Louisville Divorce Attorneys
Dissolving a marriage is a major decision with life-changing consequences. Once the decision has been made to end your marriage, it is often accompanied by a lot of anxiety and uncertainty about the future. “Where am I going to live?” “What will happen with my kids?” “Will I have enough money to survive on my own?” These are just a few examples of the types of questions divorcing spouses typically ask. With so many major changes ahead and issues to resolve during the process, it is important to have an experienced divorce attorney in your corner to strongly advocate for your rights and interests.
At John H. Ruby & Associates, we understand that getting a divorce is an unsettling experience, and we are here to provide the skilled and personalized representation you need to help get you through this painful process, so you can put it behind you and move forward with your life. Since 1999, our firm has represented countless clients in Kentucky for divorce and other family legal matters. We have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and the important issues that must be resolved.
Each circumstance is unique, and there is no cookie cutter solution that applies to everyone who is facing a divorce. We take the time to listen and understand our clients’ specific needs and concerns, so we can develop an individualized solution that addresses those needs while fully protecting their interests. We also have experience working with high net worth individuals going through divorce.
Requirements for a Kentucky Divorce
In order to file for divorce in Kentucky, at least one of the parties must be a resident of the state or stationed at a military base in the state and have been residing (or present) in the state for at least 180 days. Divorcing spouses are also required to live apart for at least 60 days before the final divorce decree is entered. Living apart may mean living in separate residences or residing under the same roof without sexual cohabitation.
Kentucky is a “no fault” state, which means the actions or omissions of either spouse cannot be used as grounds for a divorce. The only acceptable grounds are that one or both parties believe the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” If one of the spouses does not agree to the divorce, the court, after hearing, determines whether or not the marriage is irretrievably broken. As part of the hearing, the court may order counseling or a conciliation conference.
Kentucky law recognizes legal separation (also known as a “divorce from bed and board” or a “limited divorce”) as an alternative to a full divorce. Couples may choose to legally separate for religious purposes, to retain certain benefits, or as an interim step if they need some time apart from each other but they are not totally sure they want to get divorced.
With a legal separation, couples can address most of the issues that would be dealt with during a divorce; such as child support, child custody, spousal maintenance, and division of assets. However, since the marriage is not officially dissolved, the spouses are forbidden from getting remarried. If a couple is legally separated for at least a year, they can come back to the court and have their legal separation changed to a divorce.
What is meant by conciliation?
In case one spouse does not agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the judge may delay (adjourn) the case for between 30 to 60 days. In this timeframe, the judge may order you to engage in conciliation.
Conciliation is similar to therapy. The only difference is that the spouses meet with a neutral third party (the conciliator). The purpose of this meeting is to explore the likelihood of reconciliation. The conciliator will mediate and ask both spouses to talk openly about the marriage. This may enable the couple to address their differences.
Following the adjournment, the couple will have another hearing in front of the judge to decide if your marriage meets the criteria for divorce. It is within the power of the court to ask a couple to participate in conciliation.
But a judge cannot require spouses to dismiss the divorce proceedings unless it is what they want. The court will usually approve the divorce unless both parties agree that their relationship is improving, and there might be a possibility of reconciliation.
Adjournment of the proceedings is the worst-case scenario even if one party does not agree with the divorce. Either spouse can’t stop the other from acquiring a divorce.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Kentucky
The most important factor in determining how long a divorce will take and how much it will cost is whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce is one in which the parties agree on the terms and conditions, and they are willing to sign a written agreement settling the pertinent issues such as child custody/visitation, child support, disposition of marital assets and debts, spousal support, etc.
Uncontested divorces can be completed fairly quickly, usually shortly after the mandatory 60-day waiting period. Although couples can do an uncontested divorce by filling out the forms on their own and filing them with the court, it is still a good idea to work with an attorney. An attorney can ensure that the pleadings are drafted properly, and that all agreements are legally enforceable. This helps prevent legal complications later on if a dispute ever arises.
A contested divorce is one in which the parties are not in agreement on at least some of the major issues, or maybe even the divorce itself. These types of divorces can be more complex, costly, and protracted, depending on the situation. In a contested divorce, parties may be required to attend multiple hearings, and mediation may be ordered to settle various issues. If spouses cannot resolve these issues through negotiation or mediation, the court ultimately rules of them at the Final Hearing. When a divorce is contested, it is of the utmost importance to have an attorney in your corner who is both a skilled litigator and strong negotiator.
