Legal Separation vs. Divorce in Kentucky: Key Differences

divorce separation

When issues arise in a marriage, couples sometimes consider going their separate ways. However, deciding between a legal separation and a divorce can be quite challenging, as both have significant implications. In the below post, we will review the differences between a legal separation and a divorce in Kentucky and what this decision can mean for you. 

The Major Differences Between Divorce and Legal Separation in Kentucky

The divorce process typically begins when one spouse files a divorce application. After the petition is submitted, either the court or the couple will create a divorce agreement that addresses property division, support issues, and custody. The main goal of divorce is to restore both spouses to the same position they were in before they were married, including dissolving the marriage and allowing each spouse to remarry if they choose to do so.

On the other hand, a legal separation serves as a cooling-off period for couples to assess whether they want to proceed with a divorce. Once the court grants the legal separation, the couple has the flexibility to decide on the duration of the separation. However, after a year, the couple is required to make a decision on whether to continue the marriage or move forward with a divorce.

In legal separation proceedings, the judge will make decisions about the same issues as in a divorce. However, at the end of the process, the couple will still be legally married. This means that while a legally separated couple can live separate lives, neither spouse can remarry unless the court converts the separation to a formal divorce. In contrast, with divorce being permanent, the only way for a couple to be legally married to each other again is to apply for a marriage license and meet the state’s requirements.

Pursuing a Legal Separation 

In Kentucky, pursuing legal separation requires at least one party to file a petition for separation with the court. The party must also demonstrate that they or their partner was a Kentucky resident for at least 180 days before applying for the separation and has lived apart and separated from the spouse for at least 60 days.

In addition, to pursue legal separation, a spouse must provide the court with grounds or a legal reason for the request. However, as Kentucky is a no-fault divorce state, the spouse will only need to demonstrate that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that efforts to reconcile have been unsuccessful.

It is also important to point out that a couple can only file for legal separation if both spouses agree to the process. If one spouse desires a divorce, the court will not proceed with legal separation.

Choosing Legal Separation Over a Divorce

There is no specific formula or test to determine whether divorce or legal separation is the right next step. However, some of the common reasons a couple may choose to pursue a legal separation over a divorce include the following:

  • There is a chance that the couple may reconcile 
  • The spouses may want to preserve the marriage
  • A spouse needs the other spouse’s employer-sponsored health care, which would be terminated with a divorce

However, to better understand these options and to determine which one may be a better fit for your family, consider contacting an experienced Kentucky family law attorney to review the differences between a divorce and legal separation in more detail.

Learn More About the Differences Between Legal Separation and Divorce, Contact Hoffman Walker & Knauf Today 

If you have been considering legal separation or divorce in Kentucky but want to know more about the differences between these processes, contact Hoffman Walker & Knauf today to learn more about your legal options and how our legal team can help you.