What Are the Unique Circumstances That Divorcing Parents Face in Custody Matters If They Reside in Different States?
The main issue for families spread across state lines face is when those states have different custodial rules or parenting laws, starting a sort of legal tug-of-war. For example, Kentucky and Indiana have different parenting time guidelines, so the question becomes: if Mom is in Kentucky and Dad is in Indiana, what custody rules apply? Many times, Dad is looking at his state’s rules, and Mom is looking at her state’s rules, so they need clarity about what applies. Generally speaking, the answer will be based on where the child spends more of their time. If the child is living primarily with the father, for example, then there may be deference given to the rules of the state where the father lives, which would probably be considered the child’s home state. By helping clients discern the home state of the child, we usually have a good starting point for parents to figure out which rules may apply.
Child support works in a similar way. Most states have their own child support calculator that looks at the parents’ different income levels and other factors. Though the parents may try to present their own state’s calculator, it usually will come down to the state where the child has spent more time in the immediate past. In our analysis, we look specifically at the child’s whereabouts in the last six months. Where has the child gone to school? Where is the child’s doctor located? The answers to those questions help us figure out which custody rules and child support calculations apply.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in the Specific States That You Practice in?
Both Kentucky and Indiana are no-fault divorce states. One spouse simply needs to allege that there’s been an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage and that there is no chance of them reconciling. Whereas other states might still require grounds like adultery, etc., Indiana and Kentucky consider one spouse saying the marriage is over enough to file for divorce and proceed with the case. In Kentucky, the court can order what’s called a reconciliation conference, which is an informal conference to ask some basic questions to ensure that counseling wouldn’t help the marriage and that basic solutions have been explored, particularly in cases that involve kids.
Both Indiana and Kentucky make it impossible to get divorced in under 60 days if there are children involved. This time frame allows for a cooling-off period, for lack of a better term. The states intend for these stop-gaps to make people think about the divorce process, as it is such an important decision. Despite this pause, people usually don’t reconcile during the process. Parents will also be required to take a parenting course, which is intended to help them be good co-parents if the divorce goes forward.
Is There a Required Period of Legal Separation in Kentucky or Indiana Before a Couple Can File for Divorce?
There is no required period of separation before the filing can occur. The couple can initiate the divorce at any time by saying that the marriage is broken. The parties do have to be physically separated for 60 days, however, before a Kentucky judge will sign off on a divorce decree (at the end of the divorce), which finalizes the split. People sometimes get confused and believe they have to live under a different roof from their spouse for 60 days before they can file, but that is not the case. If a couple has children, they have to wait 60 days anyway, so the required separation before the divorce is finalized is usually a non-issue.
Another common misconception in Kentucky is that physical separation means the parties have to live in separate spaces (i.e., the husband gets an apartment and the wife stays at the marital home). In actuality, people can be considered physically separated while still living under the same roof because Kentucky defines being physically separated as not sleeping together in the same bed. A common situation we see is a couple who’s been married for 20 years but have been sleeping in different bedrooms for the last five years. They have been physically separated for those five years and are, therefore, eligible to be divorced at any time (as long as they don’t have children).
In Indiana, the court doesn’t even care whether you are living together before the final divorce decree. Indiana just requires a set 60 days from the time you file until a judge can finalize things. That means Indiana, like Kentucky, does not require any kind of physical or legal separation before you can decide to file. Legal separation is actually a completely different tool that people can use instead of divorce. In both Kentucky and Indiana, there’s no requirement that the parties be separated before filing for legal separation.
For more information on Divorcing Couples Residing in Different States, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (812) 302-0539 today.
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