Kentucky Divorce Laws

Divorce Laws in Kentucky

If you live in the Bluegrass State and are considering ending your marriage, it is important to understand the divorce process in Kentucky. By familiarizing yourself with the necessary steps and potential outcomes, you can ensure that you enter the process with confidence, prepared to make decisions that best suit your individual goals and circumstances.

Kentucky divorce

In Kentucky, couples wishing to end their marriage must file official paperwork with the court. As you move through the process, you will have the opportunity to make informed choices concerning matters such as spousal support, child custody, and property division. This guide is designed to take you step by step through the divorce procedure in Kentucky, equipping you with the information you need to make sound decisions during what can undoubtedly be a challenging time.

Kentucky Divorce and Residency

The state of Kentucky requires individuals to meet strict residency requirements in order to be eligible for a divorce. Before filing legal paperwork with the court, you must have been living in the Bluegrass State for at least 180 days prior to the time of filing – or if in the military, stationed in Kentucky for that same period of time.

Under Kentucky law only one individual in the marriage is required to be a resident of Kentucky, however, the individual petitioning does not need to be a Kentucky resident if his or her spouse is a Kentucky resident. Kentucky requires that individuals reside in the state for a minimum of one hundred eighty days before residency is granted. Those who are stationed in the state for military duty also meet these requirements at one hundred eighty days.

This guide provides essential information about what to expect during the divorce process in Kentucky and how to make important decisions along the way. Understanding the rules will help ensure that all involved parties are well informed about their rights and the options available to them. The ultimate goal is to provide clarity and peace of mind as you embark upon this difficult transition.

Divorce residency requirements in Kentucky

To be able to apply for dissolution of marriage in the state of Kentucky you must ensure that the Circuit Court holds jurisdiction over the case. The courts may agree to dissolution, providing you meet the requirements, which are as follows:

  • One spouse has been residing in the state, or they were stationed in the armed forces within the state for a period of no less than 180 days preceding the filing of the petition.

Usually, the filing will take place in the state, in which the filing spouse resides.

Grounds for divorce in Kentucky

In order to have a divorce case legalized there need to be proper grounds for divorce. These are the reasons why divorce is requested. One individual may state the grounds for divorce and later prove them before the court or both individuals can agree on the grounds for divorce while petitioning.

Kentucky has a specific set of grounds that it deems legal. Any grounds outside these sets will not allow a divorce to be granted.

The breakdown of a marriage with irretrievable damage is the only instance in Kentucky where a divorce will be granted. Both individuals must state in the petition or in court that the marriage at hand is broken beyond repair, and the divorce will be granted. If one of the individuals names the marriage to be broken beyond repair and his or her spouse does not deny this claim, then the court will decide if the divorce will be granted.

Before a divorce can be finalized the individuals must live in separate homes for a minimum of sixty days or live in the same household without residing in the same room for cohabitation for sixty days. A reconciliation conference can be ordered through the court.

The dissolution of marriage will only be agreed upon under certain terms and conditions. In Kentucky, this is if the marriage has reached the point of irretrievable breakdown. They will consider the following:

  • The court will decide if they believe the marriage is irretrievable.
  • Should they find evidence there may be a chance of reconciliation they may order counseling sessions.

Kentucky Statutes – Title 35 – Chapters: 403.140

Filing for Divorce

Filing for divorce can be a difficult process and can include as many as twenty different documents. Once filed these documents will be processed and maintained by the circuit court’s clerk’s office in the county of residency.

Some of the documents that are included in divorce cases include:

  • Conclusions of Law and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage forms
  • Affidavit Regarding the Children forms
  • Marital Settlement Agreement forms
  • Verification forms
  • Notice of Hearing forms
  • Request for Hearing forms
  • and Findings of Fact forms.

Filing with the Court in Kentucky

You must file your Kentucky divorce papers in the court located in the County where you presently reside. We will provide the court information in the documents that we send to you, but some of the courts in Kentucky are listed below:

  • Jefferson County District Court:
    Louis D. Brandeis Hall of Justice, 600 W. Jefferson St., Louisville, KY 40202 Phone: (502) 595-3055 Fax: (502) 595-4629
  • Daviess County District Court:
    Holbrook Judicial Center, 100 E. Second Street, Owensboro, KY 42302-0277 Phone: (270) 687-7327 Fax: (270) 687-7046
  • Fayette County District Courthouse:
    120 N. Limestone, Room 103, Lexington, KY 40507-1152 Phone: (859) 246-2141 Fax: (859) 246-2530

If your County court is not listed, the information for your court will be included in the divorce papers we send you.

Distributing Property

Kentucky considers itself to be an equitable distribution state where all the property acquired during the marriage will be divided in a fair manner. This manner may not divide the property evenly between the spouses. If the individuals cannot reach a settlement on the property on their own, then the court will award the property and debts separately.

