How are new divorce and custody cases assigned a Judge and division in Jefferson Family Court?

With the November election just around the corner, many people in Louisville and Jefferson County, Kentucky, are probably unaware of how a new divorce or custody case being filed with the family court clerk is assigned a division (and its corresponding Judge).

Jefferson Family Court consists of ten (10) divisions, each with its own sitting Judge:

Jefferson Family Court Division # Judge Alphabet
*One (1)* *Hon. Joan L. Byer* A-Bri
Two (2) Hon. Hugh Smith Haynie Brj-Cra
*Three (3)* *Hon. Patricia Walker Fitzgerald* Frankl-Hec
Four (4) Hon. Dolly Wisman Berry Trp-Z
*Five (5)* *Hon. Eleanore M. Garber* Sf-Tro
*Six (6)* *Hon. Jerry J. Bowles* Meb-Pic
*Seven (7)* *Hon. Joseph W. O'Reilly* Pid-Se
*Eight (8)* *Hon. Donna L. Delahanty* Crb-Frank
Nine (9) Hon. Stephen M. George Kinh-Mea
Ten (10) Hon. Paula F. Sherlock Hed-King
* - Denotes a division with a departing Judge and contested election in November

The "Alphabet" column in the table above is important above as it specifies how cases are assigned to certain divisions. When the clerk receives a new divorce, legal separation, or custody case for filing, the last name of the female party determines the division in which the case will be filed. For example, if John Appleseed and Judy Appleseed are the parties listed in a new divorce filing, the case would be assigned to Jefferson Family Court Division One (1).

If a party has a hyphenated last name, then the second part of the last name would be used to assign the case to a family court judge. If both parties are of the same sex, then the case is assigned based on the last name of the Petitioner, i.e. the person filing the case.

The family court system is centered around the idea of "one family, one judge, one court." Therefore, Jefferson Family Court local rules provide that if a new action is filed regarding the same parties, then the case should be assigned to the family court division in which the parties first appeared.

To read a copy of the Jefferson Family Court rules for yourself, click on the following link: http://courts.ky.gov/Local_Rules_of_Practice/C30FAMILYRULES.pdf


As can be seen from the table above, the Jefferson Family Court will be going through significant change over the coming months as six (6) of the ten (10) divisions will be undergoing a change in Judge, and the Court as a whole will be losing dozens of years of experience. To get informed about the candidates who are seeking to fill those vacancies, feel free to explore the links below (listed in no particular order):