Kentucky Divorce

Below you can find a summary on Kentucky divorce laws, as well as various resources on divorce.


You'll also find experienced divorce attorneys to handle your case, divorce papers and separation agreements if you and your spouse can work together and agree on everything, and different methods in which you can calculate child support based on your circumstances. If you need support during your divorce, you can find local divorce support groups and access domestic violence hotlines and shelters.

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Kentucky Divorce Statutes - Title 35 - Chapter: 403 

Divorce residency requirement and which court to file in: At least one of the spouses needs to have resided in Kentucky (or be stationed in the state while in the military) for at least 180 before filing a petition with the Circuit Court for dissolution or legal separation.

Grounds for divorce: The only recognized cause for divorce in Kentucky is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage with no reasonable possibility of reconciliation. The court will not enter a decree until the couple has lived apart for 60 days. A couple may still live in the same house during the 60 day period, but there must be no sexual cohabitation. A conciliation conference may be ordered as part of the grounds hearing to see if the parties can work out their issues and avoid getting divorced.

Legal Separation in Kentucky / Conversion to Decree of Dissolution: A legal separation may be granted for the same causes that would allow for a divorce. All legal issues and property distribution can be addressed in a legal separation, except that the spouses are not allowed to remarry. A legal separation decree can be converted to a decree of dissolution of marriage on the motion of either party if at least a year has passed since the legal separation was entered.

Property Division: All property acquired during the marriage and before a legal separation is considered marital property and divisible during a divorce or separation. Property which is not marital property includes assets acquired by inheritance or gift, property acquired in exchange for property owned before the marriage, and property excluded by a valid agreement between the spouses.

In proceedings for the dissolution of marriage or legal separation in Kentucky, the court will divide the marital property in a just way without regard to marital misconduct, considering:

  • The duration of the couple's marriage;
  • The value of assets set apart to each spouse;
  • Each spouse's contribution in acquiring marital assets, including contributions as a homemaker; and
  • The desirability of awarding the home, or the right to live there for a reasonable time, to the spouse having custody of the children, taking into consideration the economic circumstances of each spouse after the division of property.

If one spouse's retirement benefits will be excluded during the division of marital property, the other spouse's retirement benefits shall also be excluded, with the exception that the exclusion provided the spouse with the larger retirement benefit will not exceed the exclusion provided to the other spouse.

Spousal Maintenance: Either spouse may be granted maintenance in a legal separation or dissolution of marriage proceeding only if the court finds the spouse requesting support:

  • Lacks sufficient resources, including marital assets awarded during the dissolution or legal separation to provide for that spouse's reasonable needs, and
  • Is unable to be self-supporting or is the custodial parent caring for a child whose condition would prohibit that spouse from seeking outside employment.

The amount and duration of maintenance is determined by considering:

  • The ability of the spouse seeking maintenance to independently meet his or her needs, taking into consideration their financial resources;
  • The time and training necessary for the dependent spouse to find adequate employment;
  • The lifestyle established by the couple and how long they were married;
  • The dependent spouses' age and physical or emotional condition; and
  • The ability of the other spouse to meet his/her needs and financial obligations while paying maintenance.

Child Custody Laws / De facto custodian: A "de facto custodian" is a person who has been the primary caregiver and financial supporter of a child less than 3 years old who has resided with the person for a period of 6 months or more. For a person to be considered the de facto custodian of a child over 3 years old, they must have been the primary financial supporter and caregiver of the child for at least 1 year.

Once a court determines a person meets the definition of de facto custodian based on clear and convincing evidence, the court shall give the person the same consideration in custody matters that is given to each parent.

The court will determine a custody arrangement that is in the child's best interest. In Kentucky, there is a presumption, rebuttable by a preponderance of evidence, that joint custody and equally shared parenting time is in the best interest of the child. In making a custody determination, a judge will consider the best interests of the child as detailed by Kentucky Revised Statutes, section 403.270(2). In cases of domestic violence, it is generally assumed that shared parenting time is not in the best interest of the child.

If custody is granted to the de facto custodian, he or she will be considered to have legal custody. The court won't consider the conduct of a proposed custodian if the custodial party abandoned the family home due to domestic abuse.

The non-custodial parent is entitled to reasonable visitation based on the developmental age of the child unless it would seriously endanger the child's physical, mental, moral, or emotional health. Any court-ordered modifications of the visitation decree due to the deployment or active duty of the custodial parent shall revert back to the previous visitation decree when the deployment or active duty period ends. 

Divorced Parenting Classes - Divorce Education is mandatory for divorcing parents of minor children by many local circuit courts in the state. These education programs were developed to help parents recognize the effect of a divorce or marital separation on their children. Parents are shown how ongoing conflict harms their children and how they can co-parent more effectively.

Child Support - All child support orders will contain a provision for the allocation of health care expenses and child-care costs. The amount of support is based on the combined incomes of both parents, less the amount of pre-existing support obligations, and will be divided proportionately between the parents based on their adjusted gross incomes. The level of child support is based on the number of children using the Kentucky child support tables, but will be no less than $60 a month.

In split custody arrangements, support is calculated preparing the support worksheet for each parent based on the number of children born of the marriage who reside in each separate household. After the base calculations are made, the parent with the greater amount of support obligation pays the difference to the other parent.

Child support may be modified if a change in circumstances would result in a 15% or greater change in the amount of support due each month. For support orders less than a year old, the presumptive material change is 25%. Child support ends when a child turns eighteen or completes high school, but ends when the child turns 19. Support for a disabled child is extended until age 21. The obligation to pay child support may also be terminated if the child becomes emancipated due to an emancipation order.


You've made the hard decision to end your marriage, but unfortunately, don't have the money to hire a lawyer. If the two of you can agree on everything, and the property division in fairly simple, you can complete all the paperwork and file everything yourself. And the easiest way to go about this is by using a reputable online service that offers you the ability to complete the required court forms with step-by-step filing procedures. This system takes the hassle out of doing your own divorce by providing you with everything you need from start to finish. Find out more about this online divorce service.


Kentucky Attorney General Domestic Violence Information - with links to related site, hotlines, and shelters.


Divorce Recovery Louisville
Crescent Hill Baptist Church
2800 Frankfort Ave
Louisville, KY 40206
(502) 896-4425

This group meets every Sunday from 5:00 to 6:30 PM. It is non-denominational group and was started in 1982 to offer emotional support for men and women affected by divorce and all the issues that go along with it.