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Our team of experienced family law attorneys is dedicated to helping you navigate through complex legal matters. We understand the emotional challenges you may be facing and are here to provide you with personalized guidance and support. Whether you need assistance with divorce, child custody, child support, modifications, or domestic violence issues, we have the knowledge and expertise to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.

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Kentucky FAQs

Providing personalized legal solutions for your family's needs.

How long does it take to get divorced?

The length of time it takes to get divorced can vary depending on various factors. In general, there is no specific timeline for finalizing a divorce. However, there are certain requirements that must be met before a divorce decree can be entered.  

According to KRS 403.170(1), the parties must be separated, in the statutory sense, for at least 60 days before the decree can be issued to dissolve the marriage. This separation period applies to all parties seeking a divorce, regardless of whether they have minor children.  

It's important to note that the 60-day separation requirement is a minimum timeframe and does not necessarily mean that the divorce will be finalized within that timeframe. The actual duration of the divorce process can vary significantly depending on various factors, including the complexity of the case and the level of cooperation between the parties.  

In cases where the divorce becomes contested, meaning that the parties are unable to reach an agreement on key issues, the timeline can be extended. Contested divorces often involve litigation and can range from approximately eight months to several years of legal proceedings.

The duration of a divorce case can be influenced by several factors, including:
1. Complexity of the Case: If the divorce involves complex financial matters, significant assets, or disputes over child custody and support, it may take longer to reach a resolution.

2. Level of Cooperation: The willingness of both parties to cooperate and work towards a mutually acceptable resolution can significantly impact the timeline. If there is a high level of conflict and disagreement, it may prolong the process.

3. Court Availability: The availability of court dates and the caseload of the court can also affect the timeline. Courts may have limited availability, leading to delays in scheduling hearings and proceedings.

4. Negotiation and Mediation: Parties who are able to engage in effective negotiation or alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, may be able to reach a resolution more efficiently, potentially shortening the overall timeline.  

It's important to consult with an experienced family law attorney to understand the specific factors that may impact the timeline of your divorce case. They can provide guidance based on the unique circumstances of your situation and help you navigate the legal process.

What is an uncontested divorce in Kentucky?

An uncontested divorce in Kentucky refers to a divorce case that has reached a resolution without the need for a trial or further litigation. There are two main ways in which a divorce case can become uncontested.

The first way is when the Respondent, the party who did not initiate the divorce, fails to respond or participate in the legal proceedings. This is known as being in default. When the Respondent is in default, it means they have not filed a response or appeared in court within the specified time frame. In such cases, the court may proceed with the divorce based on the petitioner's requests and the evidence presented.

The second way a divorce case can become uncontested is when the parties involved reach an agreement on all the issues within the divorce case. This typically involves the parties executing a written separation agreement that settles matters such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and the division of assets and debts. By reaching a written agreement, the parties are able to resolve their differences and avoid the need for a trial or further legal proceedings.

It's important to note that if the parties are unable to reach an agreement on all the issues, the divorce case remains contested. In a contested divorce, the court may need to intervene and make decisions on unresolved matters through a trial or other legal proceedings.

An uncontested divorce offers several potential benefits. It can save time, money, and emotional stress compared to a contested divorce. By reaching an agreement, the parties have more control over the outcome and can tailor the terms to their specific needs and circumstances. Additionally, an uncontested divorce can often be finalized more quickly since there is no need for extensive court involvement or lengthy legal battles.

However, it's crucial to ensure that any written separation agreement is fair, comprehensive, and legally enforceable. It's advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney to review the agreement and provide guidance to protect your rights and interests.

How expensive is a contested divorce?

The cost of a divorce can vary depending on several factors, particularly the level of litigation involved. Generally, divorces can become expensive when there are disputes that require extensive legal proceedings to reach a resolution. However, at Wise & Associates, they strive to minimize attorneys' fees through their approach of "staged flat fees."

On average, a contested divorce in Kentucky without the need for a trial can cost around $10,000. This includes the expenses associated with legal representation, court filings, and other related costs. However, Wise & Associates aims to provide more affordable options for their clients. With an average divorce cost of approximately $7,000, we offer a cost-effective alternative compared to other divorce law firms in Kentucky.

