Divorce can be tough on parents who may be concerned about how much time they will get to spend with their child once their split is complete. However, they may understand that their child needs to spend time with both of them and that they need to respect each other’s right to have a meaningful relationship with their child.
Per Kentucky statutes it is presumed that joint custody and equally shared parenting time is in the best interests of the child. The following is a brief overview of child custody in Kentucky and when the above presumption may be deviated from.
What is legal custody versus parenting time?
Legal custody involves a parent’s right to make key life decisions on behalf of the child. Some examples of such decisions include where the child will go to school, what religion the child will participate in and which doctors the child will see. When legal custody is held jointly, both parents enjoy these rights and generally will have to come to an agreement on them.
Parenting time involves who the child lives with on a daily basis and when. When parenting time is shared equally, this means each parent will have roughly the same amount of time with the child in their care.
When can courts deviate from the presumption of joint custody and equal parenting time?
It is possible to deviate from the presumption that joint custody and equal parenting time is in the child’s best interests. When making such decisions the court will consider a variety of factors, including:
- The preferences of the parents
- The child’s preference
- The child’s relationship with each parent and siblings
- Each parent’s motivation in participating in the child custody proceedings
- The child’s adjustment and proximity to school and their community
- The health of both parents
- The health of the child
- Whether domestic abuse is an issue
- The likelihood that each parent will let the child have frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with the other parent
These are only some factors courts will consider. Other factors may be considered, especially if the custody proceedings involve a de facto custodian.
Ensuring child custody decisions are fair
Ultimately, it is important to ensure that any child custody decisions made are in the child’s best interests. Parents who work together both during the divorce process and afterwards to ensure the child grows and thrives post-divorce may find the ultimate outcome of child custody proceedings to be fair and appropriate.