Area of Law:
Filing for divorce is never an easy decision. To begin a divorce proceeding in Kentucky, file a petition for dissolution of marriage with the local county court. The spouse filing the petition is the petitioner, and the other spouse is the respondent. In Kentucky, one spouse must be a resident of the state for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. In addition, at least one spouse must be a resident of the county where the divorce petition is filed for at least three months. After the petitioner files the divorce petition, the petitioner must provide a copy to the respondent. You can obtain a divorce petition from the Legal Aid of Kentucky’s website http://kyjustice.org/divorceforms.
Kentucky is a no-fault divorce state, meaning the spouses do not need to establish one spouse’s wrongdoing to be eligible to file for divorce. Instead, most petitioners cite that the marriage is irretrievably broken in the divorce petition. In addition, Kentucky has a 60-day waiting period from the filing of the divorce petition before the divorce can become final. The state of Kentucky also requires that you and your spouse live separately for at least 60 days before the divorce decree becomes final in Kentucky.
The court charges a filing fee at the time you submit your divorce petition to the court for filing. The filing fee varies by county and you should check with the court regarding the exact filing fee for your county. The Kentucky court accepts payment in the form of cash, money order, or certified check. If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you can ask the court to waive the cost. If the judge decides that you qualify for assistance, then you do not have to pay for your divorce. In addition, if you have children with your spouse, the court may require you and your spouse to attend the Families in Transition course. This course provides information about how to assist children during a divorce.
One issue that may arise during the divorce is the division of marital assets. Marital assets are assets acquired during the marriage. In Kentucky, the court divides the marital assets on a 50-50% basis. However, the court has the discretion to award one spouse more than half, if the court feels that it is necessary to reach a fair result. In addition, the court awards each spouse their own separate property. Separate property is property a spouse acquires either before the marriage or during the marriage because of a gift or bequest. The court will also distribute the marital debts during a divorce.
If you and your spouse can agree about the division of the marital property, consider drafting a marital settlement agreement. In Kentucky, the court does not need to approve the marital settlement agreement for it to become effective. However, agreeing on settlement terms is often the hardest part of a divorce proceeding. Therefore, the court may recommend both spouses attend mediation to try to resolve any contested issues.
If you have additional questions regarding how to file for divorce, contact your local courthouse. For example, if you live in Louisville, you can visit the Jefferson County Judicial Center’s website http://courts.ky.gov/counties/Jefferson/jeffersonfamilycourt.htm for additional assistance.