Kentucky Adopts Uniform Rules For Family Law
Kentucky has adopted uniform rules for family law cases statewide for the first time and there are rules that are beneficial but also some that are harmful to father’s rights.
The theory behind the Family Rules was to take the best practices from the state along with relevant statutes, civil rules and controlling case law and codify that into the Family Rules, thus streamlining divorces and have everyone operating under one practice. Previously, judges created local family law rules for their jurisdiction meaning each county did something different.
Jason Bowman, a divorce attorney for men with Cordell & Cordell, said the two changes that are most beneficial to men and fathers are the requirement for parties to provide financial documentation when filing for temporary maintenance and/or child support, and the requirement to file a notice of relocation if the custodial parent is moving.
Too often Bowman and other father’s rights attorney would see cases where courts would set temporary child support or maintenance based upon an affidavit on the belief of the other party’s income.
“The statute for temporary child support and maintenance requires the court to enter an order within 14 days, so some courts would assume the facts in the affidavit as true and set child support based upon incorrect numbers,” Bowman said. “For example, I had a case were Dad’s tax returns showed income of approximately $120,000 a year. The wife alleged $320,000 a year in income and the court initially set child support based off the $320,000 figure. I got it corrected, but only after a hearing set two months after the order was issued.”
The new family law rules require that a party actually provide supporting financial documentation and worksheets.
Another change that will be more beneficial to men, is the requirement that if a party wants to move out of state or more than 100 miles from the present residence that they provide 60 days notice to the other party. This will allow men to file motions to fight movement before it happens rather than after it happens, since usually the moving party is the primary custodial parent, which is almost always the mother.
“There was no notice requirement before and I would see plenty of Dads in a panic because Mom just moved without notice or let them know she was moving with the children next week,” Bowman said. “I believe that this will provide sufficient notice to those Dads.”
One major rule change that will help keep the costs of divorce lower is the requirement of a Verified Case Disclosure in all cases in all counties. Some counties would not require this, resulting in higher costs because it would require additional discovery.
However, there are rule changes seen as harmful toward men’s and father’s rights. One new rule is a “Model Time Sharing/Visitation Guideline” that includes visitation of a minimum of every other weekend and one mid-week overnight, which most fathers would agree is far too little time for the non-custodial parent.
“Even though they are suppose to be guidelines, I worry that court’s will rely on them as an easy way out and not award proper time-sharing or visitation based on the facts of the case,” Bowman said.
The changes were adopted by the Supreme Court of Kentucky and are meant to provide a uniform set of rules for judges, attorneys and parties to follow statewide to help ensure safety, permanency and well being for children and families, according to a news release from the Supreme Court.
The rules became effective Jan. 1, 2011.