When a couple marries, they usually plan to live in wedded bliss forever. However, not all marriages last forever. In those cases, couples decide to file for divorce or legal separation. A divorce is a legal ending of a marriage. A legal separation is a legal agreement ends the rights and responsibilities of a marriage. The results of a divorce and a separation are different. When a divorce is final, the spouses are no longer married. In a legal separation, the couple live separate lives but are still married.

Before you can file for divorce in Kentucky, you and your spouse must have a period of separation for at least 60 days. Kentucky law defines “period of separation” as:

  • Living in separate homes; or
  • Living in the same house without sexual cohabitation.

Kentucky does not require that spouse go to counseling before they file for divorce. However, a court may order the couple to seek counseling to determine if they can fix the marriage.

What Paperwork Do You Need to File for Divorce?

To file for divorce or legal separation in Kentucky:

  • You must be resident in Kentucky for 180 days before you file;
  • You must be a resident in the county in which you file; and
  • You must show that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

You must file a petition for divorce or a petition for legal separation with the Circuit Court. The Legal Aid of Kentucky website provides packets for spouses who want to file for divorce without using an attorney. There are separate packets for people seeking a divorce who have minor children and who do not have minor children. The packets contain more approximately 15 forms to complete and file. With a high amount of paperwork and time it takes for file for divorce or legal separation, you should hire an experienced divorce and separation attorney to handle to your case.

You do not need to let your spouse know that you are filing for divorce or separation before you file. However, you must notify your spouse after your file with the court. 

Community Property vs. Separate Property

Kentucky is a separate property state. Meaning that if you file for divorce or legal separation in a separate property state, the court distributes property by equitable distribution. Instead of splitting the property in half, equitable distribution using certain factors to decide what is fair to give to each spouse. The factors include:

  • What each spouse contributed to get the marital property;
  • The value of the property set apart to each spouse;
  • The length of the marriage; and
  • The financial circumstances of each spouse when the court divides the property.

The court must also decide with whether property of the spouses is marital property or separate property. Marital property is any property that the couples get during the marriage. Separate property is any property owns before the marriage, as well as property each receives as a gift, inheritance, or from a will.

Kentucky divorce and separation laws protect a spouse’s separate property by letting the spouse keep ownership of the property. Separate property is not a part of the equitable division of the marital property.

What Should You Do If There are Children Involved?

During a divorce or separation case, the judge can decide child custody and child support. The custody and support orders may be temporary or permanent. A court decides child custody based on the best interest of the minor child. The court may order full custody or shared custody. A judge determines which parent pays child support based on whether one or both parents has custody of the child. The state child support guidelines help to establish the amount of the support payments, which includes:

  • The child’s medical or dental needs;
  • The child educational, job training, or special needs;
  • Either parent’s own needs;
  • The child’s independent financial resources;
  • The combined income the parents; or
  • The agreement of child support payments between the parents.

Do You Need to Pay Alimony?

The court may decide during a divorce or legal separation case that one spouse must pay alimony to the other spouse. The spouse seeking alimony must prove:

  • You do not have enough property to provide for her reasonable needs; and
  • You are not able to support yourself through employment or you take care of a child which makes you unable to seek employment outside of the home. 

The court using the following factors to determine the amount of the alimony and how long the spouse receives payments:

  • The financial resources the spouse seeking alimony to independently take care of himself;
  • The time needed to get the education or training to get appropriate employment
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • The length of the marriage
  • The age, physical, and emotional state of the spouse seeking alimony; and
  • The ability of the paying spouse to take care of his own need while taking care of the spouse seeking alimony.

Where Can You Find the Right Divorce Lawyer?

The divorce and legal separation processes require a lot of time and legal knowledge. Let an experienced Kentucky divorce lawyer handle your divorce or separation case today.