Divorce laws in Kentucky are the same for same-sex unions and heterosexual couples, including the right to marry and divorce. Same-sex marriages have been recognized since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015. Before this date, there were several attempts to recognize marriages legally obtained in other states. At present, the state law bounds all courts to issue marriage licenses and all judges to grant any gay divorce in Kentucky.
Same-sex divorce in Kentucky is possible only for officially married spouses. Since the state does not support a common-law marriage, couples cannot use the legal system for marriage dissolution issues. Only the couples who meet the residency requirements and have a marriage certificate can file for same-sex divorce in Kentucky.
Same-sex divorce online
Same-sex couples who file for divorce in Kentucky can opt for a divorce over the Internet if they can agree on critical issues such as spousal and child support, custody, and property division. Do-it-yourself divorces without a lawyer have gained lasting popularity because they are fast, easy, and more affordable than traditional ways.
Many Internet resources offer their help in the preparation of same-sex divorce paperwork in Kentucky without an attorney. kentuckyonlinedivorce.com, being one of the most reliable such websites, guides its clients through the process of registration and input of the necessary information to collect and provide them with court-approved printable documents. The website asks a small fee of $139 for same-sex divorce papers in Kentucky.
Same-sex divorce papers in Kentucky
Any divorce process in Kentucky for same-sex couples begins when spouses file a package of required documents with the court. There are no standardized forms for all counties, so it can be challenging to prepare them without specific knowledge. Either a lawyer (if you hire one) will explain to you how to file a same-sex divorce in Kentucky and gather all required papers, or you can do it by yourself if you have an uncontested divorce.
Typical same-sex divorce forms in Kentucky include a petition for marriage dissolution, civil summons, and case data information sheets. You may need additional documents if you have particular aims. They include temporary orders for maintenance and custody or a waiver of court filing fees.
Valid grounds for same-sex divorce in Kentucky
Under Kentucky law, the Circuit Court can enter a decree for marriage dissolution if one of the spouses meet the residency requirements. One of them must have resided in Kentucky for 180 days preceding the action for marriage dissolution. Also, both the petitioner (the spouse filing for divorce) and the respondent (the other party) must state under oath that their marriage is irretrievably broken (KY Rev Stat § 403.170). Since Kentucky is a no-fault state, all fault-based grounds have been abolished, and an irretrievable breakdown is the only reason to end a marriage. It means that same-sex couples can file for divorce in Kentucky without proving anyone’s guilt.
Custody of the Child
Spouses with children can get a same-sex divorce in Kentucky no sooner than the court determines child custody and visitation schedule. Each legal parent (either biological or adoptive) has equal rights to be appointed as a primary custodian. Family law in Kentucky, supporting children’s best interests, encourages joint custody if neither parent has committed child abuse, domestic violence, or other dangerous behavior that influences their relationship to the child.
The court will determine the custody arrangements according to the child’s best interest and all relevant factors (KY Rev Stat § 403.270):
- the wishes of the parents and a child;
- the relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and other significant individuals;
- the child’s adjustments to their home, school, and community;
- the mental and physical health of all parties;
- the instances of domestic violence;
- other factors.
There are no mandatory requirements for parents to attend a parenting class in a marriage dissolution process, but the court may order it anyway. The duration and content of educational sessions may vary, but all of them help parents reduce the stress for their children and prevent behavioral problems.
Every minor child on behalf of their custodial parent or a guardian receives child support payments for everyday expenses, including food, transportation, clothing, and education. The court allocates this obligation between the parents according to their share in monthly gross income.
This obligation is determined according to a table established in child support guidelines (KY Rev Stat § 403.212). The table includes multiple rows of adjusted monthly gross income and columns for the number of children from 1 to 6 or more. For instance, if your combined income is $1,000 and you have two children, they will receive $303 each.
The minimal amount of child support is $60 per child. If the parental gross income is higher than the upper level in the table, the court will determine the amount of child support at its discretion. The child support obligation is terminated by the child’s emancipation or due to age (18 years old) unless they are 18 and still in high school.
In any divorce proceeding, a judge upon request will award financial support from one spouse to another. Several conditions justify support, including if the requesting spouse lacks sufficient property, cannot support themselves or is a custodian of a child whose circumstances do not allow the parent to be employed outside the home.
A judge determines the amount and duration of maintenance considering all important factors (KY Rev Stat § 403.200):
- economic circumstances, financial resources, and property of the spouse seeking maintenance and their ability to meet their needs independently;
- the standard of living during the marriage;
- the duration of the marriage;
- the time necessary to receive education and training and find suitable employment;
- the age and physical and emotional health of the party seeking support;
- the ability of a paying spouse to meet their needs while paying maintenance.
The obligation of one spouse to pay maintenance terminates when the other party remarries or dies. Also, each party can apply for a modification of the support order if they can show a substantial change of circumstances that require other arrangements for maintenance.
Any divorce for same-sex couples in Kentucky includes the division of marital property between the spouses. If they have a prenuptial, post-nuptial, or settlement agreement like the one needed for uncontested marriage dissolution, the distribution process will proceed according to the contract’s terms. Marital property includes everything that each spouse has acquired during the marriage except inheritances, gifts, and the increase in such property’s value. The retirement benefits of both spouses can be excluded from the division.
But how is property divided for same-sex couples that cannot reach an agreement before they start the marriage dissolution procedure? According to local rules, a judge will divide assets and debts without regard to marital misconduct considering the following factors (KY Rev Stat § 403.190):
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition and preservation of marital property;
- The length of the marriage;
- Value of property assigned to each spouse;
- The financial circumstances of each party after the property division;
- And the desire to award the house to a spouse who has custody over any children.
Mediation as an alternative way to resolve disputes between the parties is widely used in civil cases. Any individual married to a same-sex partner can get a divorce in Kentucky utilizing this method to avoid a divorce trial. Mediation is facilitated by a neutral third person called a mediator. The mediator is trained to help the spouses communicate and reach an amicable agreement on disputed issues. The process is quick, inexpensive, and, most importantly — confidential.
Mediation is usually less stressful and contentious than open litigation. The time needed for negotiating a settlement agreement does not usually exceed a few hours (sessions). It all depends on the complexity of the issues and the willingness of the parties to find compromises. If the spouses cannot find a joint resolution before the next court hearing, they have to go to trial where a judge will decide the outcome of the case at his or her discretion.
Filing fees for same-sex divorce in Kentucky
Any couple who wishes to file for divorce in Kentucky and dissolve their same-sex marriage must pay a filing fee of $150 at the county clerk’s office. This fee is mandatory for all marriage dissolution cases and can be paid via cash, certified check, or money order. If a person cannot afford to pay it, he or she can ask for a waiver. It requires a particular form called IFP (In Forma Pauperis) and some financial information that proves the inability to pay.
The decision of how to serve your spouse also affects the cost. Depending on the method used to deliver the copies of a petition and summons (a sheriff’s office or a process server), you will pay an additional $20-$50.
How long will it take
Kentucky has a 60-day waiting period between filing a petition and obtaining a final decree. During this period, the spouses must live separately. Therefore, the length of the divorce process is at least 60 days, but usually, it takes a little longer. Uncontested cases are typically resolved in 3-6 months, whereas contested cases last from 6 months to several years.
Serving the documents to an out-of-state spouse also adds to the period needed for a marriage dissolution process, especially if their whereabouts are unknown. You may need to search for your spouse first, and only after your diligent efforts have failed can you use a service by publication.