Utilizing staged flat fees, Wise & Associates provides transparency and predictability in our billing process. This approach allows clients to have a clear understanding of the costs involved at each stage of the divorce process. It helps minimize surprises and provides clients with greater control over their expenses.

The goal of Wise & Associates is to provide quality legal representation while keeping costs reasonable. They understand that divorce can be a challenging and emotionally charged process, and they strive to offer their services at a more affordable rate compared to other firms.

What is alimony in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, the concept of alimony has been replaced by the concept of rehabilitative maintenance, as outlined in the adoption of the Uniform Marriage & Divorce Act in 1972. The purpose of rehabilitative maintenance is to provide support to a spouse in need, with the goal of enabling them to become self-sufficient in the future.

Rehabilitative maintenance is designed to assist the receiving spouse in their rehabilitation efforts, allowing them to meet their own needs without relying on the paying spouse. The intention is to provide support for a limited duration, during which the receiving spouse can acquire the necessary skills or education to become financially independent.

While the Kentucky legislature and courts have provided guidance on the amount and duration of maintenance awards, there is no specific formula or method to predict the outcome of a maintenance request. The determination of maintenance awards is within the discretion of the trial court, and such awards will only be overturned if there is clear evidence of a clearly erroneous decision. The court considers various factors when determining the amount and duration of rehabilitative maintenance. These factors may include the length of the marriage, the financial resources of each spouse, the earning capacity of the receiving spouse, the standard of living during the marriage, and any other relevant circumstances.

It's important to note that the purpose of rehabilitative maintenance is to provide temporary support and assistance to the receiving spouse. The goal is to enable them to become self-sufficient and no longer reliant on the paying spouse for financial support.

It's crucial for individuals seeking maintenance or facing a maintenance request to consult with an experienced family law attorney. They can provide guidance on the specific factors that may influence the court's decision and help navigate the legal process.

How is spousal support decided in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, the decision regarding spousal support, also known as maintenance, is based on specific criteria outlined in the law. According to the relevant statute, a court may grant a maintenance order for either spouse in certain circumstances.

To be eligible for spousal support, the spouse seeking maintenance must meet two key criteria: (a) Lack of Sufficient Property: The spouse must demonstrate that they lack sufficient property, including marital property that has been apportioned to them, to meet their reasonable needs. This means that they do not have enough assets or resources to adequately support themselves.

(b) Inability to Support Oneself: The spouse must also show that they are unable to support themselves through appropriate employment or that they are the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate for them not to seek employment outside the home. This criterion recognizes situations where the spouse may have caregiving responsibilities that prevent them from seeking employment.

It's important to note that the court considers these factors when determining whether to award spousal support. The decision is made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the specific circumstances of the parties involved.

The court will assess the financial needs of the spouse seeking maintenance and their ability to meet those needs independently. They will also consider the duration of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, the financial resources of each spouse, and any other relevant factors.

It's important to consult with a family law attorney to understand how these factors may apply to your specific situation. An attorney can provide guidance on the likelihood of receiving spousal support and help you navigate the legal process.

How much spousal support will I have to pay?

The amount of spousal support, also known as maintenance, that an individual may have to pay in Kentucky is determined by the court based on various factors. The court considers all relevant circumstances and aims to make a fair and just decision.

When determining the amount of spousal support, the court takes into account the following factors:

(a) Financial Resources: The court considers the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including any marital property that has been apportioned to them. It also assesses their ability to meet their needs independently, taking into account any support provided for a child living with them.

(b) Education and Training: The court considers the time necessary for the party seeking maintenance to acquire sufficient education or training to obtain suitable employment. This factor recognizes the importance of providing support during a transitional period to enable the individual to become self-sufficient.

(c) Standard of Living: The standard of living established during the marriage is also taken into account. The court considers the lifestyle and expenses that were typical during the marriage when determining an appropriate level of support.

(d) Duration of the Marriage: The length of the marriage is a relevant factor. Generally, longer marriages may warrant a longer duration of spousal support, while shorter marriages may result in a shorter duration.

