Are Kentucky Courts Closed?

No. Kentucky courts are open. The clerks of all courts throughout the state are accepting filings via eFiling system or by mail. The judges are in the office, secretaries schedule hearings and the clerk’s are accepting filings. The physical courthouse buildings have very limited access during the Covid-19 pandemic and current Governor’s orders, but many of the hearings are still taking place.

That said, courts are considered as an essential operation. Criminal cases involving persons incarcerated have rights to hearings and bond. As such, those cases are moving forward, generally via video from the detention center. Some other cases are being held via Zoom or Skype hearings for status, plea or sentencing.

Some Family law cases are being heard and the type of hearing varies by county and by judge. All cases of domestic violence are proceeding to protect the victims as well as rights of the accused. While investigations have dropped, cases of abuse and neglect are also moving forward. Most of these hearings are being held telephonically or via Zoom/Skype.

If you have questions, contact your attorney. Hiring an attorney who regularly practices in your county is essential to getting the most up to date information about your particular court and upcoming hearings.

If you do not have an attorney and need representation in Northern Kentucky counties of Boone, Campbell and Kenton, contact Michael Bouldin at 859-581-6453 or email mike@bouldinlawfirm.com.

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Filing for Protective Orders & Domestic Violence

With increase of stay at home Orders and alcohol abuse, there has been an increase in Domestic Violence. The Kentucky Courts remain open for both filing and hearings related to domestic violence allegations. The Courts can issue immediate temporary Orders to protect victims, granting protective orders and often restrictions on contact, exclusive use of the home and custody of children.

Often an EPO or DVO is the initial step to filing for custody or divorce. You can still file for divorce, dissolution, custody and protective orders during the Covid pandemic.

If you have been a victim of domestic violence, you should immediately report to the police, sheriff or other authorities. The police will assist in online filing of and request for EPO, emergency protective order. You will still have a hearing, often within 10 days of the filing. The hearing may take place at the courthouse, or via teleconference, Zoom or Skype. The family courts are using various technologies to continue processing complaints and holding hearings so that the rights of both the victims and accused can be held.

Of course, there are many challenges to using technology in place of traditional hearings, but the basic tenets of the hearings remain the same. The court can only issue an EPO for up to 14 days without giving the accused the right to be heard. As such, the band marches on and hearings are being held.

If you have been a victim, FILE and protect yourself. If you have been accused, you have rights to both a hearing, but should be advised that your testimony in a DV hearing may be used for further action regarding potential criminal charges and may affect custody rights.

If you have a pending hearing, it is strongly advisable to have an attorney. For consultation and representation in Northern Kentucky counties, contact Bouldin Law Firm link, email at mike@bouldinlawfirm.com or call 859-581-6453 (581-MIKE).

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Speeding 100mph? Get an Attorney!

if you have been charged with speeding more than 100mph or 25 over the speed limit, you may lose your license. You should always hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you.

It is highly likely that if speed is more than 25 over limit that in addition to speeding you were also charged with reckless driving, or possibly felony wanton endangerment.

These charges can lead to loss of license, substantial fees and costs, high insurance premiums and possible incarceration.

In Northern Kentucky contact Michael Bouldin by calling 859-581-6453 or email mike@bouldinlawfirm.com. contact here

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What is a De Facto Custodian?

A de facto custodian is latin term for someone who takes the place of a parent. In Kentucky law, if a person qualifies under the statute as a de facto custodian, they can then petition the courts for custody and begin on the same footing as a parent.

Generally, a parent has preferential custody rights to any child over anyone else. To that end, the parent must be proven to be unfit in order for another person to claim custody in Kentucky. If both parents are unfit, whether by dependency, neglect or abuse, then the court can appoint either the state or another individual to have temporary custody. If the state has custody, then the child can be placed with a relative, in foster care, or at a specialized institution.

In order to qualify as a de facto custodian, there are certain statutory criteria pursuant to KRS 403.270.

