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Divorce

Dealing with the complex and emotionally charged issues associated with divorce can be difficult. Hiring an attorney who will aggressively pursue your interests while compassionately guiding you through the dissolution of a marriage is essential. At The Law Office of Jessica Fox Flinn, PLLC, we can help you understand all of the issues involved in a divorce and assist you in making the best decision for your family during this challenging time.

Divorce

Individualized Divorce Services

We recognize that every divorce is different. While many of the issues are similar, child custody, child support, property division, and spousal maintenance, resolutions of these matters vary widely from one case to another. We work closely with each client to understand the issues involved in the divorce, what is important to the client, and if possible, to develop a settlement that allows the client to move forward.

While we strive to work out divorce settlements, we understand that issues such as child custody, alimony, and property division, can be intractable between contentious parties. When divorce litigation is necessary, Jessica Flinn has the skill and experience to effectively represent our clients' interests in court.

Continuing Divorce Services

While some divorces are final once the divorce decree is entered, more are not. Many issues associated with divorce continue for years. The Law Office of Jessica Fox Flinn, PLLC is committed to representing clients dealing with post-divorce modifications of child custody orders, visitation, child support and spousal maintenance.

The Law Office of Jessica Fox Flinn, PLLC knows that facing the dissolution of a family and other legal issues can be confusing and frustrating. You need a lawyer who can explain the process and advocate aggressively on your behalf. The emotional and financial stresses that accompany legal matters, especially divorce, can become overwhelming. Searching for representation that you are comfortable with can prove to be very difficult. Nonetheless, choosing the right attorney is one of the most important decisions you will have to make about your case. If you need representation from a caring and trustworthy attorney, please contact Jessica Flinn at 270-226-1103 for a free consultation.

Family Law: Frequently Asked Questions

In Kentucky, do I have to prove my spouse is at fault in order to get divorced?

By statute, Kentucky is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that either spouse may request a divorce by proving to the court that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” As a result, in seeking a divorce you do not have to prove that your spouse has committed adultery, domestic violence, spousal abuse or otherwise acted in a way justifying dissolution of the marriage. Before a family law judge can dissolve a marriage, he or she must know that you or you and your spouse believe the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Fault will also not play a part in the division of marital property. Usually, unless children are involved, the Judge could not care less why you want a divorce. And when children are involved, he only wants to know if the children are being negatively affected.

What should I do to prepare myself if I am contemplating a divorce?

In Kentucky, as in most states, if you are considering a divorce, you should first think about your safety and well-being as well as that of any minor children. If there is a history or threat of domestic violence or spousal abuse, you need to take steps to protect yourself and your children before any harm occurs. If necessary, you may seek a protection from a court through Emergency Protective Orders and Domestic Violence Orders. These Orders can direct your spouse to stay away from you and it gives law enforcement the right to take action if the Orders are violated.

Next, you should focus on being prepared before initiating divorce proceedings. This includes gathering relevant documents and information to support your claim and familiarizing yourself with all marital assets and liabilities. Starting to collect documents such as credit card statements, mortgage information, bank statements, income tax returns, pay stubs, investment accounts information, and retirement accounts early will make the process much easier. Often spouses do not gather this information until their circumstance becomes desperate and by that time the important documents and information may be difficult to access or may even “disappear.”

Other important steps, depending on your circumstances, may include opening a P.O. Box so you can ensure you are going to receive all important mail during the divorce if you are still living in the same home with your spouse. Additionally, changing all passwords for your individual computer, bank accounts, e-mails, etc., to something that your spouse does not know and cannot guess can be very important to protect you and your confidential information. Also, changing your beneficiaries on insurance policies and modifying your Will to reflect your new intended beneficiaries can be done easily and can make a huge difference if you were to die before the divorce is finalized.

Moreover, preparation also involves having available the funds necessary to pay a divorce attorney’s retainer. You will also need funds to live on during the divorce. I usually recommend that people going through a divorce open a separate checking account that your spouse will not have access to and withdraw one-half of the proceeds from the joint account to give you something to live on. Although temporary orders can be put into place for child support and spousal maintenance during the pendency of the divorce, there is often a lapse in time before these requests can be heard by the Court and you actually receive the money.

Finally, before taking steps toward a divorce, make sure you have a support network of family and friends in place to help you during the divorce proceedings and get legal advice from an experienced Kentucky family law or divorce attorney. The Law Office of Jessica Fox Flinn, PLLC offers a free consultation to discuss your unique situation.

What kinds of issues will be addressed in the divorce proceeding?

Divorce proceedings address different issues depending on the couple’s circumstances. These issues can involve division of marital assets and debts, spousal support, parental responsibility/custody, primary residence of the children, visitation, child support and attorney fees.

When is a divorce considered “uncontested?”

During a divorce, multiple issues will need to be resolved. These include issues such as custody of minor children, visitation, division of marital property and marital debts, spousal support, and child support. At the end of the divorce proceeding, the court will enter its “Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.” This is a court order that will set forth the court’s resolution of all issues applicable to the dissolution of the couple’s marriage. An uncontested divorce is one where the spouses are able to reach an agreement on all of these issues, usually prior to filing the divorce proceedings. If the parties are able to reach agreement on these issues, their agreement should be reduced to writing in the form of a “Separation Agreement and Property Settlement”. The Separation Agreement and Property Settlement will then be presented to the family law court and will form the basis for the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. Because the Settlement Agreement and Property Settlement will govern so many important issues and will be binding on the parties, it should be prepared by an experienced family law attorney.

How does the court determine custody of children?

