Can You Explain an EPO and DVO?

In Kentucky, an EPO is an Emergency Protection Order and is granted based solely on the sworn testimony of one witness, often referred to as a victim. Due to the emergency nature of an EPO, it is only granted for a maximum of 14 days. This allows the person accused to be given an opportunity to be heard by the judge before a more permanent order can be entered.

Within the 14 days, the Court will schedule the matter for a hearing to determine whether or not to grant a DVO, or Domestic Violence Order. A DVO can be entered for a period of up to 3 years and can be extended thereafter upon motion of the victim.

While not technically criminal, a DVO has many criminal like consequences. For example, if a DVO is granted, the accused will not be allowed to own, possess or carry a firearm during the period of the DVO. Additionally, the DVO appears on a police officer’s computer if a history is reviewed. A violation of a DVO is a criminal offense, no matter how minor the infraction.

Often people mistakenly believe that a DVO is mutual or that a victim can waive the protection. Both are false: if a DVO is entered against you and you are in violation – you go to jail. It does not matter if the victim called you or placed you in the position of violating (being within 500 feet), the DVO does not apply to the victim.

In order to change the terms of a DVO, a victim must seek a dismissal or modification by the Court which originally entered the DVO. The Court is not required, but often will grant the modification. The accused should be skeptical of any request to meet or otherwise violate a DVO and should not allow themselves to be in such a position unless the DVO is dismissed or modified.

If you have been charged with Domestic Violence or wish to know your rights about modifying a DVO, in Northern Kentucky contact attorney Michael W. Bouldin at mwbouldin@fuse.net or 859-581-6453.

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120 Responses to Can You Explain an EPO and DVO?

  1. mbouldin says:

    You cannot get another DVO unless there are new allegations. If you filed for the original to be extended prior to the time it expired, it can (and generally would be) extended for another 3 years.

  2. ellen says:

    Can a dvo be amended to drop a person off of the order. Such as a child being dropped off of the dvo/epo so that the respondent can have visitation with said child.

  3. mbouldin says:

    Absolutely. Many times an DVO will be amended to allow parenting time with the minor child. If there is a custody case and a domestic violence case, it is often necessary to file a motion to amend both at the same time so that the judge will not have conflicting orders. This is also part of the reason that there is family court so that the same judge who decides the custody arrangements can and should also decide the orders which go into a domestic violence so that they are congruent.

  4. david c says:

    my sister had a dvo after getting out of jail in march of this year.the victim is mom.she came back home and lived with my parents.dad wanted her there,but not mom. she violated mom verbally and physicially. my dad did nothing.so she entered into a private hospital to hide. she has missed three court dates.she wants the dvo to be rectified,so she can come home permantently.

  5. mbouldin says:

    It is hard to determine who missed the court and even then, what the courts were for. If there is an active DVO, it sounds like sister is in violation. Mom has the right to contact authorities to enforce the DVO.

  6. tracie says:

    After finding out my husband was having an affair he came home that same night and we had an arguement! There was no violence but yelling. He did raise his arm to me but didn’t strick! He called the police. They told him to leave. There is no police record of it. Someone sent a mass email about his affair to all of the other coaches, high school athletic board and KHSAA. He coaches high school football. I had NOTHING to do with it! He filed an EPO against me 1 hour after he recieved the email. I have left the house with my 3 minor children in fear he might have me arrested. I go to court on Friday. What do I need to do to prove I didn’t do anything but argue on that Friday night? Do I take my 3 minor children to court with me? They witnessed the arguement. He is emotionally unstable due to lots of stress. He filed for divorce in August and I got records of disclosure 3 weeks ago. He took all papers so I have no way of responding. I do not want a divorce. I want him to get counseling help. Is there something I can do in court to make that happen for him?

  7. mbouldin says:

    You should hire an attorney who can advise if you should take the children. It generally depends upon their age and what they actually saw. You need an attorney for the divorce; you can also get a copy of the divorce filings from the Circuit Court Clerk.

  8. bryan.. says:

    Ok. My baby mom filed an e.p.o because i
    wanted to see my son on christmas. She refuse d an we got into a verbal argument at the hearibg she lied and said i had hit her on the past. So the judge put d.v.o in place and i gotta take domestic violence classes that cost too much and i have no job. The court granted her custody of my son. I get 1 one hour supervised visits which i haave to pay for. It hurts me because i have had my son everyday of his life up to this point. I dont want any contact with my ex still i just want better visitation schedules. With the dvo in place i cant even talk to him on the phone. I miss him so much.. is there anythingi can do? I live in louisville..

