Kentucky Divorce Laws

If you live in Kentucky and are considering divorce, you likely have a lot of questions. Finding the answers to these questions will help you make the right decision for yourself in the future.

Who Can File for Divorce and On What Grounds

The first step in filing for divorce in Kentucky is meeting the state’s residency requirements. The court requires that at least one of the individuals in the marriage live in the state for 180 prior to filing for divorce.

In Kentucky, in order to file for divorce, you must state that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. If both parties agree to the fact and are willing to state such under oath, there is no question. If only one party is willing to claim this, the courts will make the decision after hearing both sides of the story. The courts will not grant a decree of divorce until the couple has lived apart without sexual cohabitation for at least 60 days.

Those who live Kentucky because they are in the military and are stationed there will meet the residency requirements the same as a regular resident of the state. That said, military individuals will often benefit from working with an attorney to ensure that they follow all military family law which applies to their situation even when filing in Kentucky.

Division of Property

Kentucky follows the equitable distribution model for distributing property. This allows the property to be divided based on what the court deems is fair, not necessarily equal. If the couple cannot reach an out-of-court settlement, then the following factors will be considered:

  • Contribution each spouse made to the acquisition of the marital property, with consideration given to the acts of the homemaker
  • Property’s value
  • Length of the marriage
  • Economic circumstances the spouses have once the divorce is complete, including whether or not the court wants to award the family home to the parent who has custody of the children

Marital property is divided without regard to marital misconduct.

Child Custody

In cases involving parents of minor children, the courts sometimes have to step in and determine who will have custodial responsibilities for the children. When this happens, the following factors will be considered:

  • The parent’s wishes and the wishes of any de facto custodian
  • The child’s wishes
  • Relationship between the child and the parents, siblings, and any other person who has a direct role in determining the child’s best interests
  • The child’s adjustment to community, home, and school
  • Mental and physical health for all involved
  • Records or evidence of domestic violence in the home
  • Any care or nurture provided by a de facto custodian
  • The reason the parents placed the child with the de facto custodian
  • Circumstances requiring the child to remain in the custody of the de fact custodian, including whether the parent was fleeing a domestic violence situation or so that the parent could look for work or attend school

Any conduct of a parent or proposed custodian that does not affect the relationship with the child is not considered. Also, if a parent is guilty of abandoning the family residence but the reason was the threat of physical harm from the other spouse, that abandonment will not be considered.


In some cases the courts will determine that one spouse aught to pay support to the other. Factors used in determining this may include:

  • Lack of property for the recipient of maintenance
  • Inability to support himself through employment
  • Length of marriage
  • Financial resources of the party seeking maintenance
  • Age, physical, and emotional condition of both parties
  • Time required for the supported party to receive training in order to find employment
  • Standard of living set forth in the marriage
  • Ability of the supporting spouse to meet his or her own needs while providing support

If the courts deem child support is necessary, the amount will be chosen based on the Income Shares Model. This divides the support proportionately based on each parent’s income under the supposition that both parents should provide some measure of support for the child.