Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Family Court?
A: Family Court is a division of Jefferson County’s Circuit Court. Family Court is involved in the most intimate and complex cases involving family issues.
Q: What type of cases are handled in Family Court?
A: Family Court is responsible for presiding over the following cases:
-Child custody, Child Support, and visitation
-Dependency, Neglect, and Abuse
-Dissolution of Marriage
-Runaways, Truancy, and Beyond Control
-Termination of Parental Rights
Q: How many Family Courts are in Jefferson County?
A: There are ten Family Court divisions and ten Family Court Judges in Jefferson County?
Q: How do I know which division my case will be heard in?
A: Each Family Court division is assigned a portion of the alphabet. When the clerk receives a case it is assigned by the female party’s last name. If the name is hyphenated the clerk uses the second last name to determine which division the case is assigned to. If a case involves a same-sex couple the case is assigned based on the Petitioner’s last name.
Q: If I have more than one Family Court case at a time will the same judge hear both/all of my cases?
A: Yes. Jefferson County uses a “One Family, One Judge, One Court,” approach. This allows one judge to hear all family law cases involving a particular family.
Q: If I have a trial in Family Court will a jury be present?
A: No. Family Court holds bench trials instead of jury trials. A bench trial is where all testimony and evidence are presented to the judge and the judge makes the final decision(s).
Q: What if I cannot afford an attorney?
A: If you cannot afford an attorney to represent you in Family Court, you can represent yourself. When a person represents themselves they are referred to as a pro se litigant. Depending on the family law issue and if you qualify for their services, you can also seek representation through The Legal Aid Society of Louisville.
Q: Am I entitled to have an attorney appointed to represent me in Family Court?
A: No. Unlike in criminal cases where an attorney can be appointed to represent you as a constitutional right, Family Court handles civil law cases and there is no constitutional right to representation. In limited circumstances, where a litigant’s life and liberty are in question, an attorney can be appointed.
Q: Can I get a divorce if my spouse will not agree?
A: Yes. Your spouse does not have to agree to any terms presented in order for a court to grant a divorce. Your spouse must be legally served with your divorce petition and given the opportunity to respond to your divorce petition before your case will move forward. Once your spouse has been served and had an opportunity to respond your case will move forward to completion.
Q: What is joint v. sole custody?
A: Joint custody is a form of custody where both parents make joint-decisions regarding major –life decisions for their child(ren). Parents must work together to co-parent, make decisions that are in their child(ren)’s best interest, and keep each other abreast of issues relating to their child(ren). Sole custody is a form of custody where one parent has been granted the ability to make all decisions regarding their child(ren) unilaterally.
Q: Do mothers usually get sole custody?
A: No. In Kentucky, it is presumed by the judge that joint custody is in the best interest of the child(ren) involved in the case before them. If evidence can be presented to rebut the presumption of joint custody a judge may grant sole custody to the parent opposed to joint custody.
Q: My child(ren)’s other parent will not allow me to see my child(ren), what can I do?
A: If you are a parent who is being refused parenting time with their child(ren) you can file the appropriate case in Family Court and request a parenting schedule. If you already have a case in Family Court you can file a motion asking the judge to order a parenting schedule.
Q: What is a parenting schedule?
A: A parenting schedule is a specified schedule for each parent to spend time with their child(ren). Kentucky laws states that parents shall have equal parenting time with their child(ren) unless it can be shown that one parent’s parenting time should be limited or restricted. Parenting schedules can differ from family-to-family depending on the family’s needs and each parent’s availability.
Q: I’m behind on my child support, do I still get to see my child(ren)?
A: Yes. The ability to see your child is not dependent on your ability to pay or not pay your child support obligation.
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