Copyright by Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG
May not be copied without written consent
Prior to 1849, divorces were granted in Kentucky either through an act of the legislature or through circuit court. After 1849, only circuit courts granted divorces. The filing and conclusion of the divorce are usually found in the circuit court order books (minutes), but the details of the case are found in circuit court case files at the Kentucky Dept for Libraries and Archives. Theses case files can be ordered by mail. Use this form: Divorce Request Form
The grounds for divorce were outlined in The Revised Statutes of Kentucky, approved and adopted by the General Assembly, 1851 and 1852, and in force from July 1, 1852, Volume II, page 17, Article III: Divorce and Alimony. Among the many grounds for divorce were the following:
1. Living separately and apart without cohabitation for five consecutive years before application.
2. Abandonment by one party from the other for one year.
3. Condemnation for felony in or out of this state.
4. Concealment from the other party of any loathsome disease existing at the time of marriage or afterward.
5. Force, duress, or fraud in obtaining the marriage.
6. Confirmed habit of drunkenness on the part of the husband of not less than one year's duration, accompanied with a wasting of his estate, and without suitable provision for the maintenance of his wife and children.
7. Habitual cruel and inhuman treatment of the wife by the husband of not less than 6 months.
8. Cruel beating or injury or attempt at injury of the wife by the husband.
9. Pregnancy of the wife by another man without the husband's knowledge at the time of the marriage.
10, Adultery committed by the wife or such lewd, lascivious behavior on her part so as to prove her t unchaste, without actual proof of a specific act of adultery.
Suit for divorce had to be brought in the county where the wife usually resided, if she had a residence in the state. If she did not, the suit was to be brought in the county of the husband's residence. Residence must be for one year before filing of the divorce. The suit for divorce had to be brought within 5 years of the the act complained of and cohabitation as man and wife, after knowledge of the adultery or lewdness complained of, took away the right of divorce thereafter.
A decree for separation or divorce from bed and board could also be rendered for the same causes which allowed regular divorce. Neither party in a divorce from bed and board could remarry during the lifetime of the parties.