Guide to the Divorce Process in Kentucky
It can be very difficult to decide whether to initiate a divorce. The divorce process in Kentucky streamlines some aspects of divorce so that it is easier for spouses to end a failing marriage. In order to understand the divorce process in Kentucky, divorcing spouses should make sure they have a grasp of the terminology and procedure involved in obtaining a divorce. This guide can help to give you an overview of the divorce process so you can seek further information from more in-depth sources or by consulting a legal professional.
Petition and Response
The divorce process in Kentucky begins formally when one spouse (called the “plaintiff”) files a formal written petition for dissolution of marriage with the Circuit Court. Kentucky is one of several states to allow only “no fault” divorces, so this divorce petition will always include Kentucky's only permissible grounds for divorce: an “irretrievable breakdown” of a marriage.
The complaint will be served to the other (“defendant”) spouse formally, often by the sheriff's deputy or a process server. It may also be sent by certified mail. After being served, the defendant spouse will be able to file a written response to the petition.
Both the petition and response will include requests for relief—the terms of the divorce requested by each party. The divorce process in Tennessee is significantly easier if both spouses can agree on all these terms—this could make an easy divorce settlement possible.
Sometimes, the defendant spouse is served with divorce papers but makes no effort to respond to them. If this happens, the court is able to grant a “divorce by default,” a divorce process in Kentucky which usually grants the plaintiff any relief requested in the divorce petition. There is no way for a spouse to “refuse to grant” a divorce—the court is the only grantor of divorces.
Divorce Settlements and Mediation
While divorce is a civil lawsuit, the vast majority of divorces in Kentucky do not make it to the final, trial stage. Instead, the divorce process in Kentucky can be cut short if both spouses can come to an agreement, or settlement.
Divorce settlements are so common that the court may actually order you to attend mediation in hopes of negotiating a settlement. This part of the divorce process in Kentucky involves you and your spouse attempting to work out a deal with the assistance of a trained mediator, who can help you keep your focus on the issues at hand, not on the emotional fallout of the divorce.
Discovery and Trial
If mediation fails and your case begins to move toward trial, the divorce process in Kentucky will suddenly get much more time-consuming and expensive. Trials can also be traumatic emotionally for either spouse or your children.
The process leading up to trial is one of “discovery,” which involves both parties seeking financial information. If the spouses cooperate at this time, discovery can be straightforward, but if assets are hidden, discovery can take a long time and require expert witnesses and many depositions.