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Hoge Partners, PLLC

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Uncontested Divorces in Kentucky

We frequently receive telephone calls from potential clients asking, "What do you charge for an uncontested divorce?"

Unfortunately, this question is generally impossible to answer right off the bat.  There are hundreds of variables which influence the cost of a divorce.

Sometimes, we get a call from a person who say he (or she) wants an uncontested divorce because "I've decided what I'm going to give her (or him)."  Equally often, the other party has a somewhat different idea of what he or she is entitled to take from the marriage.  What does this create? Conflict.

On the other hand, we get calls from people who say, "We've worked this all out.  We just want a divorce."  But, when we start asking questions about the division of debts, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders for the division of pensions and retirement funds, the refinancing of the mortgage on the house, etc., we find that the parties usually have not thought this through quite as thoroughly as an experienced Family Law attorney and that maybe there are major issues that have not been fully agreed upon.

"We have this all worked out.  Can you represent both of us?"  The short answer is "No!"

No one should believe that any attorney can represent both parties in a divorce action and the Kentucky Bar Association agrees with this position.

One attorney can, however, represent one of the parties while the other party can either proceed without counsel or, perhaps, engage an attorney only for the purpose of reviewing a settlement agreement prior to execution.  This could save the parties a good deal of money in a low-conflict divorce case.

Please proceed with caution if an attorney promises to represent both of you in a divorce action.

You may think you can be a great lawyer for yourself but, to borrow a phrase from Abraham Lincoln, you'll have "a fool for a client".  You cannot be dispassionate about your case any more than you can remain unbiased while performing surgery on yourself.


Divorce is expensive . . . expensive in a lot of ways. Emotional expense is very important and must be managed or it can dramatically affect the quality of your life. But the financial costs of divorce can be astronomical if you fail to obtain a fair settlement.

Before you decide to handle your divorce yourself or if you think your divorce is going to be "uncontested", please read the information below so you can fully consider whether this is something you are really competent to handle without experienced legal advice.

We know that a lot of people try to handle one of the most complicated financial and legal transactions of their lives without legal counsel. If their marriage has no financial matters of consequence -- great! But the place where most people fail to grasp the process is they simply do not know why they may need a lawyer.

Here's our answer to "What do lawyers do in a divorce?"

Identification of Property:

People often do not really know their own share of the marital estate and, even more often, have very little understanding of their spouses' property. Further, people often times fail to appreciate or know how to truly identify and/or label property in the numerous legal entities or fashions available. Is the property a sole proprietorship, corporation, LLC, S-Corp, trust, life insurance, cash value, frequent flyer miles, bonuses, stock options, bond, stocks, etc.

Classification of Property:

Any reasonably diligent attorney will attempt to identify all property which should be part of the marital estate or non-marital property which should be assigned to his/her client. The threshold questions are:

  • Is the asset real or personal property?
  • After clearly identifying the property, how should it be classified?
  • If it is mixed, how should the proportions be handled?

Did you know the right to frequent flyer miles or to basketball season tickets or to country club memberships might be assignable or non-assignable assets? Do you understand how this fits in Kentucky's "functional approach"? Does Kentucky's functional approach primarily affect classification or value?

We've heard reports of an influx of Russian brides who come to America, get a lot of medical and/or dental work and then want a divorce. Many of their husbands then want their "investments" back. Another scenario spurring a good deal of discussion is whether breast implants and other cosmetic improvements (or at least the cost of surgery) are somehow divisible property in divorce.

We do not use these examples to be cute but, rather, to show how all major expenditures of marital funds (over and above normal living expenses) should result in marital property, a dissipation claim or at least a very good explanation.

There are thousands of other possible assets that must be considered, not the least of which include:

  • Agriculture subsidies and soil conservation payments
  • Crop production contracts
  • Tobacco bases and quotas
  • Pets and livestock, including stud fees
  • Blanket Powers of Attorney affecting agriculture and property rights
  • Burial plots
  • Ownership of computer software
  • Retirement community contracts
  • Sick leave or vacation pay
  • Time-shares in vacation condos
  • Prepaid funeral arrangements
  • Mineral rights
  • Collectibles and antiques
  • Patents, copyrights and intellectual property
  • Lottery or gambling winnings
  • Anticipated tax refunds
  • Stock options
  • Pending refunds
  • Delayed bonuses or raises
  • Loss carry forwards

We are not saying you need to pursue every conceivable asset; we are saying every possibility needs to be considered.

Do you really understand transmutation? [See Bischoff v. Bischoff, 987 S.W.2d 798 (Ky.App. 1998), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 1205 Ct. 175, 145 L.Ed.2d 148. (1999).]

Valuation of Property:

If the parties cannot agree, property valuations are usually performed by appraisers.  This can include real property appraisers, personal property appraisers, forensic accountants, business interest appraisers, appraisers of rare or antique items and collectibles and other experts either agreed upon between the parties or appointed by the court to perform these valuations.

Division/Assignment/Awarding of Property:

This is usually accomplished through one of the following techniques:

  • Negotiation
  • Mediation
  • Collaboration
  • Litigation and/or Trial
  • Motion Practice
  • Appellate Practice
As you can see, a divorce can become very, very complicated very, very quickly.  There really is a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Because so many important factors are easy to overlook, an experienced Family Law attorney is going to invest a fair amount of time making sure his or her client is not giving up an important claim to real or personal property, future benefits such as retirement funds, under-estimating the value of marital assets, surrendering what could be an important interest in a closely-held business, etc.

Do not rush into an "uncontested divorce".  If you sign off on the settlement, you may have no right to try to revisit the agreement in the future, when clearer heads prevail or your circumstances change.

Talk to one of the attorneys at Hoge Partners, PLLC if you have questions about whether an "uncontested divorce" is in your best interest.