  9. mbouldin says:

    You can file for custody/visitation in a civil case. After filed, once you request visitation you will also have to ask the judge to amend the DVO so that they are not in conflict with each other. If not, you might be granted parenting time in the civil case and could also be in violation of the DVO. Even though you are starting behind the 8 ball, you can get back. It will take some work, including attending and completing the Anger Management classes. It would be much easier with a good attorney guidance; of course that will cost money. Realize that getting back and getting custody (and keeping it) is a lifelong process. Get a plan: (1) get a job; (2) pay support; (3) get into and complete A/M classes; (4) hire attorney; (5) file for custody… Best wishes.

  10. Amanda says:

    I have court next weekto get the EPO that i have on my ex husband extended. Hes been very violent for most of our relationship and i got sick of it. I have a son from a past relationship and a daughter with my very abusive ex husband (shes 1 year old now) and im expecting another son in 2 weekss because my ex raped me. If i dont get the EPO extended im afraid he will hurt us bad… he did breach the EPO as well and threatened to kidnap my kids. He was arrested but denies everything hes ever done and said to us. Im so scared that it wont get extended… hes crazy! What will help my chances of getting it extended?? I live in canada… its an emergency..

  11. mbouldin says:

    Each state has different laws on the extension of an EPO. Typically, the EPO is put in place for a very short time and is based on either the testimony or the affidavit of the victim only. It becomes a more permanent DVO if the victim proves to the court that domestic violence did, in fact, occur and that it is necessary to prevent it in the future. There is also the opportunity for the other person to cross-examine, present evidence and testify on his own behalf. The burden of proof is “preponderance of evidence.” That is, is it more likely than not that the Domestic Violence occurred. If so, the DVO will be entered. I will say that each state varies, but the judges within that state may vary as well. Some judges want proof of domestic violence (i.e. hospital records, bruising, witnesses) while others are much more protective and issue them based on threats.

  12. J. Ford says:

    I’m having my first child with a girl whom I no longer have a relationship with and is back with her first child’s baby father. She has expressed desire to keep me out of the child’s life as much as possible and raise the child to believe he is the father. Of course I’m going to establish paternity first of all. But also I am concerned for the welfare/safety my child(if it is mine). They had a domestic dispute in with there was an EPO against him and he was psychiatrically evaluated. I believe the report was terroristic threatening. I think she told me he said he would kill himself and/or her I’m not sure exactly. But I’m wondering what kind of steps I can take to make sure he’s as small a part of the child’s life as possible. They aren’t married and never were. Also, she has admitted to smoking and drinking throughout the pregnancy and she isn’t even of legal drinking age. She was investigated on her first child by CPS.

  13. mbouldin says:

    Your rights as father are equal to the mother after you have filed a custody action. Paternity is not enough. You can express concerns to a judge. The judge does have authority to order certain individuals to not be around a child. Be prepared to pay an attorney for the custody action, but involve one as soon as possible. It will be harder to convince a judge that your concerns are valid if you wait.

  14. Paula says:

    My brothers girlfriend has claimed domestic violence and got an epo on him and the judge ordered a dvo . Since then she has called him numerous times to give her a ride to the store because she has no transportation. Each time he gives her a ride somewhere he goes to jail because the police coincidently are called each time. She said she cannot get the dvo dropped, says she has already tried. My brother is in jail now for I think the 3rd or 4th time on violation of a ky epo/dvo. My question is how and could she request the dvo be dropped because she won’t leave him alone and he is always the one going to jail because she wants a pack of cigarettes from the store? What can he do besides not using his brain to stop getting tricked into her games? He is eat up with her and believes that she loves him but I keep telling him that she only says that to trick him into giving her what she wants and then when she uses him she calls the police secretly and he winds back up in jail!

  15. mbouldin says:

    It sounds like your brother is the dumbest kind of criminal. If she calls and wants cigarettes, he should hang up. He has an order that directs him to have no contact with her. Obviously, someone is also calling the police to notify them that he is in violation of the DVO. If she files to have it dropped, there will be a hearing where he can present evidence and she can request. The judge does not have to drop the DVO, but usually does. If he hasn’t had a hearing, she hasn’t tried. Fool my once, shame on you. Fool me 4 times, duh!

