Kentucky Divorce Basics

Learn the basics of a divorce, or dissolution of marriage, in Kentucky.

This article explains the general rules and procedures to get a divorce in Kentucky.

Grounds for Divorce

In Kentucky, either spouse may file for divorce if the marriage is irretrievably broken, meaning there is no chance of reconciliation. This is the only ground for dissolution in Kentucky and neither spouse is required to show proof of fault by the other spouse.    

Residency Requirement and Waiting Period

At least one spouse must be a resident of Kentucky for at least 180 days prior to filing for dissolution. You must then live apart from your spouse for 60 days before a judge will grant your divorce. Living apart includes living in separate places or living under the same roof without being sexually intimate with your spouse.      

Property Division        

Kentucky is an equitable distribution state. This means that the judge does not have to divide your marital property equally, but instead should divide it based on what is fair. Marital property is any property, including income, that either spouse acquired during the marriage. Property acquired by either spouse before marriage or through inheritance is that spouse's separate property and is not divided in most cases. The court will look at several factors to determine how to divide the marital property, such as the length of the marriage, each spouse's economic circumstances, the monetary value of the marital property, and each spouse's contribution to the marital estate (including the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker).    


One spouse may be required to provide financial maintenance (alimony) to the other after a divorce. To determine whether it’s appropriate to order maintenance, the court will consider the duration of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, each spouse's financial resources, and the ability of a non-working spouse to seek education or training or find appropriate employment. Either spouse may request a modification of the maintenance amount if there is a significant change in circumstances that cause the current order to be unfair.

Child Support

In Kentucky, both parents are obligated to financially support their child until the child graduates from high school or reaches age 19. Courts calculate child support based on the incomes of both parents and may also consider daycare and health insurance costs. To estimate how much child support you might pay or receive, click  here. Child support payments are deducted directly from the paying parent's paycheck and are sent to the recipient parent. You may request a modification of the support order if either parent's income changes substantially or if the needs of the child change. The  Child Support Enforcement  division can help you apply for child support and also enforces child support orders.

Child Custody

Kentucky courts make child custody orders based on the best interests of the child and can grant custody to one parent, to both parents together, or to another person who is the child's primary caregiver.    When determining what is in the child's best interest, the court will consider factors including the parents' wishes, the relationship between the child and parents, the child's adjustment to home, school, and community, the child's and parents' mental and physical health, and each parent's ability to encourage contact between the child and the other parent. The court will not modify a custody order unless the parents agree or there is a substantial change in circumstances of the child or parents.

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