Gomez v. Gomez, KY COA, Domestic Violence Jurisdiction

Gomez v. Gomez, __ S.W.3d __ (Ky. App. 2008), 2007-CA-001919-ME, May 9, 2008

Appellee filed a domestic violence petition in district court requesting an emergency protective order against the Appellant. The district court did not issue an emergency protective order, but did issue a summons and set the matter for a hearing. After the family court held a full evidentiary hearing, it issued a domestic violence order. Appellant appealed the order alleging that 1) since the district court failed to issue an emergency protective order, the family court lacked jurisdiction to either hold a hearing or enter a domestic violence order and 2) insufficiency of the evidence. COA found that the family court did have proper jurisdiction. Family courts are the primary forum for matters concerning domestic violence and abuse, although the district courts have concurrent jurisdiction to enter emergency protective orders under KRS 403.725. The Court found no statutory language to support Appellant’s position that district courts retain exclusive jurisdiction unless an emergency protective order is issued. Of special significance in the instant case was the fact that the parties also had a pending divorce action, which gave the family court jurisdiction under KRS 403.725(4) as well. COA also found that the family court’s issuance of the domestic violence order was supported by the evidence and was not clearly erroneous.
Digest by Sarah Jost Nielsen, Diana L. Skaggs + Associates