How to Get a Protective Order

What is a protective order?

A protective order is a court order signed by a judge designed to prevent further acts of intimate partner violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

The person who files the order is the Petitioner, and the person filed against is the Respondent.

Why get a protective order?

If you are experiencing intimate partner violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking, a judge can order the person who has abused you to:

  • Have no contact with you, your children, or others who might need protection, either in person, by phone, text, email, social media, or through friends or family.
  • Stay away from your home, school, workplace, or other places you are likely to be.
  • Stop abusing, threatening, stalking, or assaulting you.
  • Leave a shared home.

If you have children in common, the court may give you temporary custody and set up a visitation schedule, or order child support.

Are there different types of protective orders?

Yes. In Kentucky there are two types of protective orders: Domestic Violence Orders and Interpersonal Protective Orders.

Who can file for a Domestic Violence Order? 

  • Family members (spouses, ex-spouses, parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, adult siblings)
  • Members of an unmarried couple (people who have lived together as a couple or people who have a child together)

Who can file for an Interpersonal Protective Order? 

  • People who are in, or have been in, a dating relationship. 
  • People who have been sexually assaulted. 
  • People who have been stalked. 

What if I am a minor or the abuser is a minor?

An adult may file on behalf of a minor, but a minor may also be allowed to file for themself – check with your local Circuit Clerk or law enforcement agency.

It doesn’t matter if the person abusing you is a minor or an adult, you can still request a protective order.

How do I get a protective order?

You must show the court that you were physically injured, assaulted, sexually assaulted, strangled, or stalked by the respondent OR that the respondent did something to place you in reasonable fear that you were about to be physically injured, assaulted, sexually assaulted, or strangled.

Where do I go to get a protective order?

You should go to the Circuit Clerk’s office – either in the county where you usually live, or the county to which you’ve fled in order to escape the abuse.

After business hours, you should contact your local police or domestic violence program to find out what to do. Protective orders are available 24 hours per day, every day.

What happens when I ask for a protective order?

You will be asked to fill out a form called a petition. Contact your local domestic violence program for assistance if you need help filling it out. The petition is where you will explain in writing what happened and what your relationship is to the respondent (if any). This form is then reviewed by a judge who will decide whether to set the matter for a court hearing, and whether or not to issue a temporary order to protect you while you wait for a hearing. These temporary protective orders are called Emergency Protective Orders or Temporary Interpersonal Protective Orders. You will be told when to come to court for your hearing, and law enforcement officers will try to serve the appropriate paperwork on the abuser.

Will I be protected by a court order while I wait for my court hearing?

Perhaps - IF the judge gives you an Emergency Protective Order or Temporary Interpersonal Protective Order in addition to setting the case for a court hearing. If the abuser violates a temporary order while you wait for court, they may be arrested, if you call the police. You may need to contact the county attorney or go back to the Circuit Clerk’s office to request assistance. However, you should also be thinking of other ways to keep yourself safe. You can contact your local domestic violence program to speak to an advocate about safety planning.

How will I know when the respondent gets notified to come to court?

You can register for VINE PO (Victim Information Notification Everyday – Protective Order) by phone at 1-800-511-1670 or online at (use the dropdown menu to select Kentucky). You will receive a phone call or email to let you know the respondent has received the court paperwork and when you should come to court. Using VINE PO is optional, but it is a good way to know what is going on with your case.

What happens when I go to court?

The judge will hold a hearing and listen to both sides. You can bring witnesses or evidence, such as medical records or police reports, to prove that the abuse happened. Phone call logs, texts, emails, or screen shots of social media posts might also be helpful. You must show the judge that the abuse occurred and may occur again. If you do this, you should be granted a long-term order—either a Domestic Violence Order or an Interpersonal Protective Order. These may last for up to three years.

What will the long-term order say?

The long-term order can do everything the temporary order did—order the abuser to not contact or hurt you and decide custody and visitation. It can also order you or the abuser to go to domestic violence or dating violence counseling.

Do I need an attorney to get a protective order, and are there any costs or fees?

You are not required to hire an attorney, but you may wish to do so. The respondent may or may not hire an attorney to help them with their case. Sometimes you may be able to get an attorney for free through your local legal services office. View Legal Resources HERE.

There are no fees or costs to you for asking for a protective order.

What if I go to the same school as the abuser?

You must let the judge know this so they will give you an order to keep you protected while allowing both you and the respondent to go to school. It is a good idea to let your school know as soon as you receive a temporary order so they may come to court for the hearing and the judge can hear directly from them about what would work best.

Can I ever change or extend the long-term order?

Yes. If you need to change anything on the order, go back to the Circuit Clerk’s office. They will have you fill out a form stating your request and put your case back before the judge. You can also do this before your order expires, if you want to try to get it extended.