Property can be distributed depending on the spouse’s education, economic standings, the length of the marriage, contribution to the household, current income, and any children present. Any misconduct during the marriage will not affect the property distribution.

Property division factors

Kentucky is an equitable distribution state so the first factor is taken into account if the courts are deciding property division is what property is classed as being marital. Any property classed as marital will then be given value and this sum of money is divided equitably. The following is taken into consideration:

  1. The contribution of each spouse to the marital property
  2. Value of any property set apart for each of the spouses
  3. The duration of the marriage
  4. The economic circumstances of each of the spouses with the thought being taken into account of the spouse who has been given custody of the child.

Kentucky Statutes – Title 35 – Chapters: 403.190

Child custody issues when divorcing

When the courts are considering child custody issues, they will take the considerations of the child into account before anything else. Equal consideration is also given to both parents. All relevant factors will also be considered which include:

  • The wishes of the parents of the child
  • The wishes of the child themselves as to the custodial parent
  • The relationship between the child, parents, and any siblings
  • How well the child might adjust to their surroundings including school and community
  • The mental and physical effects on the child
  • Any evidence of domestic violence including records and information
  • The intent of either parent is to place the child with a de facto custodian

The Kentucky courts will also consider visitation rights for grandparents if they believe that it is in the best interests of the child for them to have continued visits. Chapter 405, Section 021 (KRS §405.021). however certain factors may be considered which include:

  • The wishes of the parents and the child
  • Interaction between the child and grandparents
  • The child’s adjustment to such as community
  • Parents may have the right to choose whether grandparents have visitation rights or not

Child support issues

Both or either of the parents may be asked to contribute towards child support. The courts will follow certain guidelines when considering child support and these are presumed to be correct but may be adjusted with the following circumstances in mind:

  1. Any extraordinary medical or dental needs of the child
  2. Any financial resources of the child
  3. The combined incomes of the parents that are in excess of the Kentucky child support guideline amounts
  4. Any agreement that spouses had already agreed upon
  5. Any other circumstances which the court deems to be extraordinary
  6. The court may ask that spouses contribute towards the health insurance of the child.

Kentucky Revised Statutes; Title 35, Chapters 403.210 to 403.212


Is Kentucky a 50/50 state when it comes to divorce?

No, Kentucky is an equitable distribution state. This means that the court will attempt to divide the marital assets in a fair and equitable manner, taking into account factors such as income, earning capacity, length of marriage, age, health, and other relevant factors.

How long do you have to be separated before divorce in Kentucky?

Unless there is already a written separation agreement in place or you are seeking a no-fault divorce based on irreconcilable differences, you must be living separately and apart from your spouse for at least 60 days before filing for divorce in Kentucky.

What am I entitled to in a divorce in KY?

During the divorce process, the court will decide how to divide marital assets and debts. You may be entitled to certain marital property or alimony depending on the specific circumstances of your case.

How is money split in a divorce Kentucky?

In Kentucky, the court divides marital property on an equitable basis. This means that the court will consider all relevant facts and equitably divide the marital assets and debts between the parties.

What qualifies you for alimony in KY?

Depending on the facts of your particular case, you may be awarded spousal support (Kentucky refers to this as maintenance). Factors that the court will consider include the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of each party, the educational level of each party, age and health of each party, and any other factors relevant to the case.

How many years do you have to be married to get alimony in Kentucky?

There is not a set number of years required to qualify for alimony in Kentucky. Rather, the court considers all relevant facts and determines whether one party should receive maintenance payments from the other after evaluating the overall circumstances of the marriage.

Does it matter who files for divorce first in Kentucky?

Generally speaking, no. The court does not consider who filed first when deciding matters such as asset division or alimony. However, if one party files for divorce before an official separation agreement or other document has been signed, the terms stated in those documents may be taken into consideration by the court.

Does adultery affect alimony in Kentucky?

Yes. If adultery is proven to have taken place during the marriage, it can be grounds for temporary or permanent alimony. Additionally, it can have an impact on other issues such as child custody and visitation rights.

Is alimony mandatory in Kentucky?

No. Alimony is not mandatory in Kentucky and will only be granted if the court finds that one party is entitled to maintenance payments from the other.

Who gets the house in a divorce in KY?

Generally speaking, the house is divided between both parties according to equitable division laws in Kentucky. The court will look at a variety of factors such as income level, length of marriage, age and health of each party, and other relevant factors before making a final decision about dividing marital assets.

Who pays for divorce in Kentucky?

Each party is responsible for their own legal fees in divorce proceedings in Kentucky. If one party cannot afford attorney fees, they may be able to apply for assistance through a pro bono or low-cost legal clinic.

What is the first step in getting a divorce in Kentucky?

The first step is to file for dissolution of marriage with the court if you do not already have an existing formal written separation agreement or other settlement document. After filing, you must serve your spouse with notification of the divorce proceeding and attend all court hearings related to your case.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.