Developing a child custody agreement can be a difficult task. It’s natural for parents to get emotional about any discussion about their children’s futures, and it gets harder when they have to have this discussion and reach agreement with an ex. If they can reach agreement, they send off their agreement for approval by the court. If they can’t reach agreement, they must let the court decide how to divide custody.
A rebuttable presumption
Kentucky courts decide child custody disputes on the basis of the child’s best interests, and under Kentucky law, the child’s best interests are served by spending equal time with each parent. The law refers to this principle as a “rebuttable presumption,” which means the court presumes that an equal split is best, unless one of the parties can show evidence that this type of split would not be in the child’s best interests.
The most serious factor that can rebut this presumption is domestic violence and abuse. If there is a domestic violence order in place, the court will make no presumption about equal time. Furthermore, if the judge determines that one of the parties committed domestic violence and abuse against the other and/or against a child of one of the parties, then the judge may determine that it is in the child’s best interests to spend less time, or no time at all, with the abuser. In its decision, the court will first consider: the extent to which the abuse has affected the child; the extent to which the abuse has affected the child’s relationship with either party; and any domestic violence treatment program or counseling.
There are other factors which could persuade a court that equal time is not in the child’s best interests. Parents who are concerned about the equal time provision can speak to a skilled family law attorney about their rights and legal options.