How to File for Legal Separation in Kentucky

Each state has its own family laws that govern things like marriage and the dissolution of that marriage. In addition to the option of getting a divorce from your spouse – which will effectively put an end to the marriage – you can also choose the option of going in for a legal separation. While there are some major similarities between divorce and legal separation, these are two distinct legal terms.

The state of Kentucky doesn’t limit its citizens to just divorce if they want to end a relationship. If you have already been living apart for two months, you can file a petition for legal separation. The process and the end result of both these options vary greatly. Many people opt for legal separation because there may not be as much social stigma attached to it as a divorce. Others opt for this because of their religious beliefs – many religious prohibit the concept of a divorce. Finally, other couples choose to go for separation to benefit from existing insurance policies or to deal with tax issues.

If you are a resident of the state of Kentucky and are looking to file a petition for legal separation, we have put together a guide that will help you understand the process better.


Legal Separation vs Divorce

As discussed before, divorce and legal separation are two distinct ways of ending a relationship. If you file a petition for divorce, you are effectively asking the court to end your marriage legally. As Kentucky is a no-fault divorce state, you don’t need to have a specific allegation against your spouse to ask for a divorce. All you need is to prove that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that all efforts that were made at reconciliation have failed to bring the couple together. Once your divorce is finalized, you can even remarry another person.

Legal separation is very different from a divorce, despite having some similarities. For example, even in a legal separation, you only need to prove that the marriage is beyond repair. You will be asked to work out details of property and asset division, custody of children, support and other such factors that are usually taken into consideration at the time of divorce. However, if you end up getting back with your spouse at the end of this phase, the agreement will lapse.

In order to file a petition for legal separation, the state of Kentucky requires you and your spouse to live separately for at least 60 days. If you don’t have the resources to move into separate residences, you need to be living in separate rooms and there should be no sexual relations in this period of time. Keep in mind that if your spouse has already filed for divorce, you will not be able to file a petition for legal separation.


Requirements and Grounds for Legal Separation

The requirements and grounds for legal separation differ from state to state. In Kentucky, the primary requirement is that either your spouse or you needs to be a resident of the state of Kentucky for a period of at least six months before the petition for legal separation is filed. Kentucky also allows members of armed services, who have been stationed in Kentucky, to file legal separation actions in the state. However, they need to be stationed in Kentucky for at least 180 days before the petition is filed.

Finally, one of you – you or your spouse – needs to be a resident of the county where you are filing the legal separation action. You cannot file the petition in any county of your liking.

In terms of grounds for legal separation, the state of Kentucky uses a rather loose term. The only grounds for a legal separation in the state are an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This translates to differences between the couple that cannot be dealt with by living together.


Procedure for Legal Separation in Kentucky

All states have different rules and regulations that govern how people can end their marriages. The state of Kentucky has a set procedure that needs to be followed if you are looking to file a petition for legal separation in a court near you. Keep reading to find out more!

Step One: Check If You Are Eligible for Legal Separation

  • The first step of the process is to find out whether you are eligible for a legal separation. You need to be living separately from your spouse for at least 60 days before you can petition the court for legal separation. If you are living in same house but not engaging in sexual relations, you will be eligible for legal separation.
  • Another point that you need to consider is whether your spouse has filed for divorce. If one party has already filed for divorce, you cannot file a petition for legal separation.
  • Finally, ensure that either side is a resident of the state for at least 6 months and also a resident of the county that you are going to file the petition.

Step Two: File Petition for Legal Separation

  • Once you are sure that you are eligible for legal separation, you will be required to visit the county courthouse and file a petition for legal separation.
  • For this step, you may want to consider hiring an attorney, as the form can get quite complicated and confusing because of the number of sections.
  • You will be required to pay a filing fee at this point. It is important to note that this fee differs from county to county. Exact information will be available at the courthouse.
  • Once the petition is filed, you will be required to fill a form that will be used to deliver a summons and a copy of the petition to your spouse.

Step Three: Agree upon Terms of Separation

  • The next step is negotiating the terms of your separation from your spouse. You will be required to draw out a formal document after considering all aspects of your finances, as well as the custody of your children.
  • File this document with the court, if both parties are able to agree with the final outcome.
  • If there is a disagreement and you cannot reach a solution, the matter will need to be brought in front of a judge, who will hear the case.

Step Four: Decree of Legal Separation

  • In order to finalize the separation, you will be required to make a motion for entering a Decree of Legal Separation in front of a judge, which will state that you are married but legally separated. After this, you cannot file for divorce for one year.


Legal Separation Costs

Many people opt for legal separation as they think that this is the cheaper option out. In many cases, this is simply a misconception. While the filing fee will not exceed a couple of hundred dollars, the cost can keep adding up if you are unable to reach a consensus in terms of the separation agreement as well as the support and custody issues. If the process grows longer, you will have to pay more and more money in terms of lawyer fees. In addition to this, if you choose to get counseling, that can also add to the overall cost.

If you are representing yourself and don’t have the financial documents to pay the filing fee, you can apply for a fee waiver. The court might need to see some documents that show your financial condition in such situations.


Helpful Tips

  • Even if you are inclined towards doing everything on your own – even representing yourself in the court – you may want to consider the option of legal assistance. The documents and forms involved in filing for legal separation can be quite complex and difficult to understand for people who do not have experience in the field of law. Getting a lawyer on board will simplify the process for you and allow you to make more informed decisions.
  • Legal separation works almost like a trial divorce. If you are looking at reconciliation, this is a great time frame to sort out differences with your spouse. Even if you aren’t looking to get back together, this is a good way to put together a separation agreement that will be helpful at a later stage.
  • It is important to remember that a legal separation is not the end of the marriage. You are still legally married to your spouse so neither party can get married again. You need to get a divorce in order to remarry.


In the state of Kentucky, a legal separation only stands for a period of 12 months. After this, you will have to take a call on whether you are ready to get back with your spouse or if you want to file a petition for divorce. After going through this article, however, you will find yourself better equipped to deal with the complex proceedings of a legal separation. That is important if you want to put forward your points more effectively and get the custody and support (even temporary maintenance) to keep up your current standard of living.

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