  16. Junior says:

    My ex girlfriend had an epo on me which expired over a year ago. I went to use the restroom today at a gas station and as I was leaving I noticed that she worked there and was staring at me. I didn’t say anything to her. Can she go back up to court and get another epo on me? I didn’t know she worked there and now I am nervouse because I moved on before we broke up and I am expecting a baby soon. Please help me.

  17. mbouldin says:

    She can file a complaint for violation, however it is unlikely that the court will find you in contempt or guilty of a separate charge (violation of EPO can be either a contempt charge or it may be charged as a separate crime). Most judges will look at the entirety of the situation: was it the first time, how did you react, what did you say… If it looks to the judge like you are stalking her, they will likely find you guilty. If not, the Judge will generally just warn you. This is one of the things that is wrong with the law in this area – how can you stay away in a small community? What if she comes to your place of employment, are you required to leave? Fortunately, most judges have an sense of fairness.

  18. TJ says:

    I have my fiance brother texting me saying he is goin to rob me and come whoop my a** he has hit me in the past before but i have ignored it can i get a epo of dvo on him?

  19. mbouldin says:

    possibly. Due to the fact that you don’t have a relationship, it may not work. You can file criminal charges against him for harassing communications.

  20. susan frogge says:

    I would like to know when a person is issued a epo.. and the person who filed it started to make contact a day after to the accuser, and the accuser did not respond to it until it was 4 days later because the accuser thought it was pertaining to the minor child. And found out it did not…. My question is can the accuser be arrested, would the judge drop the order and or would the accuser be arrested??? Although the accuser has the texts from the person who file the epo

  21. mbouldin says:

    The accuser cannot be arrested. The case is against only one person. Often times I see an accuser lure the other person into violating the EPO/DVO. Since there is no penalty for the accuser to violate, she may call the person and ask them to respond or to meet. If the accused does respond or meet, they are violating the EPO/DVO. If it is simply to answer the phone, most courts will not consider that a violation of the DVO, however it is a technical violation. If the accuser wants contact, they must either dismiss the EPO at the hearing, tell the Judge (and have the Judge) enter orders allowing contact or file a Motion to Modify an existing DVO. Even if a Motion to Modify is filed, no contact is allowed until the Judge rules on that issue.

  22. BeingUsed says:

    Does anyone in the Northern KY area represent cases of parental alieniation?
    My ex never follows our court ordered, very precise and laid out visitation plans and violates all rules. He comes and goes as he pleases, enters my home , takes the kids on my vacation times, orders them to take the bus to HIS home (on my time)
    We have specific vacations every year, and he takes them every time leaving me with no time with my children, During the summer he has them doing so many activities and enforces them to attend their “mandatory” meetings which is EVERY SINGLE TIME I am supposed to have them!! When am I supposed to have my kids?!!! WHEN?? And why wont the courts enforce his contempt? His family is known in the community..PLEASE HELP!!!!

  23. mbouldin says:

    Make an appointment with domestic/family law attorney. I practice both criminal and family law. Check my website at http://www.bouldinlawfirm.com. call Emily at 859-581-6453 for an appointment.

  24. Mom says:

    Can a person who filed an epo on father of son have the county attorney drop it prior to court date in Kentucky? In past my husband hit my son and I told the child service woman. He has signed up for help in parenting and also anger management since. The time the epo order was filed they got into a verbal argument over my son of 14 back talking and calling my husband names and my husband said I will kill you if you don’t stop. He didn’t really mean it. He loves his kids. What can I do to get this over with? He has expressed how sorry and wrong it was to say that. My son is rebellious and has hit me and been very disrespectful at times. My husband has never received anything from the court. So last hearing it was carried over for two more weeks. He has still not been given anything. I told him to call child services to see what would help and they were like rude and told him he would hear from the county were he is living child services. He has not received anything or heard from anyone. If I go Thursday to court and drop it and he tells them he is willing to do anything to help be with his family will they let him come home? Or my first question can the county attorney have this dropped since he has never received anything?

  25. mbouldin says:

    There are 3 possible cases. If criminal or juvenile, the county attorney handles the case. If EPO (styled as D case: 12-D-xxx) you can drop and there will not be a prosecutor in the court.

