A divorce is often one of the most challenging legal matters to handle. Not only can the legal issues themselves be complex, but the emotions underlying the case can be strong. The breakup of any relationship can be hard, and it can be difficult to come to a peaceful resolution about important issues such as property division and child custody. In these cases, the assistance of an experienced Lexington divorce attorney can be invaluable.
In Kentucky, there are two basic types of divorces: contested and uncontested. The main difference between them is whether the parties are able to reach an agreement about the terms of the divorce without resorting to an outside party (such as a mediator or a judge) to settle them. Read on to learn more about the Kentucky divorce process, as well as the difference between contested and uncontested divorce.
Kentucky: A No-Fault Divorce State
Kentucky is considered a “no-fault” divorce state. As a Lexington divorce attorney can explain, this means that spouses can get a divorce without having to prove that the other party did something wrong, such as cheating.
A spouse can obtain a divorce simply because he or she does not want to be married anymore. This is important to remember, as it limits the ability of the spouse who may not want to be divorced to challenge the divorce.
A person may file for divorce in any county in which the husband or wife resides. Just one of the spouses must have lived in Kentucky for 180 days before the divorce papers are filed.
If you are served with divorce papers, you will have 20 days to respond to them. A skilled Lexington divorce attorney can represent you and help you through the process. An uncontested divorce can be resolved relatively quickly, while a contested divorce could take months or even years to finalize.
In Kentucky, if one or more issues cannot be settled through an agreement between the parties, it is considered to be a “contested” divorce. If a divorce is contested, then it must be resolved through the legal system. This can be achieved through alternative dispute resolution (such as mediation) or by going to court.
In a typical divorce, the matters that often have to be resolved in order to agree to a divorce include issues related to:
- child custody;
- child support;
- temporary spousal support;
- property division;
- asset distribution; and
- debt allocation.
There are several options for resolving a contested divorce. You and your spouse can choose to undergo mediation. This is a confidential process in which a neutral third party trained in dispute resolution meets with both parties to help you reach an agreement on disputed issues. Your Lexington divorce attorney will be with you throughout the mediation process.
If you do not come to an agreement during mediation, nothing that was discussed at mediation can be used during trial or later proceedings. However, if you do reach an agreement, a settlement agreement is drafted by the mediator and signed by both parties and their attorneys.
In some Kentucky counties, it is standard practice for the parties to undergo mediation before a trial will be scheduled. There are many advantages to mediation. In addition to being most cost-effective than going to trial, this type of alternative dispute resolution allows couples to determine the issues that are really important to them and negotiate arrangements that meet their needs, rather than allowing a judge to fashion a remedy that might not work for either party.
Mediation might not work in every situation. For example, it is not recommended to undergo mediation if you are the victim of domestic violence at the hands of your spouse. If that is the case, be sure to talk to your Lexington divorce attorney about your situation so that your lawyer can advocate for your best interests either in mediation or in the court process.
If mediation fails, couples may resort to litigation. This is the most expensive and time-consuming option, yet it is sometimes necessary if the parties cannot otherwise reach an agreement. Although the majority of Kentucky divorce cases settle without going to trial, there are situations in which the parties cannot agree on major issues.
In Kentucky, divorce cases are heard by judges, not juries. Typically, this judge is experienced in family law and qualified to hear domestic relations cases. Divorce trials can be particularly contentious and require an understanding of the complexities of Kentucky family law as well as the rules of court. That is why it is so important to retain an experienced Lexington divorce attorney to aggressively pursue the best outcome for you and your family.
An uncontested divorce is any divorce where the parties agree on all issues that are required to effectively terminate their marriage. This does not mean that the divorce is amicable. Instead, it simply means that the parties do not require a judge to settle issues such as property division and child custody.
Uncontested divorces have a significant advantage over contested divorces in that they tend to be quicker and less expensive. They can also afford greater privacy, and involve less stress and trauma than contested divorces. While an uncontested divorce can be achieved without a lawyer, it is generally recommended that individuals retain a Lexington divorce attorney to ensure that their rights are protecting while negotiating a divorce.
Work with a Lexington Divorce Attorney
The process of obtaining a divorce can be emotionally draining. Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, it can be challenging to work through the end of your relationship in order to reach a final resolution. A compassionate Lexington divorce attorney can work with you to help you achieve an outcome that meets your needs.
At the Baldani Law Group, we understand the challenges faced by clients going through a divorce. We are experienced in all aspects of Kentucky family law, and pride ourselves in working collaboratively with our clients to help them meet their goals. If resolving the divorce case before trial is not an option, we will aggressively represent you in court to fight for your rights and interests.
If you are considering a divorce or are already in the process, we can help. Contact us today by phone at 859-259-0727 or online to schedule a consultation.