Divorce in Kentucky: everything you need to know

1 min readLast updated April 11, 2024by Unbiased team

Take a deep dive in what you need to know if you're starting divorce proceedings in the state of Kentucky.


  • Kentucky is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning no one has to be at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.

  • There are two types of divorce in Kentucky – contested and uncontested.   

  • Kentucky has a mandatory separation period of 60 days before a judge can grant a final divorce.

  • A financial advisor can help you navigate your finances during a divorce and rebuild afterward.

What are the different types of divorce in Kentucky?

Kentucky is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning no one has to be at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.

Additionally, Kentucky only requires that at least one spouse believes there is an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage for divorce proceedings to go ahead.

When going through a divorce, there are two main types:

  1. Uncontested Divorce:

    • An uncontested divorce (also known as a simple divorce) occurs when both spouses agree on all issues required to end their marriage.

    • In an uncontested divorce, couples reach a consensus on matters such as property division, spousal maintenance, child custody, and child support without involving an outside third party.

    • The process is usually faster, smoother, and less adversarial.

    • Couples can submit a written settlement agreement to the court outlining the agreed-upon terms.

  2. Contested Divorce:

    • A contested divorce arises when spouses cannot agree on one or more critical issues related to their divorce.

    • These disagreements may involve property division, alimony, child custody, or other matters.

    • In a contested divorce, the court intervenes to determine the final arrangements.

    • It may require legal proceedings, hearings, and potentially a trial.

    • Contested divorces tend to be more complex, contentious, and costly.

How much does a divorce cost in Kentucky?

The cost of a divorce in Kentucky can vary depending on several factors, such as whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, whether you have children or property to divide, and whether you hire an attorney or represent yourself.

However, some common expenses that you may encounter are:

  • Filing fee: This is the fee that you pay to the court when you file your divorce petition. The filing fee in Kentucky is between $115 and $250, as it varies from county to county.

  • Service fee: This is the fee that you pay to have your spouse served with the divorce papers. The service fee can range from $20 to $100, depending on how you choose to serve your spouse (e.g., by sheriff, certified mail, or private process server).

  • Attorney fee: This is the fee that you pay to your attorney for representing you in the divorce. The attorney fee can vary widely depending on the complexity of your case, the experience and reputation of your attorney, and the amount of time and work involved. Some attorneys may charge a flat fee, while others may charge an hourly rate or a percentage of the assets or debts that they help you recover or pay. The average attorney fee for a divorce in Kentucky is about $10,000, but it can be much higher or lower depending on your situation.

  • Mediation fee: This is the fee that you pay to a mediator if you and your spouse agree to use mediation to resolve your divorce issues. Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process where a neutral third party helps you and your spouse communicate and negotiate a settlement. Mediation can save you time and money by avoiding a trial, but it is not free. The average mediation fee for a divorce in Kentucky is about $125-$200 per hour,

  • Other fees: These are the fees that you may pay for other services or expenses related to your divorce, such as court reporters, appraisers, experts, witnesses, copies, postage, travel, etc.

How can I reduce the cost of my divorce in Kentucky?

Depending on your circumstances, the total cost of a divorce in Kentucky can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

However, you may be able to reduce your costs by:

  • Agreeing with your spouse: The more issues that you and your spouse can agree on, the less time and money you will spend on litigation. You may be able to file for an uncontested divorce, which is faster and cheaper than a contested divorce.

  • Shopping around: The fees that different attorneys, mediators, and other professionals charge can vary significantly, so you should compare their rates and qualifications before hiring them. You should also ask for a written estimate of their fees and expenses and a clear explanation of their billing practices and policies.

  • Asking for help: If you cannot afford the cost of a divorce, you may be able to get financial assistance from various sources, such as legal aid organizations, pro bono programs, low-cost or sliding-scale services, or friends and family. You may also be able to ask the court to order your spouse to pay some or all of your fees and expenses, especially if there is a large disparity in your income or assets.

How do you file for divorce in Kentucky?

To file for divorce in Kentucky, you or your spouse must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be a resident of Kentucky for at least 180 days before filing for divorce.

  • You must file for divorce in the county where you or your spouse live or where you last lived together as a married couple.

  • You must pay the filing fee, which varies by county and is about $115-$200.

