Understanding Kentucky’s Child Custody Laws

Kentucky has a reputation for having some of the most popular joint custody laws in the country. In 2018, Kentucky’s new joint custody law went into effect. When Kentucky’s Governor Matt Bevin signed the bill into law, it was the first of its kind. The law creates a presumption that when both parents are fit caregivers, shared parenting time and joint custody should be the norm. The law received unprecedented support from Republicans and Democrats. The bill passed both houses unanimously.

Determining Primary Child Custody in Kentucky

Until the passage of Kentucky’s new joint custody law, many Kentucky judges would name one parent as the “primary” custodian of the child. The court would give the primary custodian the right to the majority of the parenting time. In this type of custody agreement, the non-custodial parent can become a visitor in the child’s life. Some view the appointment of a primary custodian as adversarial, setting up a winner and loser mentality among divorcing parents.

Joint Custody is Often in the Child’s Best Interest

In many cases, joint custody and parenting time that is shared equally is in the best interest of the child. Currently, Kentucky child court judges should view parenting as the starting point and move on from that starting point. Kentucky judges now begin with joint custody then analyze the following factors:

  • The age of the child
  • The physical and mental well-being or lack of well-being of each parent
  • The capacity of each parent to provide for the child
  • The role each parent currently takes in caring for the child
  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • The time available to each parent to be with the child
  • The environment each parent can create for the child
  • The presence of siblings and the sibling’s relationship to each other and the child
  • Any prior bad acts of either parents including neglect or abuse
  • Any drug or alcohol problems with one or both parents
  • Religious considerations
  • The willingness of each parent to facilitate the other parent’s access to the child
  • Each parents adult relationships with other partners

Kentucky family court judges analyze the factors listed above to make sure that each parent qualifies for joint custody.

In Some Cases, Sole Custody is Best for the Child

In some cases, one parent should become disqualified from joint custody. Kentucky family court judges ultimately make decisions that uphold the best interest of the child, not the parents. When one of the parents has engaged in domestic violence, however, a judge will automatically disqualify that parent from being considered for shared parenting.

Our Family Law Attorneys Can Help

At Greg Baker Attorneys at Law PLLC, our Kentucky family law attorneys have helped many parents navigate child custody issues. Our hometown lawyers treat each client with the attention that they deserve. Contact our family law firm today at 606-403-1222 to schedule your free consultation and learn how we can represent your interests in your child custody matter.