This article will explain the nature of an uncontested divorce and Kentucky uncontested divorce law. If you still have any questions after reading this article or would like to file for an uncontested divorce, you should consult with an experienced divorce attorney.
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Uncontested Divorce in Kentucky Defined
Unlike many states, no specific law allows for uncontested divorce proceedings in Kentucky.However, the rules of the Family Court of Kentucky rules allow for an uncontested divorce, also known as a divorce by agreement. An uncontested Kentucky divorce is essentially a simplified divorce process which allows spouses who agree on all of the issues in their divorce to expedite their divorce filings.
The most important requirement of an uncontested Kentucky divorce is that the spouses agree on all of the issues in the divorce. In a normal contested divorce, a judge must hear evidence and make a ruling about the divorce. When a divorce is uncontested, however, the spouses’ agreement is substituted for the judge’s ruling if the agreement is fair.
Requirements for Seeking a Kentucky Uncontested Divorce
To file for uncontested divorce in Kentucky, the filing spouses must meet certain requirements. Any questions about these requirements can be answered by an experienced Kentucky divorce attorney or family lawyer.
The first requirement for seeking an uncontested Kentucky divorce is residence. At least one of the spouses must have resided within Kentucky for at least 180 days prior to filing for divorce in Kentucky court.1
The second requirement for couples seeking an uncontested divorce is that they must satisfy the grounds for divorce. Kentucky is a no-fault divorce state, which essentially means that all the spouses need to do is make a sworn statement that the marriage is irretrievably broken.2
The third and final requirement for an uncontested divorce is agreement. As mentioned above, the Kentucky family court rules allow spouses to seek an uncontested divorce by agreeing to the terms of the divorce. This is accomplished by filing a legally-binding separation agreement with the court.3
On Spousal Support and Separation Agreements
When spouses sit down to discuss the terms of their divorce, it is often beneficial for the spouses to sign a legal separation agreement. A separation agreement is NOT a formal divorce. A separation agreement is a contract between spouses that lays out their agreement and terms of their separation. A fully completed separation agreement can serve as the basis for an uncontested divorce, and may be helpful in filling out the required divorce paperwork. Prior to signing any separation agreement (or any contract with your spouse), you should have an experienced attorney review the terms of the contract for you.
The separation agreement should generally be written and signed by both parties. However, Kentucky does also allow oral separation agreements where both parties simply speak to the court and a court reporter what terms they want (this is extremely uncommon, however, and a written agreement is normally preferred).4
A fully-completed separation agreement should address each of the following issues in the divorce:
- Division of the property the couples shared (this would include the marital residence, vehicles, and pets);
- Division of any debt obligations between the couple jointly;
- The effect of any tax consequences of the divorce;
- Spousal support (also known as alimony or spousal maintenance);
- Payment of attorneys’ fees and costs; and
- If applicable, child custody, visitation and parenting plans, and child support.
If the parties cannot resolve all of the agreements, Kentucky Family Court rules allow for a partially-uncontested divorce proceeding in which the couple submits a partially-completed separation agreement and the court rules only on any remaining contested issues.5
The Process for Filing for an Uncontested Divorce in Kentucky
Once you and your spouse have decided to file for an uncontested divorce, the general flow of the process is as follows:
- This step is optional, but you should begin by consulting a family law attorney who can either answer any questions that you may have, or who can help you file your divorce paperwork properly.
- If you and your spouse wish to file for a divorce without the assistance of an attorney, you should first discuss the terms of your separation. Once you have reached a fair agreement, you should reduce that agreement to a legally-binding separation contract.
- Next, you will need to fill out the divorce paperwork. For couples filing for divorce without the assistance of an attorney, the Kentucky Supreme Court recommends the seeking divorce forms from a Bar Association sponsored self-help divorce clinic. Forms are normally no more than $10. For more information, see the Kentucky Court of Justice website.6
- You will then need to file your divorce paperwork in the proper court. You must file with the Family Court in the county in which either spouse usually resides.7
- The filing spouse will need to file a verified petition for dissolution of marriage. Kentucky divorce petitions must be filed very specifically, so reference the Kentucky divorce petition statute to make sure it includes all of the right information.8 If there are minor children involved, you must also provide information about your children (described in the statute).9 To verify your petition for dissolution of marriage, you must sign and notarize it.
- Once you file the complaint, a summons will be issued and you will need to serve copies of the divorce paperwork on your spouse. The easiest way to serve your spouse is by sending the divorce paperwork by certified mail, although you can also deliver the copies to a police officer or sheriff for personal delivery.
- The responding spouse will need to file a verified answer. Don’t forget to include child-related information in the answer.10
- Once all of the divorce paperwork is properly filed, file an Agreed Order to Submit for Decree of Dissolution of Marriage with the court along with your separation agreement.
- Wait! Kentucky has two different waiting periods, but they both run at the same time. First, is the post-service waiting period. The court cannot rule on your divorce until at least twenty days until after service of process (or 60 days if minor children are involved. Second, is the separation waiting period. The court cannot rule on your divorce until you have been separated from your spouse for at least sixty days (this time period can begin before the couple files for divorce). Separation is not defined by physical location, but rather by the date of the last sexual relation between the parties.11
Once the waiting period has expired, the court will approve your decree of dissolution at the final court hearing.
Note: This article is not legal advice. Please consult a lawyer for your specific situation.
- KRS 403.140(1)(a).
- KRS 403.150.
- FCRPP 3(1)(a).
- Calloway v. Calloway, 707 S.W.2d 789 (Ky. Ct. App. 1986).
- FCRPP 3(1)(c).
- Divorce Education, KENTUCKY COURT OF JUSTICE, .
- KRS 452.470.
- KRS 403.150.
- KRS 403.838.
- KRS 403.838.
- KRS 403.170(1).