Custody for minor children can either be “sole” or “joint.” Custody contemplates how major decisions involving minor children will be made. Typically, shared or joint custody is most commonly awarded to both parents. Under joint custody, major decisions such as those involving education, medical care, religious upbringing, etc. for minor children are supposed to be made jointly by the parents. Both parents have equal say and authority in making decisions regarding the child. Under sole custody, those major decisions would be made only by the parent with the sole custody. In determining sole vs. joint custody, the court uses the “best interests of the child” standard and considers many statutorily relevant factors including: (a) The wishes of the parents; (b) The wishes of the child (the older the child the more weight the court will give); (c) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his parent or parents, his siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests; (d) The child's adjustment to his home, school, and community; (e) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved; (f) Evidence of domestic violence.

How does the court determine where my child will live?

Often, clients facing divorce or custody actions are confused about the difference between who will have “custody” of the minor children and where the minor children will actually live. After determining custody, as discussed above, the next job of the court is to determine where or with which parent the children will primarily reside. This parent is often called the “primary residential parent.” The parent not awarded primary residential responsibility will have visitation with the children and the children will secondarily reside with that parent as ordered by the court. To determine primary residential responsibility, the court once again looks at what is in the “best interests of the children.” Most often, excluding any special circumstances, the parent that was the primary caregiver of the child during the marriage will be the primary residential parent after the divorce. It is always recommended that the spouses work together to make a visitation schedule that will work best for all involved. Although the judges making these decisions do their best, you and your spouse know your child the best and therefore, you are the best people to make important decisions like this about your child's life. If you need suggestions of possible schedules, please contact The Law Office of Jessica Fox Flinn, PLLC for ideas on how to divide the time-sharing.

Determination of residential responsibility is particularly important in a divorce as it relates to the payment of child support. Most often, the nonresidential parent will pay child support to the parent awarded primary residential responsibility.

How does the court determine visitation with minor children?

Visitation is based on what the court determines is fair and is in the best interests of the minor children. Kentucky courts favor minor children spending as much time as possible with both parents. Parents can always agree to a visitation schedule that best suites all involved by taking into consideration work schedules, school activities, vacations, etc. However, if parties cannot reach an agreement, the court will order a time-sharing visitation schedule which takes into consideration the age of the child, the parties' work schedule, the child's activities, distance between parties, and any special concerns of the child.

Most counties in Western Kentucky have a “standard visitation schedule” that is ordered by court when parents cannot agree to something different. This schedule usually allows the non-residential parent visitation with the child every other weekend, a weekday evening visit on the weeks with no weekend visitation, and then divides out holidays and school breaks.

How is child support determined?

In Kentucky, child support is among the few areas of family law that is determined according to strict statutory guidelines. In calculating child support, the court looks at the total available income of both spouses, then determines the percentage each spouse’s share bears to the total income of the parents. The percentages are then multiplied by the child support guideline amount, thereby determining the amount for which each spouse is responsible. In addition to basic child support, the court will also determine responsibility for medical and dental care, day care and for special expenses applicable to the couples’ minor children.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky is serious about the collection of child support. When it is ordered, you must pay it and you must pay it on time. Failure to pay child support as ordered can lead to contempt of court charges, criminal charges and even jail time.

When does the court award maintenance or spousal support?

The award of maintenance, also called “spousal support” or “alimony” is determined in the court’s discretion taking into account certain specifically enumerated factors set forth by statute. Some of the listed factors include the standard of living established during the marriage, the duration of the marriage, the age and health condition of the parties, the financial resources available to each party, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party find appropriate employment and all sources of income available to each party. Maintenance may be either temporary, permanent, or for a specific amount of time.

What is “mandatory disclosure” in a dissolution of marriage case?

In order to assure that the parties and the court are fully informed on all issues regarding assets, liabilities and income, the Kentucky Family Law Rules of Procedure set forth requirements for mandatory disclosure. In a divorce proceeding, the parties are each required to complete a financial affidavit which sets forth income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. This document often plays a major role in the dissolution proceeding and each party should prepare it under the careful advice and counsel of an experienced divorce attorney. The parties are also required to exchange other financial information including past tax returns, pay-stubs, deeds, loan applications, financial statements, bank account and brokerage statements, pension plan statements, insurance certificates, and documents supporting a special equity claim or a claim that property is nonmarital. Specific time limits are set for disclosing this information so it is important to contact an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible for assistance.

What do I need to do to prepare for a custody case?

The court always holds paramount what it considers to be in the best interests of children. You must prove that you are what is in the best interest of your child. If you have been and are currently involved in your children's lives, it's important to document your level of commitment and involvement to the court. It is also important to demonstrate how well your child has been doing or will do while in your care. Collecting birthday cards, vacation pictures, little league or school involvement documents, school attendance records and grade reports, as well medical or insurance bills, among other things, demonstrate how deeply you are involved in raising your children. Of course, it is also important that you can prove you are financially able to provide for your child and your parenting is not hindered by anything negative such as drug use or domestic violence. Regardless of how much you may love or care for your children, you must be prepared to document or prove many facts to the court's satisfaction.

ADVANCED WARNING: Take down all social networking sites! You have no idea how many times “misinterpreted” pictures and “just for fun” language comes back to bite people in custody battles.

>Click here for more comprehensive information about legal issues involving children.

Can I stop a divorce if I don't want it?

If one spouse wants a divorce, there is very little that the other spouse can do to stop it. The spouse that does not want the divorce can petition the court to order a reconciliation conference. This is basically one session of marriage counseling that both parties are required to attend. After attending that session, the spouse is relieved of further required efforts to reconcile and can continue with the divorce if they choose to.

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