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How does child custody work in Kentucky?

| Oct 30, 2020 | Firm News

As of 2018, Kentucky courts default to joint custody when parents divorce or end their relationship. Unless the case involves domestic violence, parents have the right to share parenting time and legal custody equally if they choose to do so. 

Review these guidelines to reach a parenting agreement that will receive approval by Kentucky family court. 

Defining legal and physical custody

Physical custody is the amount of time the child spends in each parent’s residence. While 50/50 physical custody is the default in Kentucky, families can decide to give one parent primary physical custody with reasonable visitation for the other parent. 

Regardless of the physical custody decision, both parents share legal custody except in cases involving abuse or neglect. Legal custody is the parental right to have input on the child’s religious upbringing, education, medical care and other important decisions. 

Negotiating a parenting agreement

Kentucky encourages parents to reach a custody agreement through independent negotiation or mediation. If they cannot do so, the judge will review both parents’ preferences and make a decision. 

While custody cases rarely go to trial, parents who seek sole custody must provide evidence of domestic abuse history. Otherwise, because of the default standard, the judge will order 50/50 custody with possible adjustments based on the child’s best interests. Factors in the best interest determination include the child’s overall well-being, school and community adjustment, existing family relationship, and his or her wishes depending on age. 

Even when parents agree on custody, having a court order can prevent disagreements in the future. The parenting agreement goes into explicit detail about the parenting schedule, transportation arrangements and other common factors that can lead to conflict.