How Long Before a Divorce Is Final in Kentucky?
By Mary Jane Freeman
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Often when spouses decide to divorce, they want to get the process over with as soon as possible. In Kentucky, the time it takes to divorce varies and is largely dependent on your individual circumstances. For example, if you have children or cannot agree on the terms of your divorce, obtaining a divorce will take longer. However, if you don't have any children and can reach a marital settlement agreement, a divorce is possible in as little as 60 days.
Like many states, Kentucky imposes a waiting period on all couples who wish to divorce, and in Kentucky this waiting period is 60 days -- the minimum period a couple must wait before the court will finalize their divorce. If you have children, the court will not issue a divorce decree until at least 60 days have passed from the date you filed for divorce. For couples without children, a divorce may be entered 60 days from your separation date. Thus, it may be possible for non-parent spouses to obtain a divorce shortly after filing if their separation period began before their filing date.
Contested Vs. Uncontested
A major factor in how long a divorce will take is whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce is one in which both spouses are in agreement about the divorce and its terms, including property division, alimony, child support and custody. When spouses are unable to agree on one or more issues, the divorce is contested. With uncontested divorces, spouses submit a marital settlement agreement to the court and are divorced shortly after the waiting period. However, uncontested divorces require more steps.
Contested Divorce Delays
When couples can't agree on the terms of their divorce, the divorce can't proceed until these issues are resolved. To facilitate agreement, a Kentucky court may order the spouses to attend mediation. If spouses still can't reach agreement, the matter will proceed to trial, where the court will make these decisions for them. It can take months or more than a year to receive a divorce through the court system. This depends on a variety of factors, including the court's caseload and the procedures -- called "discovery" -- that each side uses to gather information about their case. Common discovery methods include depositions, which are questions and testimony provided under oath outside of court; interrogatories, which are a list of formal questions sent to the other side for answers; and requests for documents.
Couples With Children
When couples have children, the process of getting divorced is often longer. In addition to the delay caused by the waiting period, divorcing parents must also attend a parenting education class called "Families in Transition." If custody or other issues are in dispute, the court is likely to also order mediation, and eventually a trial if any issues remain unresolved. These additional activities greatly increase the time it takes to divorce. Parents can reduce the time it takes to divorce by working together to create a settlement agreement.
- Legal Aid Network of Kentucky: Divorce
- Fort Knox Legal Assistance Office: Kentucky Divorce Law
- Goeing and Goeing: Frequently Asked Questions - Divorce
- Barrow and Taylor: Contested Divorce
- Hoge & Kuhn, PLLC: The Importance of Discovery, Documentation and Proof in Kentucky Divorces
- Kentucky Court of Justice: Families in Transition Frequently Asked Questions
Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.