Kentucky: Filing Divorce Papers

Marital dissolution, or divorce, in Kentucky, is a court process that allows married couples to sever their bonds of matrimony and determine their rights regarding marital property, debts, payments for child support and spousal maintenance, and the status of any minor children.

Getting a Divorce

Couples decide on a divorce for a multitude of reasons. For example, a spouse may have committed adultery; one of the parties may have been abusive; a spouse may have committed a crime and is incarcerated; or the parties may simply agree they are no longer compatible and there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the relationship. No other grounds need to be alleged in Kentucky.

Legal Separation

In some cases, you and your spouse may decide on a legal separation, which has all the characteristics of a divorce except that you are still legally married. All issues regarding child support or spousal maintenance, child custody and visitation, and equitable division of the marital assets, property and debts remain relevant and are decided by the court if the parties are unable to agree.


Another option is annulment, or a finding that your marriage never legally existed. In Kentucky, you may be granted an annulment if you were induced into marriage by fraud; if the marriage is incestuous; if one party is mentally disabled; or if you or your spouse was still legally married to others when you married. You must file your petition for annulment within 90 days of discovering the applicable grounds.

Kentucky Filing Requirements

Before you can file for divorce, the court must have a jurisdictional basis to rule on your case. One of the parties must have resided in Kentucky for 180 days before filing a divorce petition. And if you have minor children, they must have lived in the state for 180 days and in the jurisdiction within six months of filing the petition. There is a 60-day waiting period for divorces with minor children before the court will grant your divorce decree, but there is no specific waiting requirement for divorces with no minor children.

You may file either the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage With Children Under 18, or Petition with No children Under 18, in the county where you or your spouse resides. This document states the jurisdiction, the grounds for the divorce, the terms requested, and the five-year residential history of the minor children.

Should the dissolution be contested, the respondent has 20 days to file a response to the petition. If uncontested, the respondent files a waiver of appearance form and states that he is agreeable to the dissolution.

Mandatory Disclosure

Similar to a financial affidavit, this document provides a listing of the petitioner’s assets, debts, and joint and separate marital property. The disclosure form must be notarized. A disclosure acknowledgment form is signed by the respondent, which must also be notarized. It attests to the accuracy of the information stated on the petitioner’s mandatory disclosure form.

Mandatory Parenting Class

Kentucky mandates that couples with children under 18 take and complete a minimum four-hour parenting class, which may be taken online.

Property and Debt Distribution

Kentucky is an equitable distribution state, so the marital property, assets, and debts are divided based on what is considered fair rather than dividing them equally. A court will first decide what property is nonmarital and then divide the marital property based on a number of factors. The court considers the duration of the marriage, the relative contributions of the parties, their economic circumstances, and the value of the property to each spouse. There is no consideration of any alleged misconduct of either spouse

Contact a Kentucky Divorce Lawyer

State laws determining how divorce and its many issues are handled are complex and differ from state to state. Speak with a Kentucky divorce lawyer to see how state laws affect your case and to ensure that your rights and best interests are adequately represented.

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