(e) Age and Physical/Emotional Condition: The age and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance are considered. This factor recognizes that certain circumstances, such as advanced age or health issues, may impact a person's ability to support themselves.

(f) Ability to Meet Needs: The court also considers the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet their own needs while also meeting the needs of the spouse seeking maintenance. This ensures that the support order is fair and reasonable for both parties.

It's important to note that there is no specific formula or calculation for determining the exact amount of spousal support. Each case is evaluated individually, and the court has discretion in making a decision based on the specific circumstances presented.

Can spousal support be modified or terminated?

Under Kentucky law, spousal support, also known as maintenance, can be modified or terminated under certain circumstances. According to KRS 403.250(1), a modification of the maintenance provisions in a decree can only occur if there is a showing of changed circumstances that are substantial and continuing, rendering the existing terms unconscionable.

In other words, to modify spousal support, the party seeking the modification must demonstrate that there has been a significant and ongoing change in circumstances that makes the current terms of the support arrangement unfair or unreasonable. This could include changes in income, employment status, health, or other relevant factors.

However, it's important to note that the provisions regarding property disposition in the decree cannot be revoked or modified unless there are specific conditions that justify reopening the judgment under the laws of Kentucky.

Additionally, according to KRS 403.250(2), unless otherwise agreed in writing or expressly provided in the decree, the obligation to pay future maintenance is terminated upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the party receiving maintenance. This means that if the recipient of spousal support remarries or if either party passes away, the obligation to pay ongoing maintenance ceases.

How does property get divided in a divorce?

In a divorce proceeding or legal separation, the division of property in Kentucky is determined by the court. The court is responsible for assigning each spouse's property and dividing the marital property in a manner that is considered fair and just, without regard to marital misconduct.

When dividing the marital property, the court takes into account various factors outlined in KRS 403.190(1). These factors include:

(a) Contribution of Each Spouse: The court considers the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property. This includes both financial contributions and non-financial contributions, such as homemaking or child-rearing.

(b) Value of Property Set Apart: The court evaluates the value of the property that will be set apart to each spouse. This involves determining the specific assets that will be awarded to each party.

(c) Duration of the Marriage: The length of the marriage is a relevant factor in property division. Generally, longer marriages may warrant a more equal distribution of marital property.

(d) Economic Circumstances: The court takes into account the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property becomes effective. This includes considering the financial needs and resources of each spouse, as well as the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse with custody of any children.

It's important to note that the goal of property division is to achieve a fair and just distribution, rather than an equal division. The court has discretion in determining what proportions are considered fair based on the specific circumstances of the case.

Can my student loans be divided in a divorce?

In Kentucky, the divisibility of student loans and professional degrees in a divorce can be a complex issue. When one spouse pursues a graduate or professional degree while the other spouse assumes primary responsibility for supporting the family, conflicts may arise regarding the division of the enhanced earning capacity associated with the degree or professional license.

Student loans are generally considered the responsibility of the individual who incurred them. They are not typically divided as marital property in a divorce. However, the issue becomes more complicated when it comes to professional degrees and licenses.

Kentucky courts have recognized that professional degrees and licenses lack many of the attributes commonly associated with "property." They are personal to the holder, non-transferable, and do not possess objective market value. As such, they are generally considered nonmarital property.

While professional degrees and licenses are not considered marital property, they can still be taken into account as a factor in determining the distribution of marital property. The value of an individual's professional license or degree may be tied to their professional practice, and the court may consider this when making decisions about property division.

Although professional degrees and licenses are excluded as marital property, Kentucky courts have some discretion to compensate the non-student spouse. This can be done through other means, such as awarding maintenance (spousal support) or making an unequal division of property.

It's important to note that each divorce case is unique, and the specific circumstances will play a significant role in determining how student loans, professional degrees, and licenses are addressed.

How is child custody defined in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, child custody refers to the right to make major life decisions for a minor child, including decisions related to schooling, medical care, and religion. There are two categories of custody recognized in Kentucky: joint custody and sole custody.

