What Are the Residency Requirements to Get Divorced in Kentucky?

What Are the Residency Requirements to Get Divorced in Kentucky?

It is something that may not jump immediately to mind, but each state has certain residency requirements before a divorce will be granted.  Areas like Reno, Nevada, became famous for its “quickie divorce.”  According to HowStuffWorks Nevada shortened its residency requirements as early as 1898 to try to draw people to their state specifically for divorce.  Kentucky falls somewhere in the middle of the pack with a residency requirement of at least one hundred eighty (180) days in order to get divorced in the Commonwealth.

Residency is important because it is key to the court determining whether it has jurisdiction to even hear the case.  Jurisdiction involves the relationship or contact a person has with the state.  A court’s ability to hear and decide a divorce case is determined by the residency and domicile of a party and his or her spouse. The general rule in the United States is that a person needs to file a divorce action in the state or county where the residency requirements are met.
In Kentucky, there are two basic ways our state can have jurisdiction to enable someone to institute an action for divorce:
  • The person filing the action must have resided in Kentucky for at least one hundred eighty days before the commencement of the action.
  • If, on the other hand, the petitioner (the person filing the action) is a non-resident, the respondent must have resided in Kentucky for at least one hundred eighty days prior to commencement of the action.

Keep in mind that if only the petitioner is a resident of Kentucky, the court will be able to dissolve the marriage, but it will not have jurisdiction to address any of the other issues such as maintenance or property division.  This could set up a situation where you can return to being a single person in Kentucky, but you will have to go back to the other state to resolve the other issues.

Photo courtesy of Tammy Strobel

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