Divorce is one of life’s most challenging experiences. The decision to end a marriage is never easy, and the process can be overwhelming, especially when you don’t know what to expect. If you are considering divorce or have already filed in Kentucky, it’s crucial to understand how divorce works and how you can best prepare for the road ahead. 

At Berkley Oliver, PLLC, our experienced family law attorneys are here to guide you through this difficult time, providing the knowledge, support, and representation you need to protect your rights and interests.

The Divorce Process in Kentucky 

Kentucky is a “no-fault” divorce state. The only grounds for divorce are that one or both parties in the marriage believe it is irretrievably broken. When you’ve reached this point and decide to file for divorce, you must not sexually cohabit with your spouse for sixty days before you can file.

An additional filing requirement is that one spouse must live in Kentucky for at least six months. In most cases, the wife cannot be pregnant, but if she is, the divorce will likely not be granted until she gives birth or the pregnancy is terminated.

The divorce process in Kentucky begins with one party filing a petition and serving the respondent. The petitioner is the spouse who initiates the divorce, while the respondent is the other spouse who must respond to the petition. If the respondent does not respond within the required timeframe, the case may proceed by default. That means the court may grant the divorce without the respondent’s input.

Sometimes, temporary orders may be necessary to address immediate issues like child custody, child support, or financial support for one of the spouses. These orders are intended to maintain stability and ensure the family’s needs are met during the divorce process.

The discovery phase is essential to the divorce process. During the pre-trial period, both parties can gather information from the other about financial assets, debts, and other relevant factors. This information is crucial for negotiating a settlement that is fair to both parties or providing the court with a complete picture of the marital assets and debts so they can make a fair distribution.

Settlement negotiations are often the next step, where the couple and their attorneys work to reach an agreement on the various aspects of the divorce, such as property division, child custody, and support. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will go to court, where a judge will make the final decision.

Key Considerations in a Kentucky Divorce

Division of assets and debts: Kentucky follows the principle of equitable distribution, which means that marital property is not necessarily divided equally but will be divided fairly. “Marital property” includes assets and debts either party acquired during the marriage, no matter which spouse’s name is on the title. Separate property, such as assets owned before the marriage or inherited while the couple was married, is generally not subject to division. Working with an attorney who can help you identify and protect your assets throughout the divorce process is essential.

  • Child custody and visitation: When children are involved, the court’s primary concern is their best interests. The court will consider factors such as each parent’s relationship with the children, their ability to provide a stable home environment, and their needs. In 2018, Kentucky laws changed so that joint custody is the default custody arrangement. In joint custody, both parents share decision-making responsibilities. However, where the situation warrants it, sole custody may sometimes be awarded. A parenting plan will be established to outline each parent’s responsibilities and visitation schedule, ensuring that the children maintain meaningful relationships with both parents whenever possible.
  • Child support: Kentucky has guidelines to calculate child support based on factors such as each parent’s income, the number of children involved, and the time each parent spends with the children. These guidelines help ensure that children’s financial needs are met and that support obligations are fair and consistent. Sometimes, deviations from the guidelines may be necessary based on the family’s unique circumstances.
  • Maintenance (spousal support): Maintenance may be awarded in Kentucky in two specific circumstances. If the spouse has insufficient assets to provide for themselves and either can’t support themselves with work or is responsible for the care of a child whose condition makes working outside the home inappropriate, maintenance can be awarded. If maintenance is to be awarded, the court will consider factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial resources, how long it would take for the receiving spouse to acquire enough education or training to be self-supporting, and the ability of the payor spouse to meet their own needs while paying their former spouse. 

How Berkley Oliver PLLC, Can Help 

At Berkley Oliver PLLC, we understand that divorce is a deeply emotional experience. Our compassionate and knowledgeable family law attorneys are dedicated to providing the guidance and support you need during this challenging time. We take the time to listen to your worries, answer your questions, and develop a strategy tailored to your unique needs and goals.

Our team is passionate about negotiating fair settlements for our clients. However, we also recognize that not all cases can be settled amicably. When necessary, we can provide aggressive representation in court, fighting tirelessly to protect your rights and interests.

We will work closely with you throughout the divorce process to ensure you understand your options and feel empowered to make informed decisions about your future. We will guide you through the complex legal system, handle the necessary paperwork, and advocate in negotiations and court on your behalf.

Contact Our Shelbyville Divorce Attorney

If you are facing divorce in Kentucky, don’t face the legal process alone. Contact Berkley Oliver PLLC today for a case evaluation, and let us help. We’ve been helping people with their family law needs since 2017. With our experience, dedication, and compassionate approach, you can trust that your case is in capable hands.