Joint custody means that both parents have an equal say in making major decisions for the child. They share the responsibility and must work together to reach agreements. However, if joint custodians cannot agree on a decision, the court can intervene and make a determination based on the best interests of the child. It's important to note that most judges prefer to encourage parents to reach agreements on their own before resorting to court intervention.

Sole custody, on the other hand, grants one parent the authority to make major decisions for the child unilaterally. This means that the custodial parent has the final say in matters related to the child's upbringing. However, it's important to understand that an award of sole custody does not necessarily dictate the amount of time the child spends with each parent.

The term "primary residential parent" is often used to describe the parent with whom the child primarily resides and considers their home. This term is commonly misnamed as "primary residential custody." It's important to note that the concept of primary residential parent does not determine custody rights or decision-making authority but rather focuses on the child's primary residence.

It's crucial to understand that custody arrangements are separate from visitation or parenting time schedules. Even in cases where one parent has sole custody, the non-custodial parent may still have regular visitation or parenting time with the child. The specific visitation schedule can be determined by the court or agreed upon by the parents.

The determination of child custody in Kentucky is based on the best interests of the child. The court considers various factors, including the child's relationship with each parent, the ability of each parent to provide for the child's needs, the child's adjustment to their home, school, and community, and any history of domestic violence or abuse.

How is parenting time different than visitation in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, the terminology used to describe a child's schedule and the time spent with each parent or custodian can vary. The terms "visitation," "timesharing," and "parenting time" are all used to refer to this concept. However, there are some distinctions in how these terms are commonly understood. Traditionally, the term "visitation" has been used to describe the time a non-custodial parent spends with the child. This term implies that the non-custodial parent has limited access to the child and is granted specific periods of visitation.

On the other hand, "timesharing" is a term often used to describe the schedule and allocation of time between custodial and non-custodial parents. It suggests a more equitable sharing of parenting responsibilities and emphasizes the importance of both parents having meaningful and regular involvement in the child's life.

In recent years, the term "parenting time" has gained popularity in Kentucky and other jurisdictions. This term reflects the idea that both parents, regardless of custodial status, have the right to spend quality time with their child and actively participate in their upbringing. It emphasizes the importance of fostering a positive and nurturing relationship between the child and both parents.

It's important to note that the specific terminology used may vary depending on the context, such as federal or interstate cases. For example, in some contexts, "physical custody" may be used to refer to the concept of parenting time or the allocation of time spent with the child.

While the terminology may differ, the underlying principle remains the same: to ensure that both parents have the opportunity to maintain a meaningful relationship with their child. The focus is on promoting the best interests of the child and facilitating a healthy co-parenting dynamic. It's advisable to consult with a family law attorney to understand the specific terminology and legal implications in your case. An attorney can provide guidance on the appropriate terminology and help you navigate the legal process effectively.

How can I modify child custody in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, the process for modifying child custody is governed by KRS 403.340. Whether the current custody arrangement is sole custody or joint custody, any modification of custody must adhere to the guidelines outlined in this statute. To initiate a modification of custody, the party seeking the change must submit an affidavit along with a motion that sets forth the facts supporting the requested modification. These facts must establish adequate cause for a hearing, as required by KRS 403.350.

If the request for a change in custody is made within two years of the original custody decree, the party must submit at least two affidavits demonstrating that the child's present environment may seriously endanger their physical, mental, moral, or emotional health, or that the custodian appointed under the prior decree has placed the child with a de facto custodian.

For modification requests made more than two years after the original decree or the last custody order, the court will consider whether a change has occurred in the circumstances of the child or the custodian, and whether the modification is necessary to serve the best interests of the child. Factors such as the custodian's agreement to the modification, the child's integration into the petitioner's family, the best interests of the child, the child's present environment, the potential harm caused by a change of environment, and the involvement of a de facto custodian will be taken into account.

Once the initial motion for modification is submitted, the court will schedule a hearing where the parties can present evidence related to the factors mentioned above. The court will carefully consider the evidence presented and make a determination based on the best interests of the child.

How can I modify parenting time in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, the process for modifying parenting time, also known as timesharing, can be initiated at any time upon a proper showing. The court has the authority to modify timesharing arrangements if it is determined to be in the best interests of the child.

