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Kentucky Family Law: An Overview

While marriage, child rearing and divorce are largely personal matters in which emotions seem to take control over issues, Kentucky’s family laws play a vital role in guiding family issues toward equitable resolutions. Regardless of which role a family member plays or the social structure of your family, the law grants equal rights and protections to everyone. It also takes the best interests of both the individuals and the family unit into consideration.

If you have a family law case in Lexington, Bowling Green, Louisville or elsewhere in Kentucky, LawInfo is your source for information and legal help. LawInfo’s Kentucky Family Law section includes legal overviews, summaries of state laws and other resources to help you make the right decisions for you and your family.

If you need help navigating the complex laws governing your case, a Kentucky family law attorney can help and treat your case with the sensitivity it deserves.

Kentucky Child Custody and Visitation

Child custody after divorce doesn’t default to the child’s mother under Kansas’s family laws. A court judge must determine what’s in the best interest of the child—whether one parent or guardian should receive sole custody or if both should share joint custody. There are several factors that a court must consider when making a custody decision, including:

  • Each parent or guardian’s wishes for the child.
  • The child’s wishes.
  • The relationship and interactions between the child and their parents/guardians, siblings and anyone else who is important to the child’s life.
  • Every party’s physical and mental health.

If one parent isn’t granted custody over the child, they may earn visitation rights. If the court finds that visitation may be detrimental to the child’s safety, health or development, the noncustodial parent may not be granted visitation rights.

Kentucky Marriage Licenses

A marriage license is an important part of the marriage process because it verifies that you and your spouse have met Kentucky’s marriage requirements. Marriage is a civil contract into which both parties must enter willingly and with consent. The license serves as proof of consent.

Both parties are required to apply for a marriage license in-person at a Kentucky County Clerk’s office prior to their marriage ceremony. Neither party must be a resident to apply for a Kentucky marriage license. The license also doesn’t need to be used in the same county where it was attained—it can be used anywhere within the state.

If either applicant is 16 or 17 years of age, they will need to either furnish written parental consent or have their parents provide signed consent at the time of the application. If either applicant is under 16 years old, they will need to furnish a written court order allowing the marriage.

Once you receive the marriage license, you don’t have to wait to start your marriage ceremony. However, you only have 30 days to commence the ceremony before the license expires.

Kentucky No-Fault Divorces

You don’t need to prove any particular reason to get a divorce in Kentucky, only that your marriage has suffered an “irretrievable breakdown.” This makes Kentucky a “no-fault” divorce state in which marital fault isn’t considered in divorce, property distribution and spousal support decisions.

Only one party (the petitioner) needs to file for divorce and claim that the marriage suffered an irretrievable breakdown. If the other party (the respondent) agrees to the terms of the divorce, the court may grant the dissolution as an uncontested divorce. Even if the respondent disagrees to the divorce or its terms, however, the court may still grant the dissolution.