Does The Center for Women and Families provide legal advice or council?
No, The Center for Women and Families does not and cannot provide any legal counsel. The Center can provide a legal advocate that will help you navigate the complicated legal system and offer you support and information. We can refer you to the free legal services that are available in our service area. You also have the option to hire an attorney to provide you legal counsel and representation if you choose.
Where can I get legal aid?
- The Legal Aid Society provides free legal services to low income citizens. To see if you qualify for Legal Aid, contact them at (502) 584-1254 or at laslou.org. The Legal Aid Society offers services to residents living in the following counties: Jefferson, Oldham, Trimble, Henry, Shelby, Spencer, Washington, Marion, Nelson, Bullitt, Larue, Hardin, Grayson, Breckinridge, and Meade. If you do not live in one of these counties, visit www.kyjustice.org to find a Legal Aid near you.
- The Kentucky Lawyer Referral Line, (502) 583-1801, offers a free attorney referral and up to 30 minutes of free consultation. For more information visit the Louisville Bar Association website.
- The Louisville Bar Association holds Call-a-Lawyer on the third Tuesday of each month between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. This service allows you to call (502) 583-1801 to talk directly with a volunteer attorney who will provide information based on brief descriptions of legal issues, including suggestions of where you may go for legal assistance. Call-a-Lawyer is designed to aid understanding of legal issues rather than provide specific legal advice for individual circumstances. All calls are confidential and free of charge. For more information visit Louisville Bar Association Website.
- Indiana Legal Services provides free civil legal assistance to eligible low-income individuals throughout the state of Indiana. Their office is located at 3303 Plaza Drive #5 in New Albany, and their phone number is (812) 945-4123. You may drop by or call them during their office hours, which are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You may also visit their website at Indiana Legal Services.
- Southern Indiana Pro Bono Referrals is a non-profit organization that refers qualifying low-income Indiana residents with civil legal needs to volunteer attorneys. They cover Crawford, Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Orange, Scott, and Washington Counties in Indiana. You may contact them at (812) 288-8002. To learn more or apply online, you may visit their website.
What is a protective order/domestic violence order?
A protective order is a paper that is signed by a judge and tells an abuser to stop the abuse or face serious legal consequences. It offers civil legal protection from domestic violence to victims regardless of their gender. In Kentucky, an immediate temporary order is known as an emergency protective order (EPO) and a final, long-term order is known as a domestic violence order (DVO). There is also an interpersonal protective order (IPO), which provides protection to victims of violence and abuse in a dating relationship, victims of sexual assault, and victims of stalking. There is one type of order of protection in Indiana, a protective order (PO). Learn more about protective orders here.
***Assault, stalking, sexual assault, and harassment are against the law. If one of these crimes is being committed against you, in addition to seeking a protective order, you may report it to law enforcement and/or file a criminal complaint at the district court clerk’s office in the county where the abuse occurred.
How can a protective order help me?
An temporary protective order (EPO or TIPO) can do the following:
• Require the abuser to have no contact with you (including face-to-face, telephone, written, electronic, through a third party, etc.)
• Require the abuser to not commit acts of domestic violence and abuse against you
• Require the abuser to not sell or destroy any of your property or any property you share with him/her
• Require the abuser to not come within a specified distance of the residence, school, or place of employment of you, your child, your family member
• Require the abuser to stay away from you or your child (for a distance of up to 500 feet)
• Require the abuser to leave the home you share
• Give you temporary custody of your child or children
• Provide you with any other protection necessary to eliminate future domestic violence
A domestic violence order (DVO) or interpersonal order (IPO) can require everything that an EPO can require and additionally do the following:
• Award you temporary child support
• Require that either or both of you receive counseling services available in the community
Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.
Who can get a protective order?
Anyone can seek court protection from acts of domestic abuse, dating violence/abuse, stalking or sexual assault done to them by any of the following people:
- Their current or former spouse
- Their parent or step-parent
- Their child or step-child
- Their grandparent
- Their boyfriend/girlfriend who they currently or formerly live(d) with “as a couple”
- Their boyfriend/girlfriend who they have a child with (regardless of whether they ever lived together)
- Their dating partner
- In the case of stalking or sexual assault, a person may file against the perpertrator regardless of relationship, including filing against a stranger
- In addition to the relationships listed above, minor children (under 18) can also seek protection against any person living in the same household with them, regardless of the relationship between them and the abuser. In other words, they do not need to be related to the abuser in any way.
- (NOTE: The minor child will need an adult to file for the order on their behalf.)
In what county do I file for a protective order?
You can file for a protective order in the county where you live permanently or temporarily. Learn more about where you can file here.
However, if you have left the home and want to keep the address where you are staying confidential, filing in that county would likely not be a good idea since it would alert the abuser to the fact that you are living in that county.
Can I get my DVO or IPO from Kentucky enforced in another state?
Yes. If you have a valid Kentucky DVO that meets federal standards, it can be enforced in another state. The Violence Against Women Act, which is a federal law, states that all valid DVOs granted in the United States receive “full faith and credit” in all state and tribal courts within the US, including US territories. Each state must enforce out-of-state DVOs in the same way it enforces its own orders. If the abuser violates your out-of-state DVO, they will be punished according to the laws of whatever state you are in when the order is violated. This is what is meant by “full faith and credit.” If you move, you should contact the local police department or court to find out how to register your order in your new location.
Can I get a protective order against a same-sex partner?
In Kentucky and Indiana, you can file a protective order against an intimate partner if you lived together or currently live together, or are in a dating relationship.
What should I do if my abuser violates the protective order?
If a violation of a protective order occurs, immediately inform law enforcement. Violation of a protective order may be classified as a Class A misdemeanor or contempt of court and the respondent can be arrested. A criminal case may proceed from the violation. If a criminal case does not go forward or you do not wish to report to the police, you may ask the court to hold the perpetrator in contempt of court.
Can I take the kids and leave?
Questions regarding issues about children are very fact and case specific. As such, they are best addressed by a lawyer. See above for a listing of free legal resources in our area.
Property issues are case specific and based on certain facts. As such, they are best addressed by a lawyer. See above for a listing of free legal resources in our area.
What do I do if I am not a U.S. Citizen?
You can apply for a protection order regardless of legal status.
If you are not a U.S. citizen we suggest contacting one or both of the following: