If you are going through a divorce in Kentucky and your former spouse is abusive to you or threatens to do you or your children harm, you have legal options available.
One way to protect yourself and the kids is to ask your family law attorney to petition the court for an order of protection against your ex. Sometimes referred to as restraining orders, these legal documents become court orders when signed by a judge.
The person who is named in the order must then stay a certain distance from the petitioner and refrain from other forms of contact over the telephone, social media or third-party messages.
Some orders go even farther and prohibit traveling out of the jurisdiction. Some go so far as to force the person named in the order to surrender legally-owned firearms. Protective orders can be in place for both the petitioning spouse and also the children.
Some protective orders direct one spouse not to sell, give away or damage property owned by or in conjunction with the other spouse. Those who flout the law and violate restraining orders against them can be taken to jail and/or fined.
When a protective order is issued as part of an ongoing divorce action, the order may also address matters of spousal and child support and counseling on a temporary basis.
If the restraining order is obtained under emergency circumstances, they can only be valid for two weeks, although at the court's discretion, the orders can be extended for an additional 14 days.
If the order is later made "permanent," that's generally only a three-year period. However, if the petitioner or her attorney returns to court with compelling reasons for extending the protective order, the judge can grant the extension for another year. Some restraining orders are then reissued annually as long as the defendant presents a threat.
Protective orders are not free, although fees may be waived by the court if the plaintiff is indigent.
After an order is issued by the court, law enforcement agencies having jurisdiction over the parties must be provided with copies within 24 hours to be entered into Kentucky's Law Information Network that maintains current filings of domestic violence records.
Source: FindLaw, "Kentucky Protective Orders Laws," accessed July 28, 2017