Kentucky Family Court is a division of the Circuit Court. According to the Kentucky Court of Justice, Family Court is split out to deal with the “intimate and complex aspects of human nature and social relations.” This division uses a case management process which is unlike how the other courts in the state work. Furthermore, they believe that their “One Family, One Judge, One Court approach” helps to achieve the most favorable outcomes in each case and helps with the stress and emotional upheaval many of these types of issues produce.
Because Family Court is part of the Circuit Court system (the highest trial court in the state), they do not compete with civil and criminal cases they have a dedicated staff and full-time judges that only work in Family Court.
Some of the types of cases heard in Family Court are:
- Dissolution of marriage
- Spousal support and equitable
- Child custody, support, and visitation
- Paternity, adoption
- Domestic violence
- Dependency, neglect, and abuse
- Termination of parental rights
- Status Offenses (runaways, truancy, beyond control)
The Family Court pilot program was launched in 1991. This initiative was the first court in the state to focus solely on family and child issues. The system worked and continued to grow to become one of the most successful and unique court operations in the state.
Due to its success, the Family Court model expanded to Louisville and then suburban and rural areas of the state. The Supreme Court decided to make it a permanent part of the Kentucky Constitution, and after a vote in November of 2002, it was added, and the amendment passed in all 120 counties. It received more than 75% of voter support.
The Kentucky Family Court serves 3.2 million Kentuckians spread over 71 counties. It is now used as the national model for a progressive and successful approach to legal family matters.