In divorce actions, the party filing a petition for divorce is referred to as the “petitioner” and the other party is known as the “respondent.” Kentucky is a “no fault” divorce state, which means the only grounds for divorce that need to be stated in the petition are “irreconcilable differences.”
Kentucky residents may file a petition for divorce in any county in Kentucky. If the respondent to a divorce action challenges the venue, the divorce may be transferred to a county where one or both of the parties reside.
A self-help packet of forms necessary to file for a divorce is available in the Family Court Division and at the driver’s licenses branches for $10. Packets are available for marriages with or without children.
The filing fee for divorce actions is $148 for parties who are not represented by attorneys and $153 for divorces filed by attorneys on behalf of the parties. If you are representing yourself in your divorce action or if are represented by Legal Aid or a pro bono attorney and believe that you qualify as indigent, you may file a motion to proceed “in forma pauperis,” which allows the filing fee to be waived. Each court makes its own determination of whether a party is indigent. The court generally considers factors such as income, expenses, number of people you support and whether you own an automobile or any property.
Adoption and Termination
Adoptions and termination cases are confidential. Files may not be viewed by the public and specific cases may not be discussed by phone.
Typically, petitions for termination of parental rights are filed by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services or by the attorney who is filing the adoption. However, pro se litigants may also file petitions for termination of parental rights and for adoption. Voluntary termination of parental rights is usually done during the adoption process.
The filing fee for adoptions/terminations is $153 for cases filed by an attorney and $148 for self-represented cases. Those wishing to proceed as self-represented litigants are advised to consult the Jefferson County Law Library and KRS 199.480-490 and KRS 199.500-590. The fee for an amended Kentucky birth certificate following an adoption is $10.
The Adoption Information Form (VS102), used for Kentucky births only, and Applications for Registration of Foreign Births (VS56) are available in the Family Division on the First Floor of the Jefferson County Judicial Center.
Adult adoptees (over 21 years old) who wish to search for their biological parent(s) need to submit a Petition to Inspect Adoption Records form (AOC-290), along with a copy of a valid government-issued photo identification card and birth certificate.
Complaints to establish the paternity of a child may be made by the mother of the child, the putative father of the child or any agency substantially contributing to the support of the child. Petitions to establish paternity are brought by either the Office of the Jefferson County Attorney or the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services or by its designee upon request of the complainant.
Paternity actions are confidential. A court order is required for anyone other than the parties to the action to view the file. No information about the case or the file may be given over the phone. Parties to the action must appear at the Family Division in person and with photo ID to view paternity files.
Once paternity is established, the Family Court judge may also enter orders regarding payment of child support, custody of the child and visitation in the paternity case involving the child.
Dependency, Neglect and Abuse Cases
Family Court handles dependency, neglect and abuse cases. These cases are confidential and deal with allegations of dependency, neglect or abuse of children. You must be a party to the case, the attorney of record or a social worker with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to obtain information about these cases. Information is provided only in person to authorized individuals with a photo ID.
Family Court also handles status cases. Status offenses are those committed by children under the age of 18 that would not be a crime if committed by an adult. Status charges include truancy, runaway, beyond parental control and possession of alcohol or tobacco. These cases are confidential and you must be a party to the case, the attorney of record or a social worker with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to obtain information about these cases. Court liaisons with Jefferson County Public Schools may also access these cases. Information is provided only in person to authorized individuals with a photo ID.
A public defender is appointed to represent the child in court. The Louisville-Jefferson County Public Defender's Corp. is at 719 W. Jefferson St., Louisville, Ky.