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Kentucky Legal Separation
Legal Separation in Kentucky

A legal separation and divorce are similar in Kentucky. A legal separation does not end the marriage. Some couples prefer legal separation to divorce because they hope time apart may effect reconciliation or because one or both spouses have religious objection to divorce.

Courts normally approve the petitions for a legal separation unless the other spouse objects to the action. Legal separations must be in place for a period of one year before the court grants a decree of dissolution of marriage at the request of either party. Couples who wish to file for divorce in Kentucky may first file a legal separation. Divorce courts, in turn, may convert that decree to a decree of dissolution of marriage.

If the couple agrees about the terms and conditions of the separation - that is, the division of their assets and liabilities, alimony, and child support and visitation - they do not need to formally file for separation; they simply just live separately. For the separation to be valid, however, one spouse must file a Petition for Legal Separation. This petition details the reasons why the couple cannot live together.

In a separation in anticipation of divorce, the petitioner moves to enter the Decree of Legal Separation, which states that the couple is married, but separated. The couple cannot move for a divorce for 365 days.

The petitioner cannot receive temporary maintenance payments unless he or she formally files the Petition for Legal Separation. Temporary maintenance is separate from child support.

A child custody case during a legal separation in Kentucky is determined similarly to a child custody case in a divorce. The petitioner may request child support, visitation rights, or restraining orders, but these must be filed with a court to be held valid.

Once the legal separation is granted, the spouses decide its duration. After one year, if either spouse moves for dissolution of the marriage, the decree of legal separation is converted to a divorce decree. Any orders made during the legal separation ends when the separation ends - either through reconciliation or divorce.

Separation Agreement

A separation agreement is a legal binding contract signed by spouses, which is intended to resolve property, debt and child related issues. This can be a very complex and detailed document depending upon the unique situation of the marriage. Many spouses consult an attorney to provide this or they decide to prepare their own.


The petition is filed at the county court house where the petitioner resides.


The only grounds for a legal separation in Kentucky are an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.


At least one applicant must reside in the state at the time of filing, or be stationed there while a member of the armed services. Military filers must be stationed in Kentucky for 180 days prior to filing.


The respondent is served either through mail or by the authorities with a summons and the petition.

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