How to Get a Default Judgment for a Divorce in Kentucky

by Shannon Johnson

    Kentucky is a no-fault divorce state. Parties do not have to allege any particular fault in their divorce complaint beyond “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” If your spouse is served and does not answer, or if you aren’t able to locate your spouse for service, you can get divorced via default judgment. Getting a default judgment in Kentucky requires following a strict procedure. The judge’s order will depend on the method by which you obtained the default judgment. Each county will have its own set of rules, so make sure to check with your county clerk before you get started.

    Filing for Divorce and Serving Your Spouse

    Step 1

    File your divorce complaint with your county clerk of court. Make sure to complete any other forms your particular county requires.

    Step 2

    Serve your spouse at the last known address you have for her with the summons and the file-stamped divorce complaint. The summons will notify your spouse that she must file an answer within 20 days.

    Step 3

    Complete a warning order affidavit and pay for a warning order attorney if you don’t know where your spouse lives. The attorney will have 50 days to try to notify your spouse of the filed divorce action. If your spouse cannot be found within this time frame, the warning order attorney will file a report with the court detailing the efforts undertaken.

    Motion for Default and Final Hearing

    Step 1

    Fill out a motion for default judgment, including your case number. One of the most important sections is where you note how and when your spouse was served. Don’t sign the motion until you get ready to file it in with the clerk of court because it has to be notarized.

    Step 2

    File your motion for default with county clerk. After you file the motion, the clerk will assign a date and time for your hearing. You will have to pay for your copy of the hearing notice. Ask for a copy of the notice to be sent to your spouse’s last known address.

    Step 3

    Attend the final hearing. The court will not enter a default judgment unless the person who filed for the divorce is present. If your spouse was served via the sheriff’s department, the judge will have the freedom to grant everything you requested in your divorce petition, including child and spousal support, property division, custody and any other marital issues. If your spouse was served via a warning order attorney, the judge can grant only your divorce and award you custody. Under Kentucky law, the judge will not be able to decide any issues that deal with financial matters including alimony, property division and child support.

    Tips & Warnings

    • Be aware that your spouse could decide to attend the final hearing. The judge will consider any requests your spouse makes at that time.
    • Your spouse can file a motion to set aside a default judgment. In order to prevail, your spouse will have to prove special circumstances that justify his failure to respond.

    About the Author

    Shannon Johnson graduated from Mercer University School of Law in 2000. She practiced law for five years before beginning her writing career. She currently writes for several legal and non-legal online publications. Johnson has also taught legal research and writing, music business law and entertainment law.

    Photo Credits

    • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images