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Kentucky Divorce Laws
Residency and Filing Requirements:
In order to file for a dissolution of marriage in Kentucky, residency requirements must be met for the court to accept the case. If the court discovers it does not have jurisdictional rights to hear the case it will not be accepted or it will eventually be dismissed. The requirements 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. (Kentucky Statutes - Title 35 - Chapters: 403.140 and 452.470)
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Grounds for Filing:
The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage must declare the appropriate Kentucky grounds upon which the dissolution of marriage is being sought. The appropriate lawful ground will be that which the parties agree upon and can substantiate, or that which the filing spouse desires to prove to the court. The dissolution of marriage grounds are as follows:

Irretrievable breakdown.

(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 Spouse Title:
Petitioner. The Petitioner is the spouse who initiates the filing procedure with the family law or domestic relations court.

Non-Filing Spouse Title:
Respondent. The Respondent is the spouse who does not file the initial dissolution of marriage papers, but rather receives them by service.

Court Name:
Circuit Court. This is the Kentucky court where the dissolution of marriage will be filed. The court will assign a case number and have jurisdictional rights to facilitate and grant the orders concerning, but not limited to: property and debt division, support, custody, and visitation. The name of the court is clearly represented at the top of all documents that are filed.

Primary Documents:
Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. These are the essential documents needed to start and finalize a dissolution of marriage according to Kentucky law. There are anywhere from ten to twenty other documents that may be required throughout the filing process. A few other documents that are typically filed during the process are: Verification, Marital Settlement Agreement, Affidavit Regarding the Children, Request for Hearing, Notice of Hearing, and Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
Read more about Kentucky divorce forms.


Court Clerk's Title:
Office of the Clerk of the County Circuit Court. The clerk or the clerk's assistants will be the people managing your paperwork with the court. The clerk's office will keep the parties and the lawyers informed throughout the process in regards to additional paperwork that is needed, further requirements, and hearing dates and times.

Property Distribution:
Since Kentucky is an "equitable distribution" state, the marital property shall be divided in an equitable fashion. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is fair. The court will encourage the parties to reach a settlement on property and debt issues otherwise the court will declare the property award.

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: (a) Contribution of each spouse to acquisition of the marital property, including contribution of a spouse as homemaker; (b) Value of the property set apart to each spouse; (c) Duration of the marriage; and (d) 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)
Read more about Kentucky property division


Restoration or Name Change:
403.230 Legal separation -- Court may convert, to a decree of dissolution -- Restoration of former name. (1) 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. (2) 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:
Not all cases involve support from one spouse to the other. The obligation of one spouse to support the other financially for a temporary or permanent basis is decided on a case-by-case basis as agreed to by the parties or at the court's discretion.

Court may grant an order for either spouse. (1) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, or a proceeding for maintenance following dissolution of a marriage by a court which lacked personal jurisdiction over the absent spouse, the court may grant a maintenance order for either spouse only if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance: (a) Lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to him, to provide for his reasonable needs; and (b) Is unable to support himself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home. (2) 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: (a) 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; (b) The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment; (c) The standard of living established during the marriage; (d) The duration of the marriage; (e) The age, and the physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; and (f) 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)
Read more about Kentucky alimony / spousal support


Counseling or Mediation Requirements:
If one of the parties has denied under oath or affirmation that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including the circumstances that gave rise to filing the petition and the prospect of reconciliation, and shall: (a) Make a finding whether the marriage is irretrievably broken; or (b) Continue the matter for further hearing not fewer than 30 nor more than 60 days later, or as soon thereafter as the matter may be reached on the court's calendar, and may suggest to the parties that they seek counseling.

The court, at the request of either party shall, or on its own motion may, order a conciliation conference. At the adjourned hearing the court shall make a finding whether the marriage is irretrievably broken. (Kentucky Statutes - Title 35 - Chapters: 403.170)

Child Custody:
When minor children are involved in a dissolution of marriage, the Kentucky courts will do everything possible to help lessen the emotional trauma the children may be experiencing. If the parents cannot come to an agreement regarding the issues involving the children, the court will establish the custody order at its discretion.

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: (a) The wishes of the child's parent or parents, and any de facto custodian, as to his custody; (b) The wishes of the child as to his custodian; (c) 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; (d) The child's adjustment to his home, school, and community; (e) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved; (f) Information, records, and evidence of domestic violence; (g) 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 (i) 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.

The court shall not consider conduct of a proposed custodian that does not affect his relationship to the child. If domestic violence and abuse is alleged, the court shall determine the extent to which the domestic violence and abuse has affected the child and the child's relationship to both parents.

The abandonment of the family residence by a custodial party shall not be considered where said party was physically harmed or was seriously threatened with physical harm by his or her spouse, when such harm or threat of harm was causally related to the abandonment.

The court may grant joint custody to the child's parents, or to the child's parents and a de facto custodian, if it is in the best interest of the child.

If the court grants custody to a de facto custodian, the de facto custodian shall have legal custody under the laws of the Commonwealth. (Kentucky Statutes - Title 35 - Chapters: 403.270)

Read more about Kentucky child custody


Child Support:
Kentucky child support guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model for calculating child support. The monthly support amount determined by applying the guidelines is divided proportionally according to each parent's income. These two support amounts are then offset to establish which parent will pay the other parent for support of the child. All income is typically verified by examining past W-2's and child support worksheets are available at the courthouse.

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 (1) or more of the following criteria: (a) A child's extraordinary medical or dental needs; (b) A child's extraordinary educational, job training, or special needs; (c) Either parent's own extraordinary needs, such as medical expenses; (d) The independent financial resources, if any, of the child or children; (e) Combined monthly adjusted parental gross income in excess of the Kentucky child support guidelines; (f) 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 (g) 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)
Read more about Kentucky child support


Copyright Notice: The above synopsis of Kentucky divorce laws is original material which is owned and copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This material has been adapted from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. Violation of this notice will result in immediate legal action.

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In a Kentucky divorce involving children, the law requires a mandatory 60-day waiting period before the Court can make a lasting decision in the case. The waiting period starts on the service date of the petition. However, until it expires, a court can issue a temporary order for pressing matters. A full waiting period may not be necessary if an attorney representing a defendant/respondent files an entry of appearance.

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