domestic violence. "Members of an unmarried couple" means each member of an unmarried couple who allegedly have a child in common, any children of that couple, or the members of an unmarried couple who are living together or previously lived together.

Protective Orders

Victims of domestic abuse who petition the court and can show that there is a present and immediate danger of domestic violence will generally be issued an emergency protective order. When a court issues an emergency protective order the following rules typically apply to the adverse party:

  • No communication with the petitioner (except as directed by the court)
  • No committing further acts of domestic violence or abuse
  • No disposing of, or damaging, the parties' property
  • No going within a specified distance of specific residence, school, or place of employment of the petitioner, minor child of the petitioner, family member, or member of an unmarried couple protected in the order
  • Must vacate the residence shared by the parties
  • Temporary custody may be granted to the petitioner (if applicable)
  • No approaching the petitioner, or a minor child of the petitioner, within a specified distance, or
  • Any other rules that the court believes will help eliminate further acts of domestic violence and abuse

An emergency protective orders issued in Kentucky remains in effect until there is a full hearing or until it is withdrawn by the court. When an emergency protective order is issued the court sets a date and time for the full hearing (it must be within 14 days), and the adverse party must be served a summons to appear at least 72 hours before the hearing. At the full hearing, the court may decide to implement a full-fledged protective order (also known as a restraining order in some states).

It should be noted that in reality protective orders can't prevent an abuser from stalking or hurting a victim, however, they do permit the victim to call the police and have the abuser arrested if the protective order is violated.

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding Kentucky's domestic violence laws contact a local criminal defense attorney.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of domestic violence please reach out to your local police department or an organization dedicated to promoting victim rights for help.

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