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Restraining Orders in Kentucky: EPOs, DVOs, TIPOs, and IPOs

cropped-shutterstock_356898968.jpgWhen family and dating relationships take a turn for the worst, these situations can become very serious and quickly escalate to the point that the people involved find themselves settling matters in a courtroom.  In addition to seeking criminal charges, separation, or divorce, a party may seek a civil order for protection from domestic violence or abuse, dating violence or abuse, stalking behavior, or sexual assault.  When this happens, the person seeking protection is called the petitioner, while the person alleged to have committed the act of violence or abuse is called the respondent.  Individuals may seek protection for themselves, their children, or anyone else they believe is in need of protection from the respondent.  Whether you are a petitioner or respondent, the following information is important to your case.

What are the Differences Between EPOs, DVOs, TIPOs, and IPOs?

There are essentially four types of restraining orders (also known as protective orders) with which an individual should be familiar.  First, an EPO (emergency protective order) is an order that may be issued when the allegations involve domestic violence, which includes allegations where the petitioner and respondent are family members or are an unmarried couple either having a child in common or residing together currently or in the past.  An EPO is a temporary order that places restrictions on the respondent until the court holds a hearing, which typically happens within 14 days.  Once the court hearing occurs, the court may issue a DVO (domestic violence order), which places restrictions on the respondent for up to three years and is subject to renewal.

When the petitioner and respondent do not have a domestic relationship, but they have a relationship that is romantic in nature or the allegations involve stalking or sexual assault, the temporary protective order used is called a TIPO (temporary interpersonal protective order) and is similar to an EPO.  Likewise, under these circumstances, an IPO (interpersonal protective order) is used and is similar to a DVO.

What Requirements Must be Met for a Protective Order?

Protective orders are intended to stop future abuse, but the allegations on which they are based arise from events that have already occurred.  In this respect, protective orders are different from criminal cases, which involve prosecution or punishment for events that have already occurred.

To be eligible for protection, there are several requirements that must be met.  First, only certain relationships between the petitioner and respondent make a person eligible to receive protection.  These relationships include family members, any person living in the same household as a child victim, unmarried couples who have a child in common, unmarried couples who are living together or formerly lived together, a former or current dating relationship of a romantic or intimate nature, any relationship or lack thereof involving an incident of stalking, or any relationship or lack thereof involving an incident of sexual assault.

Additionally, the alleged conduct of the respondent must include one of the following: caused physical injury, committed an assault, committed sexual abuse, threatened physical injury or an assault, engaged in stalking behavior, or committed another act that placed an individual in fear of imminent physical injury, serious physical injury, or sexual abuse.

What are the First Steps in Obtaining a Protective Order?

The first step to obtaining a protective order is filing a petition at the Office of Circuit Court Clerk in your established county of residence or the county in which you currently reside if you fled your established residence due to the incident necessitating it.  You can complete this process 24 hours a day without any fees or costs, but you may need to contact local law enforcement after business hours.  In Jefferson County, Kentucky, you may complete a petition at any hour by going to the domestic violence intake center located on the first floor of the Hall of Justice.

Once you file the petition, a judge or trial commissioner reviews the information.  The judge may issue a temporary protective order (an EPO or TIPO) or the judge may only issue a summons notifying the respondent of the hearing date, which will be scheduled to happen within 14 days.  Any protective order issued will not go into effect until the respondent is notified about or served with the order.  Once served, an EPO or TIPO remains in effect until the court hearing.  However, if the respondent is not served with the order or summons before the hearing date, the temporary order may extend beyond 14 days but cannot exceed six months.  If the respondent is not served within six months, the order will expire and you must restart the petition process to continue the case.

What Happens in Court?

At the hearing, the court hears all evidence and testimony concerning the allegations.  Both the petitioner and respondent may be represented by an attorney or may choose to proceed pro se (without an attorney).  Evidence typically includes any police reports, photographs, medical records, or other items that tend to prove or rebut the allegations.  At the hearing, the petitioner may ask the judge for child support, which requires items like tax returns and proof of pay.  The court may hear testimony from any witnesses, including the petitioner and respondent.  If you are a petitioner or respondent and you testify, you will be subject to questioning by the opposing party.  It is important to understand that what you say at the hearing may be used against you in criminal proceedings.  This is one of many reasons having an attorney by your side to protect your interests is critical at protective order hearings.  Once the court hears all the evidence and testimony, the court may dismiss the case or may issue a long-term protective order (a DVO or IPO).

What are the Consequences of a Protective Order?

Once it is in place, its provisions may be enforced anywhere in Kentucky.  However, it should be registered in others states where it may need to be enforced.  If the judge enters a protective order following the court hearing, he or she may include any of the following conditions as part of the order:

  • The respondent may not have contact with the petitioner or other person unless such contact is permitted by the terms of the judge’s order.
  • The respondent must stay away from specific locations, including certain residences, schools, or work places.
  • The respondent may not abuse or threaten the petitioner.
  • The respondent my not damage the petitioner’s belongings.
  • The respondent must vacate the petitioner’s residence.

In addition to these conditions, the judge may put in place a temporary custody order concerning minor children, grant child support, require counseling and other treatment, or include any other order or condition the judge deems necessary to prevent incidents of violence in the future.

If the respondent violates a protective order, the consequences include arrest, being held in contempt of court, and being charged with a criminal offense.  The judge may even order the respondent to wear a GPS monitoring device if the violation warrants such a measure.

Either party may modify the terms by motion filed with the Office of Circuit Court Clerk where the petitioner initially obtained the order.  Additionally, once the expiration date of the protective order begins to approach, the petitioner must file a motion to extend the order in order for the protection to continue.

The bottom line is that protective orders have very serious consequences and high stakes for all parties involved.  If you fear for your safety, or the safety of your loved ones, call Louisville DVO and IPO attorney Ron Aslam today at (502) 581.1676 or contact us online.

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