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Louisville KY Family Law Blog

What does the discovery process in divorce entail?

Although mediation is becoming a popular method of negotiating settlement agreements when marriages end, not all Kentucky couples manage to keep communication channels open. The procedures in a litigated divorce are typically more complicated than those avoiding the court. The first steps -- before going to divorce court -- will involve the process known as discovery in which the attorneys of both spouses will try to find out details of the opposition's planned arguments in order to prepare a strong defense strategy.

The discovery process involves five steps, starting with disclosure when both sides can each make a list of documents or other evidence they need for their respective arguments. Next follows interrogatories during which time each spouse can send a list of questions to the other -- often limited in number. Then each party can send the other a list of facts, asking him or her to admit or deny the different statements. This step is known as admissions of fact.

Gray divorces: A costly impact late in life

As someone approaching retirement, the last thing you expected was to be navigating a divorce. Gray divorces, or divorces that take place among Baby Boomers or those married 40 years or longer, are devastating for some. Not only is the relationship ending, but the finances of the couple become a concern.

Fortunately, mediation is a possibility for people in your situation. This allows you to discuss your finances and other factors in your divorce without necessarily needing to take those concerns to court. Mediated divorces cost between $5,000 and $9,000 in most cases. Collaborative divorces cost between $25,000 and $50,000. They both cost thousands less than a litigated divorce, which may end up costing between $75,000 and $150,000 on average. It's worth working together to come up with an appropriate settlement.

Divorce or legal separation -- Which one to choose?

Many married couples in Kentucky develop some relationship problems at times. However, not all rush to file for divorce when conflicts arise. Some couples choose to file for a legal separation, in which an agreement similar to a divorce agreement is signed, which may be converted into a divorce agreement if the ultimate choice is to file for the dissolution of the marriage. The couple will remain married but live separately with a separation agreement that will outline the responsibilities and rights of each spouse.

The agreement will cover child support, custody and visitation if there are children, along with property and debt division and spousal support. If the couple decides to go ahead and change the separation to a divorce after the required period of a legal separation, the court may assume that the separation agreement carried the satisfaction of both parties and simply convert it into a divorce decree. However, if some aspects of the separation agreement proved unworkable, one or both spouses may ask for a new divorce agreement.

Who is entitled to alimony, and for how long?

Spousal support is the term that is used for a court-ordered maintenance paid by one spouse to the other pending or after a divorce, or during a legal separation. The recipient of alimony can be either the husband or the wife. The purpose is to contribute toward the living expenses of the receiving spouse, such as utilities, mortgage or rent, health insurance and other costs. Absent an agreement between the spouses, the court will determine the type of alimony, the amount and the duration as governed by the divorce laws of Kentucky.

Alimony can be permanent or temporary. Factors that the court will consider include the length of the marriage, the age of the spouses and their respective incomes. If the court awards permanent alimony, it typically ceases on the death of either party, remarriage or cohabitation in a romantic relationship of the receiving spouse. Temporary spousal support is more often granted after shorter marriages, and it is usually awarded for no longer than five years to allow one spouse to get re-established financially following a divorce.

Property division: What if one spouse disposes of marital assets?

When it comes to a divorce, Kentucky is an equitable distribution state. The general rule for property divisions is that the spouses must divide their marital assets according to what the court will regard as fair. Divorcing spouses can work out the split themselves; otherwise, the court will do it for them. Sometimes, one spouse might be vindictive and attempt to spend down assets before the property division can take place.

However, there are measures in place to prevent such action. Divorce is a difficult time during which emotions can take over and cause people to do things they would not normally do. To ensure all the marital property is available for distribution, a court order to prevent disposal of assets typically accompanies the divorce papers.

Alimony modification possible under certain circumstances

Court orders that are issued in a Kentucky divorce are binding. However, child support, alimony, child custody and parenting orders may be subject to modification in the future. Life is unpredictable and unforeseen circumstances may hamper a person's ability to oblige. However, the burden to prove significant changes in circumstances will be on the person seeking modification.

When original orders for alimony were issued, it would have been based on the income of the person required to pay spousal support. To convince the court of changed circumstances that renders him or her unable to pay the ordered amount, that person will have to show that the changes were substantial and unavoidable. If job loss is cited as the reason, the court will want to see proof that a significant effort has been made to find employment at a similar level of remuneration before accepting a lower-paying job.

Consider these points when you are co-parenting

One of the hardest things about divorcing when you have a young family is figuring out how to make things work for the children. One of the options that is becoming more popular these days is co-parenting.

In this model, the parents work together to raise the children even though they live in different houses. This isn't always easy to do, but consider these tips to help make it a little easier on you.

Divorce: Some spouses make the breakup rougher than average

Ending a marriage is seldom easy; however, when both parties approach the process like adults, the stress and trauma are sometimes limited. A Kentucky spouse might notice that his or her divorce is heading the way of those that are rougher and more traumatic than the average breakup. Recognizing the signs may help that person to deal with the challenges he or she will be facing.

Difficulty can arise when the other spouse tends to feel ashamed for being vulnerable. This personality type typically bypasses the natural first experience of sadness and goes straight into a state of anger. Another sign of imminent drama is a spouse who automatically tries to make the spouse wanting divorce to feel guilty as if he or she is abandoning the other party and the children. This person ignores the fact that a divorce is the end of a relationship between two adults without necessarily cutting ties with the children.

Divorce: Kentucky parents benefit from new shared custody law

Prior to Governor Matt Bevin signing House Bill 492 into law on April 12, it was common for child custody to be awarded to one parent in Kentucky. One of the two parents typically had to fight for shared custody after divorce. However, many parents are benefiting from the new law that presumes joint custody. Under the new law, custodial arrangements are automatically divided equally, except under certain circumstances.

Naturally, there will be exceptions in cases where the court determines that shared custody might not be in the best interests of the child. This could involve cases in which abuse, neglect or alcohol and drug dependencies are present. In most cases, though, the law in intended to allow parents to share equal parenting time without having to go to court.

The challenges of a high asset divorce

Most people in Kentucky may agree that there is no such thing as an easy divorce. In fact, some are significantly more complicated than others. Any person who is considering a high asset divorce may want to prepare for the challenges it might bring. When high net worth couples decide to end their marriages, there are more assets to divide, often leading to fierce courtroom battles that can prolong the process.

One scenario of potential conflict is a family business in which each spouse played a role. Contention may arise about the division of the company, and each party will likely want an independent valuation of the assets. To bring about a balanced and fair distribution of the business, all its assets will have to be examined, and an evaluation of each spouse's proportional contribution will be required.

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