5 New Family Law Forms from AOC to be used effective January 1, 2014

AOC is rolling out some new family court forms effective January 1, 2014.  Click here for announcement.

The Kentucky Court of Justice has listened to suggestions with respect to the complexity of the family law forms mandated by the Family Court Rules of Procedure and Practice. In 2013, a FCRPP Forms Review Committee comprised of judges, agency representatives and practitioners was assembled and charged with the responsibility of reviewing all FCRPP-mandated forms in an effort to streamline and simplify the forms, including the simplification of the disclosure forms. The following domestic relations forms will begin being piloted on Jan. 1, 2014, in collaboration with the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Kentucky Bar Association for review, consideration and use prior to the Supreme Court of Kentucky Rules Hearing in June 2014. As forms are subject to revision based on statutory changes and/or case law, users must ensure that they use the current version of any form being piloted. Notice of any revision will be posted on the KBA and KCOJ websites. Please send any comments or questions relative to the forms to FCRPPforms@kycourts.net by July 31, 2014.

Please note that completed forms can now be saved to computers with newer operating systems by using the Adobe Acrobat Reader Version 11. Download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free.

STDS OF REVIEW: Family Court’s determination of best interests of child

From DJD v. Cabinet of Health and Family Services,  COA, Published 7/8/2011

When reviewing a family court’s determination of the best interests of a child, we must apply the abuse of discretion standard. Young v. Holmes, 295 S.W.3d 144, 146 (Ky.App. 2009). Absent a showing that a decision was arbitrary, unreasonable, unfair, or unsupported by sound legal principles, a family court’s determination on the issue will not be an abuse of discretion and will be sustained. Miller v. Harris, 320 S.W.3d 138, 141 (Ky.App. 2010).

Supreme Court of Kentucky adopts statewide rules for family law cases

Links to Related Resources:
Family Court Rules of Procedure and Practice
Summary of Family Court Rules of Procedures and Practice

FRANKFORT, Ky. — For the first time, the Supreme Court of Kentucky has adopted uniform rules for family law cases statewide, Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. and Deputy Chief Justice Mary C. Noble announced at a news conference today at the Kentucky Capitol.

The Family Court Rules of Procedure and Practice apply to all family law cases, which are handled by Family Court judges in 71 Kentucky counties and by circuit and district judges in the 49 other counties without a Family Court. Family law cases include such matters as divorce, termination of parental rights, domestic violence, child support, juvenile status offenses, adoption, and dependency, neglect or abuse.

The rules became effective Jan. 1, 2011, and will have a significant impact on the practice of family law in Kentucky.

FAMILY LAW: Hunter v. Mena (COA 1/8/2010)

Hunter v. Mena
2009-CA-000494 01/08/2010 2010 WL 45919

Opinion by Judge Acree; Judges Keller and Lambert concurred. The Court affirmed in part and reversed in part and remanded a Domestic Violence Order. The Court first held that the family court erred in including a requirement in the DVO, entered pursuant to a petition by appellee, that appellant have no contact with his nephew. Appellee’s petition was not filed on behalf of the nephew and therefore, could not justify entry of an order protecting the nephew. The Court next held that the family court had subject matter jurisdiction to enter the DVO to protect appellee. Although appellee was physically residing in Indiana with her mother at the time the petition, the evidence indicated that she desired to remain a resident of Kentucky and not that she intended to forever abandon the state as her domicile. The Court finally held that the evidence did not contradict the family court’s determination that appellant committed acts of domestic violence against appellee. Although the evidence was conflicting, the family court was the proper arbiter to make the factual determination based upon substantial evidence.

FAMILY LAW (custody): Gertler v. Gertler (COA 1/15/2010)

Gertler v. Gertler
2008-CA-001367 01/15/2010 2010 WL 135101

Opinion by Judge Acree; Judge Lambert and Senior Judge Harris concurred. The Court affirmed a judgment of the circuit court classifying certain gifts to the parties in a dissolution action as marital property and awarding sole custody of the parties’ children to their mother. The Court first held that the trial court did not err in classifying the monetary gifts from appellant’s parents as marital property. Appellant’s and his father’s testimony did not alone satisfy appellant’s burden of establishing that the gifts were non-marital and the judge, as the trier of fact, could believe or not believe, in whole or in part, the testimony. The Court next held that the trial court did not err in finding that appellant would not be able to cooperate with his ex-wife in future decision-making regarding their children and therefore, awarding sole custody of the parties’ children to their mother was not arbitrary, unreasonable, or unfair.