  26. Miracle says:

    Why can a dvo/epo be granted on heresay without any proof the person did what the other person is accusing them of. Whatever happened to innocent until PROVEN guilty. My mom dropped a dvo she had on me then not even a month later got another epo on me without even having to prove what she was saying I did was true. Why does she have the right to make me leave the house and make me homeless on heresay. She’s bipolar and doesn’t handle situations rationally and to get the epo she brought up things that happened in the past that weren’t even recent or relevant. I didn’t even go to jail because I hadn’t done anything and yet still it was allowed and I don’t understand why.

  27. mbouldin says:

    The laws are passed by legislatures who have opined that it is better to protect the rights of the “victims” than to abridge the rights of the accused. An EPO is not a criminal charge and it can be granted with only hearsay that someone said that you threatened them. I am a proponent of Ohio which requires at least a short hearing in which the person seeking the EPO has to testify. Even though you are not present for the initial “hearing”, at least the judge can ask some questions to see if the person is reliable and the extent of their allegations prior to depriving the other person of rights and home. I would suggest that you write to your congressman and ask them to change the law.

  28. Michelle says:

    I filed an epo on my husband on 10-25-12. Our court date is 11-7. Is it manditory that I go to the hearing if I want it dismissed?

  29. mbouldin says:

    It is generally mandatory that you appear. The judge will generally dismiss if you are not present. That said, I have seen judges issue a warrant if you simply fail to appear. Often the judge will have the “victim” speak with a counselor before agreeing to the dismissal. It is generally a court order that you attend and the easiest way to have it dismissed is to appear.

  30. Michele says:

    I have a DVO for 3 year period against my abuser ,in turn he applied and received an order aginst me for 3 years as well. There is a child support and visitation order in place for our 2 minor children ,where a 3rd party person picks up and drops off the children during these scheudled times and provides all 3rd party communication via telephone calls ,etc. I would like to drop or modify my DVO to enable the ability to avoid having to use the 3rd party any longer. If I modify or drop my order ,will his order automatically drop or modify during our court hearing scheduled for 2 weeks from now. I want his dropped when I drop mine but he would like to keep it in place . Will the judge automatically drop or modify his when we go to court to modify/drop mine. This is in Louisville . I really need his dropped when I drop mine,completely my choice to drop this not his

  31. mbouldin says:

    Modification of one does not automatically modify the other. You will have to have a motion to modify both orders. The court will not modify either without a hearing. You can file a motion in both cases and ask that they be heard together. You will need to visit the Clerk’s office who handle EPO/DVO and ask for Motion to Modify both cases.

  32. Debbie says:

    If I call the police on my husband, and say he was at my house, and we have a DVO, will he go to jail right then even if he has already left and gone back to his sisters?

  33. mbouldin says:

    Generally, yes. Violation of an EPO or DVO is generally considered a serious offense and the person is taken to jail. A fairly high cash bond is also standard. Most courts also prohibit the victim from posting bond.

  34. katie says:

    If my sixteen year old is 14 weeks pregnant by a 19 year old who was told not to be seeing my sixteen year old…yet they lied and did not follow parental guild lines
    can I place a restraining order against the 17 year old?

  35. mbouldin says:

    I don’t know where a 17 year old fits into this mix based on your question. That said, you can file an “out of control” charge against your daughter. Unless there is domestic violence, it is unlikely you will get a restraining order unless you proceed in civil court. You should seek advice soon regarding custody: paternity, child support, parenting, etc. Depending on the jurisdiction, you and/or your daughter should have counsel.

  36. Heather says:

    My Husbands Ex filed a DVO on him which granted her temp custody back in 2008. A week later she requested to ammend and stop the DVO. Does this mean that Temp custody is dropped as well? They never went to any custody hearing after this.

  37. mbouldin says:

    Yes, if that is all there was and the temporary order expired or was dismissed. Just because she asked that it be dropped doesn’t mean it was dropped. He can check the court records to assure the DVO was dismissed.

  38. Crystal says:

    My husband filed a DVO against me based on lies and now wants to reconcile. Can he cancel the DVO before our court date?

  39. mbouldin says:

    No. He can tell judge he wishes to dismiss at the hearing. Any communication you have with him prior to hearing can be a violation against you- be careful not to violate court orders.