There are a few factors that qualify someone as a de facto custodian, such as:

  • They have served as the primary caregiver for a significant period. This is defined as:
    • Six months for children under 3
    • One year for children older than 3
  • They are the sole provider of financial support;
  • They provide the child with shelter and security; and
  • They have an established bond and relationship with the child

A de facto custodian is usually a family member, such as a grandparent, but they do not necessarily need to be a family relation. Time is critical in timely filing a motion to protect rights under this statute. Do not delay if you want to pursue rights!

Once filed and proven as a de facto custodian, that person has the same rights as a parent in pursuit of custody of a minor child. The court then turns to the best interest standard to determine where to place a child, custody and visitation.

If you qualify or want to seek rights as a de facto custodian, regardless of your biological relationship, you will need to hire an experienced attorney who is familiar with your county and the judges. For consultation and representation in Northern Kentucky, call Michael Bouldin at 859-581-6453 or email mike@bouldinlawfirm.com

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What is Cost of Uncontested Divorce?

There are many terms used that identify a divorce that is uncontested; those include agreed divorce, dissolution, or uncontested divorce/dissolution. Collaborative cases may ultimately be uncontested but generally involve more discussion and negotiation of issues before the uncontested paperwork may be filed.

Divorce Introduction

If you and your spouse agree on the terms of the dissolution, you can file together with an Agreement and do a complete dissolution without the necessary to appear in court.

Agreement means that you agree to all terms: division of assets, division of debts, non-marital assets, and spousal support, if any. Assets should include discussion regarding real estate, personal property, investment and bank accounts, retirement and pensions and any other property. If there are children involved, it should include custody, child support, division of expenses, parenting time, holidays, vacations, health insurance and division of uncovered medical expenses, extracurricular activities and decision making authority.

If everything can be agreed, many attorneys (including me) will provide a fixed fee pricing for preparation of all paperwork. This varies, depending on whether there are children or not as well as if there are other documents required for division of retirement, transfer of real estate in addition to the filing fees which vary by county.

For consultation or fee quote, contact Bouldin Law Firm at mike@bouldinlawfirm.com or fill out the attached contact link. You may also call our office at 859-581-6453. We look forward to helping you move quickly through this difficult time.

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Divorce and Girlfriends

Having practiced divorce and family law for over 25 years, I am often asked about girlfriends, boyfriends and significant others.

What if my wife finds out about my girlfriend? Being a no-fault divorce state, the reasons for the divorce/dissolution are irrelevant to divorce actions in Kentucky. Whether you have a boyfriend, are abusive, do not contribute or abuse alcohol are all irrelevant to divorce, division of assets or support. Some of these factors may have affect custodial rights, if they also affect the children or your ability to make sound decisions. As such, it is advisable to not share your extra-marital relationships, but the knowing is of little consequence to overall divorce.

When can I start dating? Similar to the first question, you can start dating whenever you want. Your spouse/ex has nothing to do and the information is irrelevant to the divorce. That said, if you have children the best advice is to not date or at least not date around the children. With a standard shared parenting, it should be easy to date on the 50% of the time when you do not have the children to prevent an allegation that your new beau is not in the children’s best interest.

How does a new spouse affect support? If the party receiving spousal maintenance remarries, their support will likely terminate pursuant to KRS 403.250. Conversely, child support should not be modified based on remarriage by either party. The new spouse’s income is not relevant to the proceedings, unless to establish that one party is voluntarily underemployed.

Girlfriends, boyfriends and many other relationships also gives great fodder for rumors and distrust between divorcing parties and the children. Remember, it is important to maintain a sensible relationship with the other parent of your children. In order to keep the relationship amicable and emotions to a minimum, you should keep new relationships away from the spouse.

If you have questions about involving a paramour, girlfriend, boyfriend or any other person, you should first speak with your attorney. Much advice in this arena is case specific and may depend on the stage of your divorce and many other factors which are individual to you and your case. This may include mental health, attorneys involved, and the Judge to whom your case is assigned. Knowledge of all of these is essential to receiving the best and most specific legal advice.

If you are looking to hire an attorney or for consultation, contact Michael Bouldin at 859-581-6453 (581-MIKE) or email mwbouldin2@gmail.com.

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Covid-19 Custody Update!

