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Hoge Partners, PLLC
First Trust Centre
Suite 400 South

200 South Fifth Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40202
Fax:  (502) 583-1223
Phone:  (502) 583-2005

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Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

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Frequently Asked Questions about Family Law in Kentucky

How much will my divorce cost me?

We know this is important to you. Unfortunately, the question is a lot like "How much does a car or a house cost?" Answer: "It depends on a lot of things." We concentrate on value. How much needs to be spent to get you an acceptable result?

The answer will depend a lot on what is your acceptable result and, very importantly, what is the other party's acceptable result.

Is it possible to keep my divorce costs "on budget"?

We can definitely establish a budget for your case once we jointly agree what needs to be done to successfully process your case. There are definite break points for a budget, such as "mediation" or "through trial". The variable of the other party's demands does not need to push a client around too much, so long as those demands are not totally unreasonable.

How long will it take to get a divorce?

Our record is a couple of hours but, if you have children, you must wait at least 60 days after the Response is filed. Usually, we can put through a divorce within a week or so after a signed agreement is filed with the court. If there are minor children involved, the parties and the children all have to complete Families in Transition or divorce education classes, which can sometimes delay the entry of a Decree of Dissolution.

How much child support will I have to pay? How much child support will I get?

Since 1988, all states are required to use a child support formula. In Kentucky, we combine the parties' gross incomes and then apply that figure to a chart created by the Legislature. The resulting amount is then assigned according to the parties' respective pro rata incomes.

Factored into these calculations are the parties' respective out-of-pocket costs for insuring a child or children as well as any work-related childcare expense. Sometime, these figures can change one's child support obligation dramatically. Responsibility for these expenses is also applied on a pro rata basis.

See http://chfs.ky.gov/dis/cse.htm for more information, etc. See also, the Kentucky Child Support Guidelines as set out in KRS 403.212 [http://www.lrc.state.ky.us/krs/403-00/212.PDF].

How much alimony (or "maintenance") will I have to pay? How much alimony will I receive?

We used to call maintenance "alimony". The subject is addressed by statute at KRS 403.200 [http://www.lrc.state.ky.us/krs/403-00/200.PDF].

Bill Hoge has concentrated in the area of maintenance for over 20 years. The statute provides the factors to be considered. The reasonable needs of the person receiving maintenance and the financial ability of the person paying maintenance are the deciding factors once it is determined the length of the marriage and the disparity of the parties' respective financial resources merit maintenance.

How often will I get to see my kids?

Family courts try to maximize both parents' access, given their realistic employment schedules and their respective histories with the children. This assumes there are no major obstacles for the child's safety. There are developmental guidelines for how much time very young children should be away from the most "bonded" parent.

Equal parenting time is the exception rather than the rule. Even so, fathers typically have far more "parenting time" today than they had five or ten years ago.

My divorce is uncontested. Why do I need a lawyer?

As a general rule, you will probably want a lawyer if there are parenting issues, maintenance or child support disputes, pensions, tax questions, value disputes or dissipation claims. Domestic violence issues often require attorneys to address the imbalance of negotiating power. The Jefferson Family Court does have a pro se (unrepresented parties) package for sale at a very reasonable cost if it really is uncontested and with no important issues.

Financially, it may be more important to not be your own lawyer than it is for your health to not be your own doctor. Only you can decide but a few hours with a lawyer may avert a legal disaster later.

Will I have to go to Court to get my divorce?

Often times, cases are settled at mediation and, though there is paperwork, you will not typically need to appear in court to get your divorce decree entered.

When can I start dating again?

It is generally a bad idea to start dating before your divorce in final. Our experience shows the "green-eyed monster" of jealousy shows up, surprisingly even if the other party has been unfaithful first. Children definitely should not be introduced to a significant other prior to completion of the divorce. It is very confusing for children, especially as they generally would give anything to see Mom and Dad reunited. We have seen the introduction of new significant others cause a great deal of additional financial and emotional expense to the parties and the children.

My ex isn't paying child support on time? Do I have to let him/her see the children?

There is a specific statute which states that child support payments and access to the children are absolutely not related. It is generally agreed that one-half of child support is not paid or is paid late but be sure the Judges do not like failure to pay child support as ordered. Ultimately, they will order jail to compel payment.

I lost my job or got cut back on my hours. I can't pay my child support. What should I do?

In these hard times, if you are having trouble with your employment, if it is a "substantial and continuing change in circumstances", you should file a motion with the court for relief, which may be suspension of payments or reduction or both.

It is much better to not fail to make your child support payments, even if you have an excuse as the court can be understanding but they will not be as forgiving if you do nothing.

Can I tell the kids why we're getting a divorce?

Judges hate "adult talk" being had with children.  Even if you feel the child is entitled to the "truth", do not do it! Say that those type issues are for grownups and the Judge will decide if Mommy and Daddy cannot agree. Remember, children want to be left out of any decision making about adult issues and/or parenting conflicts and that's what the Judges want as well. Do not fall into the trap of "just telling the kids the truth" unless you want to make the Judge unhappy.

What are the different process used to resolve our differences in the divorce?

Process is very important. You may have decided you want a divorce in much the same way you decide you're going to Chicago. Though the decision to go has been made, you still need to decide how you are going to get there. Are you taking a plan, a car, a bus, hitchhiking, etc.?

The option at one end of the continuum is for the two of you to work out the details informally. This is usually dangerous and often results in losing options that were needed for negotiation purposes to get to an overall agreement.

At the opposite end of the continuum is all-out "salt the earth and take no prisoners" litigation warfare. This is usually a very bad idea and often only the lawyers win. Some people need a trial to resolve their differences but this option is almost always a last resort.

Between these two polar opposite methods we find several alternatives, which are discussed in greater detail in the Resolution Options section of our website.

Through litigation and negotiation, the two parties and their lawyers are usually able to work out a settlement. But litigation comes at a price.

Which brings us to a unique option called "collaborative law" which Bill Hoge helped found in Louisville as an alternative to divorce litigation. Through collaborative efforts, the parties and their counsel agree not to proceed through motion practice, instead focusing their efforts to reach an agreement, which may or may not include the services of financial advisors, divorce coaches, mental health professionals, etc.

The next problem-solving technique we see in Family Law is known as "mediation", which is the most successful process available to us today. In mediation, a third-party neutral helps the parties and their lawyers find common ground and helps them reach an agreement. About 85% of all dissolution cases are resolved through mediation.

Arbitration is another technique but is used very little in Kentucky at this time. In arbitration, an independent attorney is chosen as a fact finder and decision maker in resolving a contested divorce. Arbitration may be a bit more expedient that waiting for a far-off trial date but the parties give up much of their input into the final resolution.

In 2006 and again in 2012, Mr. Hoge co-authored chapters on both Collaborative Law and Arbitration in the book Kentucky Domestic Relations Practice, published by the University of Kentucky's Office of Continuing Legal Education [http://www.ukcle.com].