A Summary of Kentucky Divorce Laws

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Grounds for Divorce Under Kentucky Divorce Laws

Divorce Laws Specifically for the State of Kentucky

Kentucky provides for only one ground upon which a divorce is granted and it is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage with no reasonable chance of reconciliation.

Residency Requirements

In order to file for divorce in Kentucky, at least one of you must have resided in the state for a period of one hundred and eighty (180) days prior to the commencement of the action.

Where to File

The petition for dissolution of marriage may be filed in the county where either spouse resides.

Waiting Period

Kentucky divorce laws require that you and your spouse live separate and apart for sixty (60) days before a divorce will be issued. Living separate and apart does not mean that you have to move out, however; it simply means you cannot have sex with your soon-to-be ex for that period of time.

Separation Agreements

Kentucky permits the parties to enter into written separation agreements in order to promote amicable settlements of disputes.

Such agreements may contain provisions for the maintenance of either spouse, disposition of any property owned by either of them, and custody, support and visitation issues regarding their children. The terms of such an agreement are binding upon the parties and the court, unless the court finds that the agreement is unconscionable, in which case the court may request the parties to submit a revised separation agreement or make its own orders regarding those issues.

Legal Separation

The court may render a decree of divorce from bed and board (meaning one person must leave the marital home) for any grounds that a decree of dissolution of marriage may be issued or for any other cause the court deems sufficient.

Mediation Requirements

If one spouse denies under oath that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court may make a finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken or continue the matter for further hearing not fewer than thirty (30) days or more than sixty (60) days later.


The court may award temporary or permanent alimony to either spouse upon a showing that: the spouse seeking alimony lacks sufficient property to provide for his/her reasonable needs; and is unable to support himself/herself through appropriate employment, or is the custodian of a child whose condition is such that seeking employment would not be appropriate.

Factors the court will consider in determining the amount and duration of the award of support include such things as

  • The financial resources of the party seeking support
  • The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the person seeking support to find appropriate employment
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age, physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking support
  • The ability of the paying spouse to meet his needs while meeting the needs of the spouse seeking support

Distribution of Property

After determining what each of you brought into the marriage, the court will then divide the rest of the property between you in a manner that it deems fair and just, taking into consideration the following factors:

  • The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property
  • The value of the property set aside to each spouse
  • The duration of the marriage and
  • The economic circumstances of each spouse when the division of property becomes effective

Child Custody

The court will determine custody based upon the best interests of the child with equal consideration given to each spouse (that is to say, you should not lose points for being the father, in this case). The court will consider relevant factors such as:

  • The wishes of the child
  • The interaction of the child with his parents and siblings
  • The child’s adjustment to his home, school and community
  • The mental and physical health of all parties concerned

The court may interview the child regarding his/her wishes, and the court may seek the advice of a professional to assist in reaching a decision on those issues.

A parent not granted custody of the child is entitled to reasonable visitation rights unless the court makes a specific finding that such visitation would not be in the child’s best interests under Kentucky divorce laws.

No custody decree may be modified any earlier than two (2) years after its date, unless the court finds that the child’s present environment may seriously endanger his physical, mental or emotional health or the child has been placed with a de facto custodian. The party seeking to modify the custody decree must submit to the court an affidavit setting forth the facts supporting the modification and must provide notice to the opposing party.

Child Support

Kentucky has established child support guidelines, which serve as the presumed correct amount of support to be paid. Courts may deviate from these guidelines only upon a specific showing that the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate.

The obligation to provide child support shall end once the child is eighteen (18) years old unless that child is still in high school. If the child turns eighteen (18) while still in high school, the support obligation shall continue until the completion of the school year in which the child turns nineteen (19) years old.

If healthcare coverage is reasonable and available, the court shall allocate between the parties, in proportion to their adjusted gross income, the cost of healthcare coverage for the child. If coverage is not reasonable and available, the court shall order that such coverage be provided at the time it becomes reasonable and available.

A child support award may only be modified upon a showing of a material change of circumstances which would result in a fifteen percent (15%) change in the amount of support paid.

Name Change

Kentucky divorce laws allow the wife to return to her former or maiden name, upon request, if there are no children of the marriage.


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