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What are Kentucky Divorce Records?

Kentucky divorce records are documents issued by state authorities and serve as proof of a couple’s divorce. Divorce records contain details about the divorce including the names of the divorced parties, where and when the divorce took place, settlement terms between the couple, motions, pleadings, and other details related to the proceedings. According to the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky ranked 4th for divorce rates in 2018, with 10.5 divorces per 1,000 women at least 15 years old.

Because Kentucky allows no-fault divorces, spouses that desire a divorce only need to prove that there are “irreconcilable differences”. The state does not require the petitioning spouse to state any faults from their partners. However, the couple must demonstrate that both parties have been living apart for at least 60 days. Couples living under one roof can satisfy this rule if there has been no sexual activity for 60 days.

There are two ways to end a marriage in Kentucky:

A dissolution of marriage is also known as a divorce, and seeks to completely sever ties between a married couple. Once granted, both parties are no longer responsible for each other, except if otherwise stated in the terms of settlements approved by a judge. Parties that have finalized a divorce may go ahead and remarry. 

When an annulment is granted, it is assumed that the marriage never took place. An annulment is different from a dissolution of marriage because the later shows that a marriage did take place, but has ended. The following are grounds for an annulment in Kentucky:

  • One party was already married to someone else (bigamy)
  • One party was forced into the marriage
  • The marriage was solemnized for a fraudulent reason
  • One spouse was incapable of sexual relations
  • Both parties are more closes related than second cousins
  • One or both parties were below the legal age at solemnization
  • One or both parties were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or mentally incapable.

A divorce is only finalized when a court enters a divorce decree, which is then filed with the clerk of court. However, Kentucky allows both parties to jointly apply to annul the divorce decree at any time. The annulment nullifies the divorce decree and any separation agreement, and restores the couple’s marital status.

Divorces may be contested or uncontested by the divorcing parties. An uncontested divorce in Kentucky may take between 60 to 90 days before the final judgment. A contested divorce could take much longer, depending on the case specifics.

Are Divorce Records Public in Kentucky?

In accordance with the Kentucky Open Records Act, the general public has the right of access to public records in the state. After a judge passes judgment and a divorce decree is issued, some divorce records become accessible at the state level.

However, the general public may be unable to access divorce records sealed by the court. Access to sealed records is only possible if the court grants permission.

What are the types of Divorce Records available in Kentucky?

The divorce records available in Kentucky include divorce decrees and divorce certificates.

A divorce decree is only issued when the judge finalizes the divorce case. This divorce record contains information about the divorcing parties and all the settlement terms in the divorce case. These terms may include alimony payments, child custody and visitation, distribution of assets and liabilities, child support, and other specific terms as ordered by a judge.

One party may use the divorce decree to enforce compliance if the other party defaults on the settlement terms. A divorce decree is accessible from the clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where the divorce was finalized.

A divorce certificate is a document issued by the state for record-keeping purposes and as proof of a divorce. It is not a court document and does not contain specifics of the divorce settlement terms. A divorce certificate carries the names of the divorced parties, and includes where and when the divorce was finalized. Divorce certificates are available from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

How Do I Get Divorce Records in Kentucky?

Obtaining divorce records in Kentucky depends on the type of record requested. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (KCHFS) keeps divorce certificates and allows members of the public to request these divorce records, through its Office of Vital Statistics. Divorce certificates are available for divorces that took place from June 1958 to the present, and are available by mail, phone, and in person.

To obtain a copy of a divorce certificate by mail, download and complete an Application For A Certified Copy Of Marriage/Divorce Certificate. Requesters would need the full names of the divorced parties, the month, day, and year of the divorce, and the county where the divorce was granted. Additional information required includes the name and address where the certificate will be mailed to, the requester’s phone number, and the number of copies desired. Each copy costs $6. 

Enclose the completed application with a check or money order payable to Kentucky State Treasurer. Send the request to:

Office of Vital Statistics

275 East Main Street


Frankfort, KT 40621

Allow up to 30 working days for all mail requests.

To obtain a copy of a divorce certificate in person, visit the Office of Vital Statistics at the above address, on a weekday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. To request by phone, call toll free (800) 241–8322. Phone requests require credit cards from Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express.

The Office of Vital Statistics does not issue non-certified copies of divorce certificates.

All divorce decrees, as well as divorce certificates before June 1958, are only available with the county clerk in the county where the divorce was finalized. To find contact details of each county clerk, use the information provided by the Kentucky County Clerk’s Association (KCCA).

While divorce and marriage records may be searched through government sources and organizations, the availability of these documents cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these entities are not government-sponsored therefore, record availability may vary further. Also, note that marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information the records contain, and are often sealed. Hence, bear in mind that these factors determine the availability of any type of marriage or divorce record.

Who Can Obtain Divorce Records in Kentucky?

All members of the public can obtain Kentucky divorce certificates and divorce decrees, without any requirements. Requesters only need to provide information about the records desired.

Are Kentucky Divorce Records Available Online?

There is no central online service where members of the public may view Kentucky divorce records. These records are only available from the county clerk where the divorce took place or from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts however provides access to statewide court records, through its online Case Search platform. Since a divorce record may be a court record, some information about the case may be available to the general public through the platform. Requesters may select Civil from the Case Category drop-down menu, to access limited information. Note that the case details provided on these platforms may be inadequate and unusable for official purposes.

How Do I Seal My Divorce Records in Kentucky?

Only a court can seal divorce records. Since divorce records are open to the public by default, the process of sealing them begins when one party applies to the court. When the court receives the application, it must then weigh the person’s need for sealing the records, against the right of the general public to access the record.

A request to seal a divorce record must satisfy the following requirements:

  • The reason tendered by the requesting party is strong enough to warrant the sealing
  • Alternative restrictive measures to sealing the records will be inadequate 
  • The party’s right or interest will be sufficiently protected by sealing the record

The judge will hold a hearing to determine whether or not the circumstances are sufficient enough to order the sealing of the records. Depending on the reasons provided by the requesting party, the record may either be partly or entirely sealed.

After a record has been sealed, a displeased party may contest the ruling by requesting another hearing. If the judge does not grant the request for another hearing, the displeased party may proceed by bringing action in an appeals court, either by a mandamus or by a writ of prohibition. 

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