Divorce – State FAQ – Kentucky
Grounds for divorce
Q: What is meant by “grounds for divorce”?
A: A “ground” for divorce is a “reason” for divorce. A set of judicially recognized reasons for divorce exist in Kentucky. You must use one or more of these reasons to justify your divorce.
Q: What are the recognized grounds for divorce in Kentucky?
A: The only ground upon which divorce is granted in the Commonwealth of Kentucky is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage of which there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
Q: What does the term “spousal support” (or, “alimony”) mean?
A: “Spousal support” (sometimes called “alimony”) is money paid by one spouse to the other due to the payee spouse’s loss of the benefit of the payor spouse’s income due to the divorce.
Q: Is spousal support available while the divorce is pending in court, or only after the divorce has become final?
A: The court may order that one spouse support the other during the pendancy of the divorce action and/or after the divorce has become final. Support awarded pending the final decree of divorce is not to extend beyond the period of time necessary for the prosecution of the divorce action.
Q: What factors will the court consider when determining how much alimony to award to a party?
A: 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, and; the ability of the payor spouse to meet his needs while meeting the needs of the spouse seeking support.
Q: On what basis does the court decide how marital property is divided?
A: Kentucky is a so-called “equitable distribution” state. This means that the division of property and debts between the divorcing parties should be fair and equitable, but not necessarily equal. After allocating to each spouse property which the court deems to be “separate property,” the remaining property will be divided between the spouses in as fair and equitable a manner as possible.
Q: What is the “separate property” of one spouse that is not subject to being divided up?
A: The question here is whether property “belonging to” one of the parties should be included in the marital estate for purposes of an equitable division. Generally, separate property acquired before the marriage or by gift or inheritance during the marriage may be excluded from the marital estate if neither the property nor its income has been used for the common benefit of the parties during their marriage.
Q: What if the parties occasionally use an item of separate property (for example, silver table utensils inherited by the wife) for the benefit of both parties?
A: The property may be subject to division. Where the parties regularly use property acquired by one party before marriage for the common benefit of the parties, it is more likely to be available for consideration in dividing property. The frequency of use may be considered by the court in making the decision.
Child custody and visitation
Q: What is child custody and visitation?
A: “Child custody” refers to which parent will have legal custody of the child(ren), i.e. with whom the child(ren) will live. “Visitation” is the topic of the non custodial parent’s ability to visit/spend time with the child(ren).
Q: If the parents cannot agree on child custody and visitation issues, on what basis will the court decide?
A: The court may award custody to either parent, regardless of sex, subject to the best interests of the child. The court will determine custody based upon the best interests of the child. Equal consideration of each spouse will be given in making the custody determination. Some of the factors the court will consider in making the custody determination include: 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, and; the mental and physical health of all parties concerned.
Q: What is “child support”?
A: Child support is money paid by the non custodial parent to the custodial parent in order to meet the needs of the child(ren).
Q: To what should the parties look for guidance regarding amount of child support to be paid? What standard will the court use if the parties cannot agree?
A: 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.
Q: When does the obligation to pay child support expire?
A: The obligation to provide child support shall terminate upon the emancipation of the minor child unless the child is eighteen (18) years old and 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.