DIVORCE LAWS OF KENTUCKY
The Divorce law or the dissolution of marriage law in the State of Kentucky is governed by the Title 35 of the Kentucky revised code.
LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE
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.
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:
- Make a finding whether the marriage is irretrievably broken; or
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.
A finding of irretrievable breakdown is a determination that there is no reasonable
prospect of reconciliation.
A divorce from bed and board shall operate as to property thereafter acquired, and upon the personal rights and legal capacities of the parties, as a divorce from the bond of matrimony, except that neither shall marry again during the life of the other, and except that it shall not bar curtesy, dower or distributive right. The judgment may be revised or set aside at any time by the court rendering it.
Court may enter decree of dissolution or separation
- The Circuit Court shall enter a decree of dissolution of marriage if:
- 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 court finds that the conciliation provisions of KRS 403.170 either do not apply or have been met;
- The court finds that the marriage is irretrievably broken; and
- To the extent it has jurisdiction to do so, the court has considered, approved or made provision for child custody, the support of any child of the marriage entitled to support, the maintenance of either spouse, and the disposition of property.
If a party requests a decree of legal separation rather than a decree of dissolution of marriage, the court shall grant the decree in that form unless the other party objects, in which latter event the other provisions of this chapter shall apply.
Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is the only grounds for legal separation (or divorce from bed and board) in Kentucky. The spouse filing for legal separation must have been a resident (or a member of the armed services stationed in Kentucky) for 180 days prior to filing.
The spouse filing for dissolution of marriage must have been a resident (or a member of the armed services stationed in Kentucky) for 180 days prior to filing. The dissolution of marriage may be filed in a county where either spouse usually resides.
The verified petition in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation shall allege the marriage is irretrievably broken and shall set forth:
- The age, occupation, Social Security number, and residence of each party and his length of residence in this state. If domestic violence and abuse is alleged by either party, the party filing the petition shall certify the existence and status of any domestic violence protective orders. The party filing the petition and alleging the abuse may substitute the party's attorney's address as the address of the party and any minor children;
- The date of the marriage and the place at which it was registered;
- That the parties are separated and the date on which the parties separated;
- The names, ages, Social Security numbers, and addresses of any living infant children of the marriage, and whether the wife is pregnant;
- Any arrangements as to custody, visitation, and support of the children and the maintenance of a spouse; and
The relief sought.
The proceeding may be initiated either or by both parties to the marriage. If a proceeding is commenced by one of the parties, the other party must be served in the manner provided by the Rules of Civil Procedure and may file a verified response. Previously existing defenses to divorce and legal separation, including but not limited to condonation, connivance, collusion, recrimination, insanity, and lapse of time, are abolished.
MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS
If one spouse disagrees that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court may delay the dissolution of marriage proceedings for 60 days and suggest the spouses seek counseling. In addition, at a spouse's request or on the court's own initiative, a conciliation conference may be ordered by the court.
To make the procedure simplified the parties must enter into marital settlement agreements and separation agreements are specifically authorized.
Kentucky is an "equitable distribution" state. The spouses are allowed to keep their separate property (property acquired before the marriage and any gifts or inheritances). All other property (their marital property) is divided, without regard to any marital misconduct, in just proportions, based on the following factors:
- the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker;
- the value of each spouse's separate property;
- the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home to the spouse awarded custody of any children;
- the length of the marriage; and
any retirement benefits.
Either spouse may be awarded maintenance if:
- that spouse lacks the property to provide for his or her own needs and
- that spouse is unable to find appropriate employment, or is unable to work because of obligations to care for children or others in his or her custody. Marital fault is not a factor to be considered.
The award is then based on the following factors:
- the time necessary to acquire sufficient education and training to enable the spouse to find appropriate employment, and that spouse's future earning capacity;
- the standard of living established during the marriage;
- the duration of the marriage;
- the ability of the spouse from whom support is sought to meet his or her needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking support;
- the financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to such spouse and such spouse's ability to meet his or her needs independently and any share of a child support award intended for the custodian; and
- the physical and emotional conditions of the spouses.
The court may award sole or joint custody, giving equal consideration to either spouse. Custody is awarded based on the best interests of the child and on the following factors:
- preference of the child;
- the wishes of the parents;
- the child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
- the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
- the relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and other significant family members;
- any evidence of domestic violence;
- whether the child has been cared for and/or supported by a non-parent primary caregiver; and
- the intent of the parent[s] in placing the child with a non-parent primary giver [ie., to avoid domestic violence, or to allow the parent to seek work or attend school, etc]. Any conduct of a parent that does not affect the relationship with the child is not to be considered. Abandonment of the family home by a parent is not to be considered if the parent fled due to physical harm or threats of physical harm by the other spouse.
Either or both parents may be ordered to provide a reasonable amount of child support, without regard to any marital misconduct, and based on the official Child Support Guidelines which are contained in the statute. These guidelines are presumed to be correct, but may be adjusted based on the following considerations:
- a child's extraordinary medical or dental needs;
- a child's extraordinary educational, job training, or special needs;
- either parent's extraordinary needs, such as medical expenses;
- the independent financial resources of the child;
- the combined parental income in excess of the Kentucky child support guidelines amounts;
- an agreement between the parents on child support, provided that no public assistance is being provided; and
- any other extraordinary circumstance. In addition, the court may order a parent to provide health care insurance coverage for the child.