  40. sharon says:

    If I have taken out an epo on my son and do not go to court what happens, thank you

  41. mbouldin says:

    Typically the case will be dismissed. The EPO expires and no DVO can be issued unless the respondent (son) would agree to it. The Judge does have authority to hold you in contempt for failure to appear, however very few judges in Kentucky take that step unless the Respondent (son) would ask them to.

  42. Matthew says:

    My exwife filed a DVO in Jefferson County court in 2011. The court did not issue an EPO since I was in Arizona. I was unavailable to attend the hearing two weeks later, because I was still in Arizona, where we both had lived with our children. She signed the DVO/EPO claim stating that it happened in Jefferson County; I had NOT been to the Commonwealth for over two years at that point. She signed the paperwork that clearly states “I affirm this happened in Jefferson County.” Can I have this, and all actions stemming from this false DVO thrown out?

  43. mbouldin says:

    It sounds like it was dismissed. If the court issued a DVO, you will have to file to have it amended/dismissed. If the court did not issue a DVO, trhere is nothing to “throw out.” There is no expungement of DV/EPO because they are not criminal cases.

  44. don gohman says:

    My ex wife has been amending her dvo been going 13 years and every three years has it is renewed.in the 13 years there has been no contact or have I wanted to contact her.I just received a degree in the medical field and find that in this field the dvo is keeping me from getting a job.How can I get this removed from my record.I’m 30 thousand dollars in debit and can’t get a job because of this 13 year dvo

  45. mbouldin says:

    You can request review. The DVO is only supposed to be continued beyond the initial 3 years if there is an ongoing reason for the dvo, the hearing also requires that there be additional proof submitted (generally a violation or ongoing threats).

  46. benthere says:

    i had a firearm taken from me while carrying it with an active dvo against me. no contact with the petitioner just carrying alone was a violation. that was almost two years ago and the dvo has since expired. i went to the property room to retrieve my firearm and they informed me that the firearm was bein held as evidence and to contact the arrestng officer. the officer explained that i had to show proof the dvo has expired or been dismissed. how do i get proof that a dvo has expired/dismissed?

  47. mbouldin says:

    Get certified copy of file from district court clerk.

  48. Justo girl says:

    So I have a question I was with this guy for 7 yeArs 6 of which he beat me, my counslers said not only was he physically abousive but was also mentally and virbal. He messes with my mind real bad unfortionly and I don’t know why I took it for so long. We have 4 kids together perhaps that is why. Anyways I finally decided to leave after he started following me through every room in the house and he even pulled a knife on himself sayin he was goin to kill himself if I didn’t do what he wanted me to in front of our 5 year old daughter her screaming and crying. However he got visitation with the kids every Sunday he has only showed up to two of these since November. However he started having his sister call me and him be on the other line to talk to the kids, I had my number changed but he made me feel so guilty that I started calling him so he could get to talk to them some, he wanted to take them to Ohio to visit with him in August and I said no not only would I not allow him to cause I don’t trust him but he isn’t allowed to either. I feel like I got myself in a bad situation and I don’t know what to do about it, he wants me To go have it dropped but I won’t, he says he is gonna fill to have it dropped as well so I am conserned about that. Our last court date was in July which he never showed up to cause he didnt complete his counseling I did complete mine however. So the judge gave him until January to finish it or get a bench warrent. He lives in Ohio and is tryin to take his counseling down in ky a town next to me, if he hadn’t of done that he would of already completed it. I am worried and conserned I can get in trouble cause I have called and let him talk to the kids, he makes me feel guilty like its all my fault I am just doing it on purpose and that he has changed but he has told me before he had changed and never did. He likes to talk alot and can fool people into believing him this concerns me. What should I do please help

  49. mbouldin says:

    You should probably hire an attorney. If you are in Northern Kentucky, call my office to schedule an appointment. I don’t know what your family court Order is regarding visitation and communication with the kids. It sounds like you may have a DVO, possibly criminal case as well as family court case. Sometimes those orders are conflicting and need to be changed. It is generally not a problem to let Dad talk to the kids.

  50. Justo girl says:

    It’s visitation every Sunday but he has only came to two of them, it is a dvo I left Ohio and came down here to get it cause he was getting to much. I am in south-eastern Kentucky to be honest. And I have an attorney through legal aid, I was scared to talk to them though cause I didn’t want to get in trouble as I have talked to him a couple times all he does is blame me though when he’s the one that choose to be abousive

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