There are many different types of divorce in Kentucky. Most Court allow for simple divorces that do not require either party to appear before a judge.  There are also cases that are litigated before a Judge or domestic relations commissioner.  More and more, Kentucky is seeing alternative methods of reaching divorce settlements, such as divorce mediation and collaborative divorce.

All divorces must be filed with a court.  No matter what type of divorce a person pursues, there are specific documents and procedures required by the courts. This article explores the procedures and documents that are required to begin any divorce.

Divorce Documents:

The initiating document is called the Petition for Dissolution, or Petition for short.  This is often colloquially referred to as “divorce papers” by spouses who are served with a divorce Petition. This document sets out general information about the parties (the husband and wife) as well as their marriage and any minor children born of the marriage.  This document must also contain the jurisdictional basis that allows the court to preside over the divorce. This document rarely contains detailed information about the case.  Because Kentucky does not require a showing of fault in order to get a divorce, the Petition rarely assigns blame or otherwise discusses the reason the marriage is broken.

Most Petitions contain the names, ages and occupations of the parties, the place and date of the marriage, the date of separation, and how long the Petitioner (the spouse asking for the divorce) has lived in Kentucky before filing the divorce. If the parties have minor children, the Petition must list specific information about the addresses of the children for the five years preceding the divorce filing.

The Petition also lists the relief sought, namely the divorce and any other financial relief such as child support and maintenance.

Along with the Petition, the Petitioner must file a case data sheet, which lists the names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and phone numbers of all parties and minor children.

The Petition must also be accompanied by a form VS300, which lists much of the same information as the Petition.  This form is sent to the Department of Vital Statistics in Frankfort once the divorce is finalized.

The Filing Procedure

The Petition, case Data Sheet and VS300 are filed with the Circuit Court Clerk’s office.  In some counties, there will be a specific office for the Family Court division of the Circuit Court.  The Court will create a file for your divorce that will eventually contain all pleadings in your divorce.  At the time of filing, you will required to pay a filing fee, which will vary depending on the county.  In Jefferson County, for instance, the filing fee for a divorce filed by an attorney is $153.

Once the initial divorce documents are filed, the Petition must be served on the other spouse.  This can be accomplished in a number of ways, including by certified mail, by sheriff, or by personal process server.  Until the spouse is served with the divorce papers, the Court cannot move forward with the divorce process.

Summary

In summary, all divorces require at least the following 3 documents:

1) Petition for Dissolution

2) Case Data Sheet

3) Form VS300

These 3 documents are filed with the Circuit Court Clerk’s office and a filing fee is paid.  The documents are then served on the spouse.

This article is meant to give a simplistic overview of the initial divorce filing requirements. The contents of each case, like the details of each marriage, vary greatly.  The initial documents often set the tone for the entire divorce. For a more comprehensive overview of the divorce filing process please contact us to set up a consultation with an experienced Kentucky divorce lawyer.

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