Divorce in Kentucky is referred to as Dissolution of Marriage and as Divorce from the Bond of Matrimony.
One of the parties must reside in the state, or if a member of the armed forces, be stationed in the state, and that residence or military presence must have been maintained for 180 days immediately preceding the filing of the Petition.
The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage may be filed in circuit court.
In divorce actions where there are minor children of the marriage no testimony, other than on temporary motions, shall be taken or heard before 60 days have passed from the date of service of summons, the appointment of a warning order attorney or the filing of an entry of appearance or a responsive pleading by the Defendant, whichever occurs first.
The Rules of Civil Procedure apply to all divorce proceedings.
Upon request by a wife whose marriage is dissolved or declared invalid, the court may, and if there are no children of the parties shall, order her maiden name or a former name restored.
Kentucky is a no-fault state, with only one ground for divorce, irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
If both of the parties by petition or otherwise have stated under oath or affirmation that the marriage is irretrievably broken, or if one of the parties has stated it and the other one has not denied it, the court, after hearing, shall make a finding whether the marriage is irretrievably broken.
If one of the parties denies under oath or affirmation that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including the circumstances that led to the Petition, and the prospect for reconciliation.
The court will either make a finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken, or continue the matter for further hearing, no less than 30, nor more than 60 days later, or as soon after as possible. The court may suggest to the parties that they seek counseling.
The court, at the request of either party 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.
The Circuit Court shall enter a decree of dissolution of marriage if it 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.
The parties must live apart for at least 60 days before a decree may be entered. Living apart shall include living under the same roof without sexual cohabitation.
Void and Prohibited Marriages:
A court having general jurisdiction may declare the following marriages void:
If any resident of Kentucky marries in another state, the marriage shall be valid in Kentucky if valid in the state where solemnized, unless the marriage is against Kentucky public policy. A marriage between members of the same sex which occurs in another jurisdiction shall be void in Kentucky.
Where there is doubt as to the validity of a marriage, either party may petition the Circuit Court to either void or affirm the marriage. However if one party to a marriage was within the age of consent at the time of marriage, he/she may not bring such a proceeding against the underage party.
The Circuit Court shall enter its decree declaring the invalidity of a marriage entered into under the following circumstances:
A declaration of invalidity for these reasons may be sought by any of the following persons and must be commenced within the times specified:
In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation, the terms of a separation agreement, regarding division of property, are binding upon the court unless it finds, after considering the economic circumstances of the parties and any other relevant evidence produced by the parties, on their own motion or on request of the court, that the separation agreement is unconscionable.
If there is no agreement, the court shall determine distribution of property. It shall assign each spouse's property to him/her. Kentucky is an equitable distribution state, which means the court shall divide the marital property without regard to marital misconduct in just proportions considering all relevant factors, including the following:
Statute defines marital property as all property acquired by either spouse after the marriage and before a decree of legal separation regardless of how title is held, with the following exceptions:
If the retirement benefits of one spouse are excepted from classification as marital property, or not considered as an economic circumstance during the division of marital property, then the retirement benefits of the other spouse shall also be excepted, or not considered, as the case may be.
In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation, the terms of a separation agreement, regarding provisions for maintenance of either spouse, are binding upon the court unless it finds, after considering the economic circumstances of the parties and any other relevant evidence produced by the parties, on their own motion or on request of the court, that the separation agreement is unconscionable.
If there is no agreement, either party may move for temporary maintenance. The court may grant a maintenance order only if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance lacks sufficient property to provide for his reasonable needs and is unable to support him/herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home.
The court shall consider all relevant factors, including the following, to determine the amount of the maintenance order and for what period of time it shall be awarded:
The court shall determine custody in accordance with the best interests of the child and equal consideration shall be given to each parent and to any de facto custodian. The court shall consider all relevant factors including the following:
The court shall not consider conduct of a proposed custodian that does not affect his/her relationship to the child. If domestic violence and abuse is alleged, the court shall determine the extent to which the domestic violence and abuse has affected the child and the child's relationship to both parents.
The abandonment of the family residence by a custodial party shall not be considered when that party was physically harmed or was seriously threatened with physical harm by his/her spouse, when the harm or threat of harm was causally related to the abandonment.
The court may grant joint custody to the child's parents, or to the child's parents and a de facto custodian, if it is in the best interest of the child.
A parent not granted custody of the child is entitled to reasonable visitation rights unless the court finds, after a hearing, that visitation would seriously endanger the child's physical, mental, moral, or emotional health. Upon request of either party, the court shall issue orders which are specific as to the frequency, timing, duration, conditions, and method of scheduling visitation and which reflect the development age of the child.
If domestic violence and abuse has been alleged, after hearing, the court shall determine the visitation arrangement, if any, which would not endanger the child's or the custodian parent's physical, mental, or emotional health.
If a parent of a child is convicted of murder or manslaughter in the first degree of the other parent, a court shall not grant the convicted parent visitation rights with respect to that child unless the
court, through a hearing, determines that visitation is in the child's best interest
In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation either party, with notice to the opposing party, may move for temporary child support.
Kentucky uses the Income Shares Model to calculate child support obligations. The state's child support guidelines and table are provided in the revised statutes.
The child support obligation set forth in the child support guidelines table shall be divided between the parents in proportion to their combined monthly adjusted parental gross income. The child support obligation shall be the appropriate amount for the number of children in the table for whom the parents share a joint legal responsibility. The minimum amount of child support shall be $60 per month.
The court may use its judicial discretion in determining child support in circumstances where combined adjusted parental gross income exceeds the uppermost levels of the guidelines table.
In a split custody arrangement, each parent is the residential custodian for one or more children for whom the parents share a joint legal responsibility. The child support obligation in this arrangement shall be calculated in the following manner:
Unless otherwise agreed in writing or expressly provided in the decree, provisions for the support of a child shall terminate by emancipation of the child, unless he/she is a high student, when he/she reached the age of 18 years.
In cases where the child becomes emancipated because of age, but not due to marriage, while still a high school student, the court-ordered support shall continue while the child is a high school student, but not beyond completion of the school year during which the child reaches the age of 19 years.
Legal Separation, also referred to as divorce from bed and board may be granted for the same grounds as divorce from the bond of matrimony, or for any other cause that the court considers sufficient.
A divorce from bed and board treats property acquired afterward and the personal rights and legal capacities of the parties similar to a divorce from the bond of matrimony, except that neither party may remarry someone else 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.
If a party requests a decree of legal separation, the court shall grant the decree in that form unless the other party objects. If the other party objects, the court will proceed in the same manner as when a dissolution of marriage is sought.
A couple may enter into a written separation agreement containing provisions for maintenance of either spouse, disposition of any property owned by either of them, and when applicable, custody, support and visitation of their children.
No earlier than one year after entry of a decree of legal separation, the court on motion of either party shall convert the decree to a decree of dissolution of marriage.
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