Family Law FAQs
I just got served with divorce papers. What are my next steps?
You should have received a copy of the petition for dissolution filed by your spouse and a summons. You are the respondent in the case and have 20 days to file an answer to the petition. You should consult an attorney immediately to prepare and file the response with the court.
How long does getting divorced in Kentucky take?
The time it takes to finalize a divorce depends on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested and whether there are minor children from the marriage. At a minimum, it would take at least 60 days from the date the petition was filed. If there are minor children, you and your spouse will be required to complete a Families in Transition program. If you and your spouse are contesting certain issues, such as the division of assets and child custody, the process will take longer.
What is the difference between legal separation and divorce?
A legal separation does not end a marriage like a divorce does. However, you and your spouse will live separately, which means you must reach agreements on issues such as the division of marital assets, child custody, and spousal support, among others. A legal separation can last up to one year at which time you either must resume the marriage or divorce. Any agreements you reached as part of the separation must be renegotiated in the divorce.
When is mediation a good option?
Mediation is the process during which you and your spouse would agree to meet with an unbiased professional mediator to help you resolve contested issues, rather than letting the court decide them. If you agree on many terms of the divorce but not all, mediation might be worth your time and effort. The process may help you and your spouse communicate more calmly on contentious matters and arrive at agreements you can both live with. Mediation also tends to lower everyone’s stress levels during divorce, especially that of children caught in the middle.
Who gets to keep the home during a divorce?
In divorces involving minor children, the home is often occupied during the divorce by the parent providing their daily care. Whether or not there are kids, many couples can agree on the issue of who stays and who goes during the divorce, or the court can issue temporary orders, pending resolution of marital asset division. Who gets the house in the end may not be the spouse who lives there during the divorce. Marital assets are equitably divided in Kentucky divorce. It may depend on the value of the property and the financial situation of one spouse or the other. The couple may agree or the court may order that the home be sold to divide the value among the spouses.
How do I make or change a child visitation schedule?
The visitation schedule is part of the child custody agreement. You and your spouse can agree to a schedule on your own or in mediation and then have the court approve it. If you can’t agree on a custody arrangement, the court will decide for you.
A parent must wait two years after the court has issued the child custody order before they can ask the court to modify it. Modifications will only be made if there has been a significant change in circumstances since the initial order or if the child’s health and well-being are at risk. Circumstantial changes may include such events as a job loss, medical issue, relocation, remarriage, one parent’s failure to observe the terms of the agreement, substance abuse, or child abuse.
I’m not sure I’m the child’s father. What are my options?
In Kentucky, the legal assumption is that the married individuals are the parents of a child and as such, both names appear on the birth certificate. If the parents are not married, they can both sign an affidavit acknowledging paternity without the need for testing to prove it. If you are unsure of a child’s paternity and want to know whether you are the father, you can ask the mother to voluntarily submit to testing of you, her, and the child to determine paternity. If she will not agree, you can petition the court to order the testing and render a decision based on the results.