The steps to file for divorce in Kentucky are as follows:

  • Prepare your divorce documents: Utilize online platforms like CompleteCase.com or enlist a lawyer to handle the preparation. This will involve filling out essential forms such as the petition for dissolution of marriage, summons, case data information sheet, certificate of divorce, and decree of dissolution of marriage. Additionally, you will need to draft a marital settlement agreement for uncontested divorces or a financial disclosure statement for contested ones.

  • File your divorce documents: Submit your completed documents in person, by mail, or via e-filing, depending on your county's procedures. You will need to pay the requisite filing fee and obtain a case number and judge assignment.

  • Serve your spouse: Serve your spouse through personal service by a sheriff, constable, or private process server or by certified mail with a return receipt requested. You must file a proof of service with the court to confirm delivery.

  • Await your spouse's response: Your spouse has 20 days (or 30 days if out of state) to respond to your divorce documents. They can file an answer indicating agreement or disagreement or a counterclaim with their own requests. If no response is received, seek a default judgment from the court.

  • Finalize your divorce: For uncontested divorces, submit your marital settlement agreement and decree of dissolution of marriage to the court for review and signature. Depending on the county and judge, a final hearing may or may not be required. Contested divorces undergo the discovery process and trial, where the court will make final decisions and issue a decree of dissolution of marriage, officially ending the marriage.

How do you split assets in a divorce in Kentucky?

Kentucky is an equitable distribution state, which means that the court will divide the marital property and debts in a way that is fair and equitable, but not necessarily equal, to both spouses.

Marital property is any property that was acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title or deed. This may include real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, businesses, furniture, jewelry, and other assets.

The court will not divide separate property. This is any property that a spouse owned before the marriage or that was acquired by gift, inheritance, or other non-marital source during the marriage.

How does alimony work in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, the court may award alimony if it finds that one spouse lacks sufficient property to meet their reasonable needs and is unable to support themselves through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances where they cannot seek employment.

The court will determine the amount and duration of alimony based on several factors, such as:

  • The financial resources of each spouse, including the marital property awarded to each spouse

  • The time necessary for the recipient spouse to acquire sufficient education, training, or employment to become self-sufficient

  • The standard of living established during the marriage

  • The duration of the marriage

  • The age, physical, and mental condition of each spouse

  • The ability of the payer spouse to meet their own needs while paying alimony

  • Any other relevant factors

What happens to children during a divorce in Kentucky?

The best interests of the child determine child custody and visitation, and the court may consider various factors, such as:

  • The wishes of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and maturity

  • The wishes of the parents

  • The relationship of the child with the parents, siblings, and other significant persons

  • The adjustment of the child to their home, school, and community

  • The mental and physical health of all parties

  • The history of domestic violence, abuse, or neglect by either parent

  • The ability of the parents to cooperate and communicate with each other

  • Any other relevant factors

Child support is calculated based on the parents’ incomes, the number of children, and the amount of time each parent spends with the child.

How to protect your finances when going through a divorce in Kentucky

Going through a divorce can be a stressful and challenging time, especially when it comes to finances.

You may have many questions and concerns about how to protect your assets, manage your debts, and plan for your future.

Here are some ways you can protect your money when going through a divorce:

  • Arrange your financial affairs: Prior to initiating divorce proceedings, it’s wise to gather all of your important financial documents, including tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, and retirement account statements. It’s also recommended that a comprehensive inventory of assets and liabilities be created, distinguishing between marital and non-marital holdings.

  • Explore mediation as an alternative: Mediation involves collaborating with a neutral third party to address divorce-related matters such as property division, spousal support, and child custody. Compared to traditional litigation, mediation tends to be less time-consuming, more cost-effective, and less emotionally taxing.

  • Assess Social Security entitlements: If your marriage lasted at least 10 years, you may qualify for Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse's record. This supplementary income can be particularly beneficial during retirement, especially if your ex-spouse had a higher income.

  • Seek professional financial advice: A financial advisor specializing in divorce matters can guide you through the intricacies of this transition, helping you navigate changes and uncertainties while devising a sound financial strategy for the future.

Get expert financial advice

A financial advisor can help you assess your current financial status, create a post-divorce budget, and develop a long-term financial plan that aligns with your needs and goals.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor perfectly suited to meet your needs. Simply provide some details about what you’re looking for, and Unbiased’s platform will match you with your advisor.

Find your financial advisor with Unbiased today.


Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.