Kentucky Divorce Laws

Kentucky Divorce and Residency

The residency of an individual defines where a divorce case shall be filed. The Kentucky circuit courts of each county will handle the residents within their counties. If a case is filed to the wrong court, the court will throw out the case and it will be dismissed.

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.

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 individual’s 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.

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 the physical effect 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 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