Conflict of Laws – Ky Published Family Law Opinion from Ky Supreme Court

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KENNETH KIRILENKO V. CHERRYL KIRILENKO

Husband and Wife moved to Kentucky shortly after Husband began receiving disability and retirement benefits from his Connecticut employer. Several years later, Wife filed a divorce action in Kentucky. Under Kentucky law, Husband’s disability benefits are non-marital, while under Connecticut law they may be marital. The trial court found that Kentucky law applied, as Kentucky was the domicile of both parties at the time of dissolution. The Court of Appeals reversed applying the most significant relationship test to the disability benefits and finding that Connecticut law should be used because that state had the most significant relationship to the benefits.

The Supreme Court granted discretionary review and reversed the Court of Appeals holding the most significant relationship test has not been adopted by Kentucky in domestic relations cases, only tort and contract cases. In a dissolution proceeding, “the classification and division of property is governed by the law of the forum,” in this case Kentucky. The Supreme Court agrees with the Court of Appeals that there are open questions of fact regarding the nature of the benefits, and remands the case to the trial court to address these outstanding issues.

Justice Venters, Chief Justice Minton, and Justice Noble concur in result only arguing the most significant relationships test should apply.

Digested by Elizabeth M. Howell

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