The court can order a modification of timesharing if it is deemed to be in the child's best interests. However, it is important to note that a "less than reasonable" timesharing arrangement can only be ordered if the child's health is seriously endangered. The recent clarification by the Supreme Court emphasized that an other-than-equal timesharing schedule is not automatically considered unreasonable. The court retains significant discretion in determining the appropriate timesharing arrangement.

Regardless of when the modification is sought, there is a presumption in favor of joint custody and equal timesharing in Kentucky, as stated in KRS 403.340(6). However, this presumption only applies if the court first determines that a modification is in the best interests of the child. The court must assess whether a change in the existing custody decree is in the child's best interests before applying the presumption. If a modification is deemed to be in the child's best interests, joint custody and equal timesharing are presumed to be in the child's best interests as well.

It's important to consult with a family law attorney to understand the specific requirements and procedures for modifying parenting time in Kentucky. An attorney can provide guidance based on the unique circumstances of your case and help you navigate the legal process effectively.

Do I have to pay child support?

In Kentucky, the law has long established that both parents have a legal duty to provide support for their child, regardless of whether the parents are married, divorced, or unmarried. This duty of support applies to both biological and adoptive parents.

The requirement to pay child support has been in place since 1952, predating the establishment of the Kentucky Child Support Guidelines. The guidelines provide a framework for calculating the amount of child support based on various factors, including the income of both parents, the number of children involved, and the custody arrangement.

The duty to pay child support applies not only to biological or adoptive parents but also to stepparents in certain circumstances. If a stepparent is receiving public assistance, they may have a child support obligation as well.

It's important to note that child support is intended to ensure that the child's financial needs are met and that both parents contribute to their upbringing. The amount of child support is determined based on the guidelines and the specific circumstances of the case.

Failure to pay child support can have serious legal consequences, including enforcement actions such as wage garnishment, suspension of driver's licenses, and even potential imprisonment in extreme cases of non-compliance.

How is child support calculated in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, child support is calculated using the Kentucky Child Support Guidelines, which were established to comply with the federal mandate of the Family Support Act of 1988. The guidelines serve as a rebuttable presumption for determining child support awards in the state.

To calculate child support, several factors are considered. These include the gross income of each parent, the number of minor children involved, whether either parent is financially supporting other minor children from previous relationships, and whether either parent is paying court-ordered maintenance (spousal support).

Once these factors are determined, the calculations are made using the "child support chart" provided in the Kentucky Child Support Guidelines, as outlined in KRS 403.212. The chart takes into account the combined gross income of both parents and provides a corresponding child support amount based on the number of children involved.

It's important to note that the child support guidelines create a rebuttable presumption, meaning that the court can deviate from the guideline amount if specific findings are made on the record. However, any deviation must be supported by valid reasons and must be in the best interests of the child.

The purpose of the child support guidelines is to ensure that child support is calculated in a fair and consistent manner, taking into account the financial circumstances of both parents. The guidelines aim to provide adequate support for the child's needs while considering the income and resources of each parent.

Can I modify child support in the future?

In Kentucky, child support can be modified in the future if there is a material change in circumstances that is substantial and continuing, as outlined in KRS 403.213(1). The statute establishes a rebuttable presumption that a 15% change in the amount of support due is sufficient to prove a material change in circumstances. This presumption applies after a one-year period, while prior to that period, the percentage is 25%.

To initiate a modification of child support, a party must file a motion with the court, providing facts that demonstrate a substantial and continuing material change in circumstances. The child support calculation is then recalculated using updated income information for both parents. If the child support amount changes by 15% or more, the court will typically modify the support obligation based on the presumption.

It's important to note that any modification of child support is prospective and applies to child support payments accruing after the filing of the motion. The court cannot modify payments that were ordered before the motion was filed, regardless of the circumstances. However, the modification can be retroactive to the date of filing the motion.

The 15% presumption set forth in the statute does not apply to modifications resulting from changes in child care and health insurance costs. If these costs decrease or increase, child support may be adjusted accordingly, even if the change is less than 15%. The allocation of these costs is considered a prepayment or reimbursement, and if the expenses are not incurred, the other party is entitled to be repaid the amount they had provided.

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