Rivers v. Howell, Ky COA, Domestic Violence

Rivers v. Howell, _ S.W.3d _ (Ky. App. 2008), 2008 WL 5428209

Howell filed a domestic violence petition against Rivers.  The trial court found that Howell had standing to seek a Domestic Violence Order as a member of an “unmarried couple” as defined in KRS 403.720(3).  The parties were involved in a five year relationship.  Although the parties were engaged to be married at one time and stayed at each other’s residences for periods as long as a week, they never did marry and always maintained separate residences.  They each had access to keys to each other’s residence at various times during the relationship.  Howell’s children occasionally stayed with Rivers, but there was no permanent bed for their use.
The Court of Appeals held that the trial court’s finding was clearly erroneous. Applying the factors set out in Barnett v. Wiley, COA found the parties fell short of the definition of an “unmarried couple.”  The domestic violence statutes do not provide protection to victims in a dating relationship, who are not cohabitating.

Digested by Sarah Jost Nielsen, Diana L. Skaggs + Associates