Kentucky’s Family Court

Kentucky’s Family Court has jurisdiction over all family cases. Established in 1991, it has since earned recognition for how well it has served Kentucky’s families and children. The main benefit of Family Court is that a single judge can deal with all of a family’s issues holistically instead of multiple judges hearing separate issues piecemeal.

Today, Kentucky’s Family Court serves 71 counties, covering 3.2 million citizens.

Map of Kentucky counties showing which have a Family Court site and which do not
Counties in grey do not have a Family Court site

What Kentucky Family Court judges preside over is defined by Kentucky state law (KRS 23A.100):

  • Dissolution of marriage
  • Spousal support and equitable
  • Distribution
  • Child custody, support and visitation
  • Paternity, adoption
  • Domestic violence
  • Dependency, neglect and abuse
  • Termination of parental rights
  • Status Offenses (runaways, truancy, beyond control)

The judges of Kentucky’s Family Court system are no different than their peers in the rest of the Circuit Court. As Kentucky’s Court of Justice website describes “As a division of Circuit Court, which is the highest trial court in Kentucky, Family Court employs full-time judges with the same qualifications as those who serve the other divisions of Circuit Court.

You can find the your county’s court clerk’s contact information on the Kentucky Court of Justice website (select your county from the “Find a court” dropdown menu). Here you can also see which judges preside for a given jurisdiction and the local rules for each family court.

Map of which judges preside over which family courts in Kentucky
You can see which judge oversees the Family Court for a given county on the Kentucky Court of Justice website.

Thanks to a 2002 vote, the Kentucky Family Court is now part of the Kentucky state constitution. During that vote, 75% of voters approved making the Family Court permanent and there was majority support in all 120 counties.

If there is no Family Court in your jurisdiction, the circuit judge may appoint a “domestic relations commissioner” who will hear testimony from each spouse and make recommendations to the judge about domestic relations matters.