The Kentucky Supreme Court issued Custody and Parenting Time Orders on March 24, 2020. Click link above for court text. In summary, the order provides:

To avoid confusion and provide guidance and assistance to parties to a custody or parenting time order, the Supreme Court, under Section 116 of the Kentucky Constitution and Supreme Court Rule 1.010, hereby ORDERS as follows:
For purposes of determining a person’s right to possession of and access to a child under a court-ordered custody or parenting time schedule, the existing court order shall control. However, reasonable accommodations shall be made to account for extenuating circumstances related to the COVID-19 emergency and to give full effect to Executive Order 2020-215 and any other Executive Order intended to protect the overall public health and welfare.
Specifically, the existing court order shall be considered temporarily modified to suspend parenting time for a period of 14 days for any person who:

  1. Tests positive for COVID-19 or shares a household with someone who tests positive for COVID-19;
  2. Has been advised that he or she, or someone with whom he or she shares a household, has possibly been exposed to COVID-19; or
  3. Has, within the last 14 days, traveled to any area with a CDC Level 2 or 3 Travel Health Notice.

Any person experiencing the above-listed circumstances shall, upon discovery, immediately notify the other party(ies).
Any person whose parenting time is suspended pursuant to this order shall be granted liberal communication with the child(ren) subject to any restrictions specifically stated in the existing order(s).
Nothing in this Order prevents parties from altering a custody or parenting time schedule by agreement if allowed by their court order(s), or courts from modifying their orders on an emergency basis or otherwise.
The Supreme Court acknowledges that this is a rapidly evolving situation and respectfully asks all parties with a custody or parenting time order for patience and cooperation as we work to balance court access with public health.

if you have ongoing questions, first call your attorney. If you are in need of an attorney, please contact Michael Bouldin for consultation and representation. Contact email mwbouldin2@gmail.com or call 859-581-6453.

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Modification of Alimony

In many divorces one spouse may be obligated to pay alimony, maintenance or spousal support to the other. Alimony is usually awarded in cases when the couple has been married for a number of years and there is a disparity between the incomes of the two spouses.

Alimony may be awarded as a lump sum or a series of payments over a specified period of time.  The award may be temporary or permanent, depending on the specific circumstances in the case. For example, sometimes, temporary maintenance is needed to give the recipient spouse time to obtain the schooling and/or training needed to re-enter the workforce. Other times, ongoing spousal support is necessary in order for the recipient spouse to maintain a similar standard of living that the parties enjoyed during the marriage.

Following a divorce, time and circumstances may change that could greatly impact the financial situation of either party. When this happens, one of the ex-spouses may want to revisit the original divorce decree or settlement and seek a modification or termination of spousal support.

When does Alimony Terminate?

There are some instances when spousal support automatically comes to an end. The death of either spouse is one such event, as well as the remarriage of the recipient spouse. It is important to note that although cohabitation (on the part of the recipient spouse) may provide grounds to modify or eliminate alimony, this does not happen automatically. It must be determined by the court based on how long the couple has been cohabitating, as well as any provisions written into the divorce settlement that address this issue.

It is also important to note that lump-sum alimony cannot be terminated. A payor spouse cannot be reimbursed for alimony that he or she has already paid in the past, they can only adjust or eliminate the support payments going forward. The only possible exception to this rule would be fraud.

When can Alimony be Modified?

It is possible to modify spousal support in Kentucky, but it may not be easy. To seek a modification, there must be a “material change in circumstance” that is ongoing and has made the original alimony award unwarranted or unreasonable. The official language is that it makes the original award unconscionable under KRS 403.250. This is a difficult standard to meet, although not impossible.

There are many as life changes that may qualify under this standard, but you must also be prepared to present a strong case to the family court and effectively articulate the reasons why alimony should be modified. Some of the circumstances in which a court may approve a modification of spousal support include:

