Kentucky Divorce Laws
The state of Kentucky has unique divorce laws for people who wish to terminate their marriage.
We are providing this online divorce information to you as an easy divorce reference guide to help you while you are doing your own divorce. This information (and much more) is available inside your personal 3StepDivorce account area in order to help you understand how Kentucky addresses the most important issues in the divorce process and certain elements throughout your divorce forms.
The following overview of Kentucky divorce laws will help you understand the filing procedure and other primary issues concerning your divorce. Please keep in mind that our Kentucky online divorce service and support staff will make the process easy for you from start to finish. We take the difficulty out of doing your own divorce.
Residency Requirements: In order to file for a Dissolution of Marriage in Kentucky, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:
Court may enter decree of dissolution or separation. (1) The Circuit Court shall enter a decree of dissolution of marriage if: (a) The court finds that one (1) of the parties, at the time the action was commenced, resided in this state, or was stationed in this state while a member of the armed services, and that the residence or military presence has been maintained for 180 days next preceding the filing of the petition.
The Dissolution of Marriage is typically filed with in county in which the filing spouse lives. (Kentucky Statutes - Title 35 - Chapters: 403.140 and 452.470)
No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested Dissolution of Marriage cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of Kentucky the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:
(1) If both of the parties by petition or otherwise have stated under oath or affirmation that the marriage is irretrievably broken, or one of the parties has so stated and the other has not denied it, the court, after hearing, shall make a finding whether the marriage is irretrievably broken. No decree shall be entered until the parties have lived apart for 60 days. Living apart shall include living under the same roof without sexual cohabitation. The court may order a conciliation conference as a part of the hearing. (Kentucky Statutes - Title 35 - Chapters: 403.140)
Filing Party Name: The Petitioner. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the Dissolution of Marriage and is the one who actually files the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the county court.
Non-Filing Party Name: The Respondent. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested Dissolution of Marriage versus a contested Dissolution of Marriage. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.
Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: Circuit Court. All Dissolution of Marriage cases in the state of Kentucky are facilitated through this court for that particular county.
Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a Kentucky clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: Office of the Clerk of the County Circuit Court.
Property and Debt Division: Kentucky is considered an "equitable distribution" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the marital property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is marital. Second, it will put a value on the marital property. Third, it will divide the marital property in an equitable fashion, which is not necessarily equal, but rather what is considered to be fair.
In a proceeding for dissolution of the marriage or for legal separation, or in a proceeding for disposition of property following dissolution of the marriage by a court which lacked personal jurisdiction over the absent spouse or lacked jurisdiction to dispose of the property, the court shall assign each spouse's property to him. It also shall divide the marital property without regard to marital misconduct in just proportions considering all relevant factors including: (1) Contribution of each spouse to acquisition of the marital property, including contribution of a spouse as homemaker; (2) Value of the property set apart to each spouse; (3) Duration of the marriage; and (4) Economic circumstances of each spouse when the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of any children. (Kentucky Statutes - Title 35 - Chapters: 403.190)
Changing Name: 403.230 Legal separation -- Court may convert, to a decree of dissolution -- Restoration of former name. (a) No earlier than one year after entry of a decree of legal separation, the court on motion of either party shall convert the decree to a decree of dissolution of marriage. (b) Upon request by a wife whose marriage is dissolved or declared invalid, the court may, and if there are no children of the parties shall, order her maiden name or a former name restored. (Kentucky Statutes - Title 35 - Chapters: 403.230)
Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.
The maintenance order shall be in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just, and after considering all relevant factors including: (1) The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to him, and his ability to meet his needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party as custodian; (2) The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment; (3) The standard of living established during the marriage; (4) The duration of the marriage; (5) The age, and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; and (6) The ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance. (Kentucky Statutes - Title 35 - Chapters: 403.200)
Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the Kentucky courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.
The court shall determine custody in accordance with the best interests of the child and equal consideration shall be given to each parent and to any de facto custodian.
The court shall consider all relevant factors including: (1) The wishes of the child's parent or parents, and any de facto custodian, as to his custody; (2) The wishes of the child as to his custodian; (3) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his parent or parents, his siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests; (4) The child's adjustment to his home, school, and community; (5) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved; (6) Information, records, and evidence of domestic violence; (7) The extent to which the child has been cared for, nurtured, and supported by any de facto custodian; (h) The intent of the parent or parents in placing the child with a de facto custodian; and (8) The circumstances under which the child was placed or allowed to remain in the custody of a de facto custodian, including whether the parent now seeking custody was previously prevented from doing so as a result of domestic violence and whether the child was placed with a ,de facto custodian to allow the parent now seeking custody to seek employment, work, or attend school. (Kentucky Statutes - Title 35 - Chapters: 403.270)
Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the Kentucky child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.
A written finding or specific finding on the record that the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case shall be sufficient to rebut the presumption and allow for an appropriate adjustment of the guideline award if based upon one the following criteria: (1) A child's extraordinary medical or dental needs; (2) A child's extraordinary educational, job training, or special needs; (3) Either parent's own extraordinary needs, such as medical expenses; (4) The independent financial resources, if any, of the child or children; (5) Combined monthly adjusted parental gross income in excess of the Kentucky child support guidelines; (6) The parents of the child, having demonstrated knowledge of the amount of child support established by the Kentucky child support guidelines, have agreed to child support different from the guideline amount. However, no such agreement shall be the basis of any deviation if public assistance is being paid on behalf of a child (7) Any similar factor of an extraordinary nature specifically identified by the court which would make application of the guidelines inappropriate. (Kentucky Statutes - Title 35 - Chapters: 403.210 and 403.212)
Copyright Notice: These Kentucky divorce laws above are copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.
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