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Kentucky Family Law

Kentucky Family Law


Family law is an area of law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations, including marriage, adoption, divorce, child custody and support, and more. It is an important and sensitive area of law that deals with issues that are fundamental to the structure and stability of families, relationships, and society as a whole.

Kentucky is one of the many states in the US with its unique set of family laws that govern marital relationships, child custody, and support. In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of family law in Kentucky, including recent updates and government resources.

Marriage in Kentucky

Marriage in Kentucky is considered a civil contract between a man and a woman. The legal age of marriage in Kentucky is eighteen years old. However, those who are sixteen or seventeen years old may be married with parental consent, and those under sixteen may be married with approval by the court.

Same-sex marriage was legalized in Kentucky in 2015 following the landmark Supreme Court case, Obergefell v. Hodges. This means that same-sex couples in Kentucky have the same legal rights and protections as opposite-sex couples when it comes to marriage.

Kentucky also recognizes common law marriages, which are unions without a formal marriage license or ceremony. Common law marriages are valid in Kentucky if the couple has lived together for some time and presents themselves as married, though the courts may need strong evidence to prove this.

Divorce in Kentucky

Divorce is the legal process of dissolving a marriage. In Kentucky, divorce can be categorized into two main types: fault-based and no-fault divorce.

Fault-based divorce is one where one spouse can claim a specific wrongdoing by the other, such as adultery, abandonment, or abuse, as grounds for divorce. The other spouse may contest these allegations, and the court will make a judgment based on the evidence presented.

No-fault divorce is one where neither spouse is blamed, and the divorce is based on incompatibility. Kentucky is a no-fault divorce state, which means that a couple can divorce without assigning blame to either spouse. They must only show that they have irreconcilable differences that have led to the breakdown of the marriage that cannot be repaired.

Couples seeking a no-fault divorce in Kentucky must have lived separately for at least sixty days before filing for divorce, and they must have a written agreement on the division of property, child custody, and support. Alternatively, the couple may have tried to reconcile their differences but failed.

Child custody in Kentucky

Child custody in Kentucky is determined based on the best interests of the child, and several factors are taken into account. Kentucky recognizes two types of custody: physical custody and legal custody.

Physical custody refers to the right of a parent or guardian to have the child live with them. Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to the right to make important decisions on behalf of the child, such as education and healthcare.

There are several types of child custody arrangements in Kentucky, including sole custody, joint custody, and shared custody. Sole custody is where one parent has primary physical and legal custody of the child, and the other parent may have visitation rights. Joint custody is where both parents share physical custody, and legal custody is either shared or granted to one parent. Shared custody is where each parent has physical custody of the child for an equal amount of time, and both have legal custody.

Kentucky courts encourage parents to develop a parenting plan that outlines the specifics of physical custody and visitation schedules, along with agreements on decision-making and other parental responsibilities. However, if the parents cannot agree, the court will make a decision based on the best interests of the child.

Child support in Kentucky

Child support refers to the financial obligation of a non-custodial parent to provide for their child’s needs, including food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. In Kentucky, child support is calculated using a formula that takes into account the income of both parents, the number of children, and other factors.

The Kentucky Child Support Guidelines outlines the formula used by the state, which takes into account the income of both parents, the number of children, and other expenses, such as healthcare and daycare costs. A judge or hearing officer will use these guidelines to determine the amount of child support that the non-custodial parent will pay.

In addition to regular child support payments, non-custodial parents in Kentucky may be required to contribute to expenses related to their child’s education, medical care, and other needs.

Domestic violence and protective orders in Kentucky

Domestic violence is a serious issue that can have significant impacts on families and individuals. Kentucky has laws in place to protect victims of domestic violence and provide them with legal recourse.

In Kentucky, a protective order, also known as a restraining order, is a legal document that prohibits an abuser from accessing their victim or stalking them. A protective order can also prevent the abuser from contacting their victim, including through phone calls, emails, and social media.

To obtain a protective order, the victim must file a petition with the court detailing the abuse they have suffered and the reasons why they need protection. If the court determines that the victim has been abused or is at risk of being abused, a protective order will be issued.

Protective orders can be temporary or permanent, and they can be modified or extended if necessary. Violating a protective order in Kentucky is a criminal offense and can result in jail time, fines, and other penalties.


Family law is an essential and sensitive area of law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations. Kentucky’s family law has unique laws that govern various aspects of family life, including marriage, divorce, child custody, child support, and domestic violence. Understanding these laws can help families navigate the legal system and protect their rights and interests.

Government resources, such as the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Kentucky Bar Association, offer valuable information and services for those seeking help with family legal issues in Kentucky. It is essential to seek legal counsel from reputable family law attorneys if you are facing legal issues related to your family.

Guide to Kentucky Family Law

While other areas of Kentucky law focus on lawsuits or criminal defense, KY family law attorneys and judges focus on the best interests of children who are caught in the middle of family changes.  Understanding Kentucky family law can help you navigate the family court system and get the resolution you’re hoping for.  This guide will cover some of the basic areas of KY family law so that you can have a starting point for additional research.  If you need more in-depth information about Kentucky family law, you may want to consult a family law attorney or look at other pages on this website.

Kentucky Family Law and Child Custody

Some of the most difficult cases involving KY family law are about child custody.  It can be tough for parents to divide their parenting responsibilities, and the family courts in Kentucky will look at a wide variety of factors when determining who should be awarded custody.  If you are involved in a custody dispute, you may want to talk to a Kentucky family law attorney who can give you competent legal advice for your particular situation.

If you are seeking custody, KY family law allows you to ask for either legal custody (which allows you to be involved in decision-making about your child) or both physical and legal custody (in which your child also lives with you).  If one parent is moving out of the state, Kentucky family law allows child custody arrangements to be revisited.

Usually, KY family law will result in one parent being awarded primary physical custody, while the other parent will have visitation rights.  Usually, visitation will be unsupervised, but Kentucky family law allows for supervised visitation if there is reason to believe that unsupervised visits would put a child at risk.

KY Family Law and Child Support

Currently, Kentucky family law determines child support based on an “income shares” model.  The basic expenses of supporting a child are calculated based on the two parents’ combined income, and the non-custodial parent must pay a share of the support amount that is proportional to his or her income.  You may find a table for child support obligations, as well as the full text of this KY family law, at the following website.

Kentucky Family Law and Adoption

Adoptions in Kentucky also require parents to go through the family court system.  If you are interested in adopting a child, family courts must approve the adoption in order to finalize it.  Before you can have an adoption finalized, you will have to go through state or agency qualifying procedures to qualify as an adoptive home.  While most Kentucky residents can adopt a child, the adoption process can take months and requires a home study, including interviews of all household members, an inspection of your house, and a medical examination.  Both domestic and international adoptions will need to be finalized by a Kentucky family court before you can consider your adoption complete.