How to File for Divorce in Kentucky Without a Lawyer?

Man considering divorce while holding wedding ring

Divorce without a lawyer – some fear it and think they won’t be able to do it on their own, and others believe they can cope even with it even if their case is complicated. The truth is that to get a marriage dissolution that does not require you to hire a lawyer and, thus, helps you save a lot of money, you should reach a complete agreement with your spouse regarding your divorce. If this is your case, read this article to find out how to complete your DIY divorce quickly and successfully.

Beginning a No-Fault Divorce in Kentucky

Before you start filling out the forms or filing, it is important to:

  • Check if you meet the residency requirements.
  • Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page regarding your divorce.

1. Check if You Meet Kentucky Residency Requirements for Divorce

In Kentucky, in order to obtain a divorce, either the petitioner (a person who starts a divorce) or the defendant (the second party) must reside in the state for at least 180 days. Besides, you have to live in the state at the moment of filing. Meeting residency requirements is a must, and if 180 have not passed yet for either you or your spouse, you will have to wait.

2. Reach mutual agreement

couple reaching the mutual agreement on divorce matters
Reaching a mutual agreement on divorce can help streamline the process and reduce potential conflicts.

In Kentucky, uncontested divorce is a possibility only if both spouses are in agreement. It is necessary to determine how you will divide your finances, assets, property, and debts and if either of you requires spousal support. If you have kids, it is also necessary to reach a custody agreement and, based on it, decide who will pay child support and what it will amount to.

Since Kentucky is a no-fault state, the only legal grounds for divorce are an irretrievable breakdown with or without the other spouse’s agreement that the marriage cannot be saved. Irretrievable breakdown generally means that a particular factor in a marriage makes it impossible for spouses to reconcile. Both spouses need to be in agreement on it to proceed without contested issues.

Steps for Filing for Divorce in Kentucky Without a Lawyer

Steps to getting a divorce in KY without a lawyer include (but are not limited to) the following:

Step 1. Prepare the Necessary Forms

preparing documents for filing for divorce in Kentucky
Preparing documents for filing a divorce is a time-consuming process.

There are many different Kentucky divorce forms – it is often best to read the description of each one to determine if you need it. The most common forms in KY are:

  • The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage – the first form that you must fill out and file with the court to start a marriage dissolution process.
  • A Marital Settlement Agreement – a document that you create together with your spouse where you put on record all the agreements concerning your marriage, such as child custody/support, alimony, property, assets, and debts division, etc.
  • Civil Summons – a document that notifies the second party that the dissolution of marriage has been requested.

There will be more financial, child-related, and other kinds of forms. If you struggle with finding the right paperwork, you can always take advantage of an online divorce service, which will provide you with the necessary forms and fill them out for you.

Step 2. Complete the Forms

woman signing the papers for divorce
Woman preparing the documents for divorce.

Completing divorce papers requires attention and precision. If you present the court with incorrect or insufficient information, your forms may be rejected, or you may be required to restart the divorce process at any point.

Make sure you have thoroughly read and understood the instructions in each form. Some fields in your papers must be left blank or cannot be filled out if you have already completed other fields. Finally, it is advisable to review all the papers before signing them to see whether there are no typos or inaccurate data.

preparing documents for filing for divorce

Step 3. File the Forms

filing for divorce in Kentucky with a local clerk
Filing for divorce in Kentucky with the local clerk.

Before filing your papers, you must sign them and, if necessary, do it in front of a notary. Filing for divorce in Kentucky, choose the local court in the county where you or your spouse live. You will have to pay a filing fee, which ranges from $115 to $250, depending on the county. If you have financial difficulties and can prove it, the costs can be waived – you need to file an additional form to request it.

Step 4. Serve Your Spouse

serving spouse with papers by email server
Serving spouse with divorce papers by mail.

Providing your spouse with copies of the paperwork is the next important step in getting a divorce. According to Kentucky laws, you are not allowed to deliver the paperwork to your spouse on your own. Here are the ways you can serve the defendant in KY:

  • Ask a county sheriff to hand the paperwork to the second party for a fee.
  • Hire a professional process server. It will cost you at least $50.
  • Ask the court clerk to send the papers via certified mail with the return receipt.

Step 5. Await Response

awaiting for spouse's response for starting a divorce

When you’re done with serving the papers, you will need to wait until your spouse provides the answer. If they agree with all the terms in the paper, they must file a response with the court. According to the law, your spouse has 20 days after they receive the form copies to provide their answer. Your spouse also has a right to refuse the service or give no answer. However, it will not seriously affect the Kentucky divorce process, and the court will make a default judgment.

Step 6. Attend Court Hearings (if applicable)

attending a divorce court hearing in Kentucky
The goal of the legal process of divorce is to conclude the legal relationship of a marriage, and to resolve matters incident to the divorce.

Even though you filed for an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse may need to be present at the final hearing. Note that there will be a 60-day waiting period before you can get a hearing date, and you will also have to complete preliminary disclosures of financial information.

During the hearing, the judge may ask you some questions to make sure that your marriage is irretrievably broken and that you are truly in agreement. They also have to review the paperwork to see if everything is in order and then enter the decree.

Step 7. Finalize the Divorce

Please note that your dissolution of marriage is final as soon as the judge signs the final decree. You can get your divorce certificate from the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics or order it online. You will have to pay $6 for each copy of your certificate.

Is Filing for Divorce in Kentucky Without a Lawyer a Good Idea?

Getting a divorce without an attorney is a good idea only if you have no disagreement with your spouse that must be resolved in court. Only in such cases hiring a lawyer is optional. Understandably, a do-it-yourself divorce may be confusing due to all the steps you need to take.

In this case, an easy way to file for divorce is to get paperwork help from an online service. Kentucky online divorce is a quick and cheap way to get your marriage dissolution paperwork and instructions. This will help you go through each divorce step with a full understanding of what you are doing and confidence that you can do it on your own without mistakes.

preparing documents for filing for divorce