  • Loss of Job: If the payor spouse loses his or her job, this of course would make it very difficult to maintain alimony payments to the recipient spouse. If, on the other hand, the recipient spouse loses his or her job, they may ask for an increase in support. Generally this is only for loss of job through no fault. It does not include loss of job if fired for cause or if you quit.
  • Illness or Disability: If the payor spouse becomes seriously ill or disabled, this can result in a permanent inability to work, as well as high medical bills. With this type of situation, it can be strongly argued that this spouse can no longer afford to pay the same level of alimony, or in some cases, any alimony at all. And if the recipient spouse becomes seriously ill or disabled, they could argue for an increase in support. Parties should note whether disability insurance or other income is available.
  • New Obligations: New obligations could affect the ability of the payor spouse to maintain the current level of support. One common example is if this spouse has a new child with another partner who needs to be supported. Note: this is generally disfavored since the original obligation arose before the new obligation.
  • Retirement: Retirement might cause a significant and permanent change in financial circumstances. However, courts do not always see this as a qualifying modification event. As with most other situations, the success of a modification petition due to retirement depends on the specific circumstances and the strength of the arguments presented to the court. This does not fly if there is a separation agreement since this could have/should have been contemplated at the time of agreement.

Need Legal Help with Alimony Modification in Kentucky? Contact your attorney. If you need advice or representation, contact Michael Bouldin at Bouldin Law Firm by using the contact information, calling 859-581-6453 or email mike@bouldinlawfimr.com.

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Criminal Rights During Emergency Orders

Emergency Orders issued by the governor cannot and do not suspend or supercede the United States Constitution. During this COVID-19 scare, many individuals are worried about their civil rights and liberties, especially those who are charged with a crime.

The courts have also issued orders to provide the greatest leniency during this crisis. Most people facing misdemeanor and traffic charges are being released without bond or even cited and released. The courts are continuing to hold regular hearings for those who are incarcerated to (1) review bonds; (2) hold arraignments via video from the jail; and (3) hold preliminary hearings for those in jail to assure there is probable cause of felony charges are appropriate.

Additionally, criminal defendants who are incarcerated retain their right to a speedy trial guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment. A violation of the Speedy Trial Clause is cause for dismissal with prejudice of a criminal case. Unfortunately, what many defendants believe is speedy and that which has been upheld by the Courts often substantially differ. Those wishing to assert their right to speedy trial should familiarize themselves with Barker v. Wingo (1972). and the Speedy Trial Act of 1974 to determine how these may apply to a specific case.

Do we still have the right to assemble as guaranteed under the First Amendment? The current executive orders do not allow persons to assemble. This does not prohibit the right to coordinate efforts through online forum or other means. It is likely that the current emergency orders issued by the governors in Ohio and Kentucky would survive constitutional scrutiny since they are ostensibly for the greater good due to the hysteria surrounding spreading of Coronavirus and they are specific as to time, location and manner.

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, you should contact and hire an experienced criminal defense attorney at your earliest convenience. Many times getting an attorney involved early is the best way to a good resolution. For consultation and representation, contact Michael Bouldin by calling 859-581-6453 or email mwbouldin2@gmail.com.

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Divorce, DVO and Court Filings During Coronavirus Update

As an attorney in this field for 25 years, I wanted to update the public and advise that you can still file for divorce and obtain an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) by filing a Domestic Violence (DV) Petition even during the Covid-19 scare with the courts technically closed.

The courts are remaining open for emergency issues. Those include Protective and other Emergency motions in addition to those arrested and sitting in jail. Most other court dates are being continued to later dates. You can file for an EPO by contacting the county attorney or calling the local District Court Clerk in the county you reside.

Currently, the courts are also processing those filings made online. Online filing does include filing Petition for Divorce/Dissolution in Kentucky. Most domestic attorneys have converted to electronic filing over the past 2 years and can file for divorce/dissolution during these times.

These trying times are exacerbated by financial concerns, loss of employment, unpaid bills and close proximity that quarantines mandate. Add into the mix that many staying at home increase alcohol consumption, and now we have the perfect recipe for domestic violence.

Additionally, the judges are also working during this time. They do have the ability to review all emergency motions and to make rulings. Courts have made various rulings, including restricting visitation, prohibiting travel outside of the US, and suspension of of air travel for children during this period.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, know your rights. Speak to an attorney or victim’s advocate, file for protection and/or file for divorce. The Women’s Crisis Center hotline (800-928-3335) and shelters have remained open. For more information or consultation, contact Mike@bouldinlawfirm.com or call 859-581-6453. If we’re not in, we will get your message and return your call.

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