Post-Decree Modifications and Enforcement
After a divorce has been finalized, circumstances often arise that warrant a revisiting of the original decree. For example, if the ex-spouse who is paying child support and spousal maintenance experiences a job loss, these payments may become a financial hardship. If there is a material change in circumstances, either party can petition the court for a post-decree modification.
Another common and unfortunate occurrence is when one party is uncooperative and refuses to abide by what is written in the final divorce settlement. One of the best-known examples is a non-custodial parent who stops paying child support for no valid reason. If this person shows no willingness to be reasonable and you have exhausted other options, you may need to go back to court to enforce the terms and conditions of the original decree.
Common Mistakes Individuals Make During a Divorce
Mistake #1: Not Hiring Competent Legal Counsel
While you may have friends or relatives who have gone through a divorce, they are not lawyers. Often, the counsel attorneys provide differs from what those around you say. Don’t take legal advice from any person other than a lawyer who is committed to your case.
Mistake #2: Allowing Revenge, Anger, or Guilt Become Motivating Factors
During your divorce process, it is entirely acceptable to experience various emotions. But it is not acceptable or judicious to take action in your divorce on the basis of these emotions. Allowing emotions, rather than logical reasoning, to run the show can be detrimental for you in the future. Working with a therapist or family counselor may be helpful in some cases to ensure that you are making rational decisions regarding your divorce.
Mistake #3: Consenting to a One-Sided Settlement Agreement
Irrespective of who initiated divorce proceedings, do not make or accept a one-sided settlement agreement. While you may be tempted to end the divorce as rapidly as possible by signing the first agreement you are presented with, it is very hard, if not entirely impossible, to undo an agreement that you enter into voluntarily.
Mistake #4: Not Reviewing the Documentation for Accuracy
Attorneys are trained to help you prepare and review all the divorce documentation. Before you sign the paperwork, ensure that you check it thoroughly, particularly if it was drafted by the adversarial lawyer. You should not sign any documents unless they represent an accurate picture of your agreement.
Mistake #5: Not Considering Taxes at the Time of the Settlement Agreement
Often, a divorce settlement agreement involves marital asset division and the award of spousal and child support. As with any agreement concerning the division of funds and assets, it is critical to understand any tax implications that may be applicable.
Mistake #6: Failure or Refusal to Communicate with your Spouse
The best settlement agreements are often entered into by partners who are willing and able to communicate their desires to each other. If you maintain open communication with your spouse during your divorce and settlement negotiations, you may be able to save the expenses associated with a prolonged and contentious court battle.
Mistake #7: Not being Forthright your Attorney
Your lawyer can only work with the information that you provide. If you do not disclose everything about your case to your lawyer or mislead them on the essential facts of your case, you will place yourself at a serious disadvantage that might do permanent damage to your case. Regardless of the issue, be straightforward and honest with your lawyer.
Mistake #8: Not Altering your Will or Estate Plan to Reflect your Life Changes
Sometimes the occurrence of significant life events renders any previously executed will outdated. Therefore, it is critical to revise your will or estate plan after your divorce. This will ensure that your real desires are carried out upon your death, especially if you choose to remarry.
Mistake #9: Making Verbal Agreements with an Estranged Spouse
If you and your ex-partner continue to enjoy an amicable relationship during your divorce, don’t make the mistake of entering into side verbal agreements with your spouse on issues in your divorce. Typically, it is very challenging, if not impossible, to enforce verbal agreements, particularly if your written agreement purports to encompass you and your spouse’s entire settlement.
Mistake #10: Using your Kids as Pawns or Treating Them as Grown Ups
Divorce has a significant effect on children. Thus, do not force your kids to carry the further burden of acting as an intermediary between you and your spouse or filling the void left in your household by your spouse’s departure. This may cause your child to resent you, your spouse, or both of you. It can potentially lead to permanent damage to your relationship with your child.
Speak with a Compassionate Kentucky Divorce Attorney
Getting divorced is a stressful process, and you may be overwhelmed with thoughts about what will happen in the future. At the law offices of John H. Ruby & Associates, we understand what you are going through, and we are ready to provide the guidance, support, and legal representation you need to get you through this difficult time. For a personalized consultation with one of our experienced divorce lawyers, call our office today at 502-895-2626. You may also send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form or stop by our Louisville office at your convenience. You may also see our frequently asked questions page about divorce.