FAMILY LAW (termination of parental rights): Commonwealth, Cabinet for Health and Family Services v. D.G.R. (COA 1/22/2010)

Commonwealth, Cabinet for Health and Family Services v. D.G.R.
2009-CA-000745 01/22/2010 2010 WL 199576

Opinion by Judge Lambert; Judge VanMeter concurred; Senior Judge Henry dissented by separate opinion. The Court reversed an order of the circuit court denying a petition to terminate appellees’ parental rights. The Court held that the trial court erred in finding that termination was not in the child’s best interest when all but one of the factors in KRS 625.090(3) weighed in favor of termination being in the child’s best interest. While there was some evidence presented in favor of the parents and their minimal efforts to improve the care of the child, the evidence did not constitute substantial evidence, much less clear and convincing evidence.

FAMILY LAW (custody, jurisdiction, out of state): Walsh-Stender v. Walsh (COA 12/30/2009)

Walsh-Stender v. Walsh
2009-CA-000117 12/30/2009 2009 WL 5125019

Opinion by Senior Judge Harris; Judges Lambert and VanMeter concurred. The Court vacated family court orders entered related to a motion to modify custody. The Court held that the family court lacked jurisdiction to consider the matter. Because appellant still lived in Tennessee, the state having original jurisdiction over the matter, and the child regularly visited her there, Tennessee retained exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over all custody matters. The family court erroneously relied upon KRS 403.822 to confer jurisdiction, as the statute only applied to initial custody determinations. Further, KRS 403.826 prohibited the Kentucky court from entertaining a custody motion without an order from Tennessee relinquishing its jurisdiction over the proceedings.

FAMILY LAW (grandparents, custody): Leach v. Harrison (COA 12/11/2009)

Leach v. Harrison
2009-CA-000622 12/11/2009 2009 WL 4723245

Opinion by Judge Wine; Judge Nickell and Senior Judge Harris concurred. The Court vacated and remanded an order of the circuit court granting permanent sole custody of appellant’s minor children to the children’s maternal grandparents. The Court held that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because the maternal grandparents lacked standing as non-parents who were not de facto custodians. Kentucky’s child custody statutes did not grant subject-matter jurisdiction to courts to determine the custody rights of a non-parent who had not been found to be a de facto custodian or to provide non-parents standing to bring such actions.

FAMILY LAW (Workers Compensation Settlement, marital property issue): Day v. Day (COA 12/11/2009)

Day v. Day
2008-CA-000133 12/11/2009 2009 WL 4722579

Opinion by Senior Judge Harris; Judges Lambert and VanMeter concurred. The Court affirmed an order of the trial court in a dissolution of marriage action determining that appellant’s entire workers’ compensation settlement was marital property and awarding appellee one-half of the settlement and setting appellant’s child support obligation. The Court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the entire workers’ compensation settlement was a marital asset and dividing it equally between the parties after it considered the factors required by KRS 403.190.

FAMILY LAW (Jurisdiction): Cabinet for Health and Family Services v. J.T.G. (COA 12/4/2009)

Cabinet for Health and Family Services v. J.T.G.
2009-CA-000211 12/04/2009 2009 WL 4406123

Opinion by Judge Lambert; Judge Harris concurred by separate opinion; Judge VanMeter dissented by separate opinion. The Court vacated and remanded an order of the circuit court finding the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in contempt for failing to pay child care assistance costs to the uncle of a child who was given permanent custody of the child. The Court held that the trial court abused its discretion in enforcing an order entered by the family court that previously transferred the case. The transferring court lost jurisdiction once the matter was transferred and therefore, the order requiring the Cabinet to pay child care assistance costs was void ab initio. The Court also held that the application of the law of the case doctrine was a abuse of discretion, as the doctrine did not extend to trial court rulings. The Court remanded with instructions for the court to reconsider the Cabinet’s CR 59.05 motion in light of the opinion, including but not limited to a consideration of KRS 610.010(12) and its applicability to the facts.