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.
Legal Grounds for Divorce
- No Fault Divorce: Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. A final dissolution of marriage will not be granted until the spouses have lived apart for 60 days. (“Living apart” includes living in the same house but not sharing sex).
- General Divorce: Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is the only grounds for dissolution of marriage in Kentucky.
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.
Divorce Mediation or Counseling Requirements
If 1 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.
Divorce Property Distribution
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
- Any retirement benefits
Alimony and Spousal Support
Either spouse may be awarded maintenance if:
- That spouse lacks the property to provide for his or her own needs
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Any other extraordinary circumstance