The Divorce Process in Kentucky
A cursory glance at the social statistics reveals that the things are really a bit unbridled. In 1999, Kentucky had a divorce rate of 5.5/1000 population, far above the national average of 4.1/1000 population. Superficially the divorce rate seems to be on the decline. In 1990, Kentucky had a divorce rate of 5.8/1000 population, which shot up to 5.9/1000 population in 1995. Then followed a trend towards decline with the divorce rate being 5.1/1000 population in 2001, which further receded to 4.9/1000 population in the year 2004. However this downward trend is apt to lose its validity, considering the high rate of cohabitation and Out-of-Wedlock birth rate in Kentucky. At the same time, the fading away of conventional restraining influences, with 46.57% of the population not being attached to any church, the social institutions seem to be susceptible to an enhanced level of pressure and stress.
In order to file a divorce suit in Kentucky, one has to satisfy certain residency requirements. In case of a finding by the court that it has no jurisdiction over the given suit, the case may be dismissed. To file a petition for divorce in Kentucky, one of the parties should be a resident of the state or should be stationed in the state as a member of the armed forces for at least 180 days prior to the filing of the petition. (Kentucky Statutes: Title 35- Chapter: 403.140) The petition for dissolution must be initiated in the Circuit Court of the county where either of the spouses usually resides. (Kentucky Statutes: Title 35- Chapter: 452.470)
The spouse who initiates the divorce process is called the Petitioner. The Petitioner is required to serve the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage on the other spouse, who is called the Respondent. In the petition, the petitioner ought to mention the valid Kentucky grounds for Dissolution of Marriage, on the basis of which the divorce is being sought. Besides, it should include other information relevant to the case such as the existence and status of any domestic violence protective orders, date of marriage, place of registration of marriage, date of separation, information regarding children if there are any, any arrangements regarding child custody and visitation and spousal support, etc. Kentucky is a purely no-fault state and a conclusion by the court that the marriage under consideration for dissolution is irretrievably broken, without any reasonable prospect of reconciliation, is the sufficient and only acceptable ground for divorce. No further clarifications or explanations are expected from either of the spouses. (Kentucky Statutes: Title 35- Chapter: 403.170) During the divorce proceedings, one or other of the two parties may move to the court for temporary orders regarding maintenance and child support, and may request the court to issue a temporary injunction or restraining order till the case is pending. (Kentucky Statutes: Title 35- Chapter: 403.160)
So far as the division of property is concerned, Kentucky is an “equitable distribution” state. In case of a disagreement concerning the division of property, all marital property is equitably divided by the court between the two parties, without any regard to marital misconduct. “Marital Property” includes all assets and debts acquired by the couple after the marriage. It doesn’t include the property acquired by gift, bequest, devise or descent or any property acquired in exchange for such a property. While dividing the property the court does consider such factors as the contribution of each spouse, duration of marriage, economic circumstances of each spouse, etc. (Kentucky Statutes: Title 35- Chapter: 403.190) The court may grant a maintenance to a spouse after examining various facts such as the financial status of the spouse, employability, standard of living established during the marriage, physical and emotional condition of the spouse, etc. (Kentucky Statutes: Title 35- Chapter: 403.200)
The child custody is decided in accordance with the best interests of the child. Equal consideration is given to both the parents and joint custody is permitted. The wishes of the parents and the child are considered besides various emotional and psychological factors, before arriving at any decision. The court may interview the child and may consult a professional to decide the custody issue. The court may also appoint an investigator or an agency to investigate and report regarding the custodial arrangements. Non-custodial parent is given reasonable visitation rights, unless it may prove to be detrimental to the child’s overall health and well-being. Barring exceptional circumstances, no appeal for modification of custody decree can be made earlier than two years.
In Kentucky, the child support is calculated on the basis of the Child Support Guidelines. The court may deviate from these guidelines as and when deemed necessary to do justice to the needs of the child. Any future modification in the child support can be made only in the light of the Child Support Guidelines, which are reviewed at least once every four years.
James Walsh is a freelance writer and copy editor. If you want to find out more about a solicitor managed divorce see http://www.managed-divorce.co.uk
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