In Kentucky, divorces are filed in family court or, if the County has no family court, in circuit court. In 2011, new rules for the family courts went into place standardizing many of the procedures in family cases. Still, the duration of a divorce will depend on many factors.
There are some requirements that will apply to all divorces. First, the parties must have lived in Kentucky for 180 days before filing. Second, the parties must have been separated for 60 days before the divorce can be final. If the parties have minor children in common, the court will not enter a divorce decree until 60 have passed since the divorce was filed. Moreover, divorcing parents must attend the Families in Transition program. This divorce education program is mandated in all counties for parents of minor children and can take several weeks to complete.
Of course, if the parties settle all issues outside of court, the process can move forward very quickly. Uncontested divorce can be accomplished in matter of days if the parties have no minor children in common. In fact, the Petition, Settlement Agreement, and Decree can all be filed at the same time.
If the parties do have minor children, then the divorce will be finalized only after 60 days have elapsed after the initial Petition is filed, even if the parties settled all issues before filing.
Litigated divorces may take many months, or even years, depending on what issues cannot be resolved by agreement. Some litigated divorces require a hearing only on one or two contested issues. Because the hearing can be of short duration, it may only take a matter of weeks before the scheduled hearing. If all issues must be tried before the judge, it will likely take many months before the Court can conduct the trial.
Most courts prefer that the clients attempt to resolve their issue out of court before scheduling a hearing or a trail. In Jefferson County, the local rules of court do not allow for a judge to conduct a trial unless the clients have first attempted mediation (there are a few exceptions to this rule).
Divorces involving issues of custody often involve custodial evaluations, which require the children and parents to undergo an assessment by a trained psychologist. This process itself may take several months.
In summary, some divorces may be final in less than one week, while others may take more than one year. The only way to understand the likely timeline for your divorce is to consult with an experienced divorce attorney who can assess your needs and the likelihood of litigation. Contact us at 502-589-9353 to set up a free consultation with our family law attorneys today.