When people file for divorce, they are filing a pleading, which is a document filed with the Court. In Kentucky, the initial document is a Petition. The Statute governing this initial pleading is KRS 403.150. All proceedings in a Divorce case are required to follow the Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure, and non-lawyers, representing themselves, are required to follow these rules, even if they don’t know what they are. The purpose of this blog post is to detail what the initial petition must contain; subsequent posts will cover additional pleadings that are required.
The initial pleading must be “Verified” which means that it must be taken under oath. A notary must sign that the person filing stated the Petition is true. This serves the purpose of ensuring that the person filing for divorce understands the seriousness of what is occurring.
The Petition must allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken. When you file for divorce, you are saying that there isn’t anything that would make you want to stay married. Once again, this serves the purpose of ensuring that the person filing for divorce understands the seriousness of what is occurring.
The Petition also must state the age, occupation, and residence of each party, and his or her length of residence in this state. If domestic violence and abuse are alleged by either party, the party filing the petition shall certify the existence and status of any domestic violence protective orders. The party filing the petition and alleging the abuse may substitute the party's attorney's address as the address of the party and any minor children. It must state the date of marriage, and where it was registered, that the parties are separated, and the date it occurred, The names, ages, and addresses of any living infant children of the marriage, and whether the wife is pregnant. It must recite any arrangements as to custody, visitation, and support of the children and the maintenance of a spouse. It then must recite the relief that is being sought, which would include the entry of the divorce decree, child support, and support of the parties, division of the property, including any debt, and return of any non-marital property. Anything specific that you are requesting should be listed in the petition. Most lawyers have a form and will ask you to complete it so they can complete the petition. Completing this form helps the lawyer be efficient in working for you, and ultimately can result in decreasing the time spent on your case. Remember, you pay your lawyer for his or her time, and you want them as efficient as possible.
The other party is served by the Court system, either by certified mail, or by the sheriff, or by a special bailiff. They may also pick up a copy at the Courthouse, and waive service. The person filing the case pays for service on the other party. Waiver of service is free if the other party will actually pick it up, or sign a document called “Entry of Appearance and Waiver.” Certified mail is the next least expensive, followed by service by Sheriff and then by Special Bailiff. If you do not have a service of process, you will have to seek service under the civil rules, which will be much more expensive, and which will be discussed in a subsequent blog post.
My daughter and I have a family law firm and are divorce attorneys. Practicing family law, we quite often meet people who say they will have an uncontested divorce. The initial blog posts I am doing will focus on the forms that must be filed in an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorces resolve all issues of child support and child custody. If you are arguing over the time a child will spend with each parent, you don’t have an uncontested divorce. Child support law in Kentucky closely follows the Kentucky Child Support Guidelines, and any deviation from the Guidelines has to be supported with a sufficient reason. My daughter and I are experienced child custody and child support attorneys. Sometimes having an experienced family court attorney explain the law of child support to you is all that is needed to turn a contested case into an uncontested divorce. We practice primarily in Shelby, Spencer, Henry, Jefferson, and Oldham Counties.