Kentucky divorce: custody decisions in the child’s best interest

Child custody decisions in Kentucky are child centered and based on his or her best interests.

Not much in life is more stressful than being a parent at the end of a marriage who faces a nasty fight over child custody. Not only is it emotionally taxing for the parents, but also hard on the kids, especially if they are mature enough to understand the proceedings.

One way to try to lessen the stress on everyone is to negotiate a marital settlement agreement in which custody and visitation issues are decided by the divorcing spouses, usually communicating through their respective family lawyers. Although negotiation may involve some serious compromise, at least the parties have some control over the outcome, rather than leaving the children's future to the judge's discretion.

If the soon-to-be-ex-spouses cannot reach a joint decision about custody, the Kentucky state court judge handling the divorce will have to make custody decisions for the family. Kentucky law directs the judge to give each parent equal consideration.

As are those in other states, the judge must consider the facts and circumstances of the family and child to come to decisions the court believes will be in the child's best interest. Kentucky statute says that the judge is to consider all relevant factors, but specifically including:

  • Parental wishes
  • Child's wishes
  • Child's relationships with each parent, siblings and other significant people that impact the child's best interests
  • Child's adjustment to home, school and community
  • Everyone's mental and physical health
  • Domestic violence
  • History of child living with a third party, parental intent in that placement and the surrounding circumstances

Kentucky law also provides that the court "shall not consider conduct of a proposed custodian that does not affect his relationship to the child."

The judge has the discretion to interview the child in the judge's chambers about the child's preferences regarding custody and visitation. In addition, the court may order a custody evaluation be performed, or other experts may be consulted, such as mental health professionals.

There are two parts to child custody:

  • Legal custody or which parent can make important decisions impacting the child's life
  • Physical custody or with which parent will the child live

Either part of custody can be held jointly by both parents or solely by one. Legal custody is usually joint wherein the parents must be able to work together to make important decisions for their child such as those concerning health, religion, education and so on.

Often physical custody will be with one parent with whom the child will primarily live, with the other parent being allowed regular parenting time, known as visitation.

Any Kentuckian facing child custody issues should seek the advice of an experienced Kentucky family lawyer for advice, counsel and representation. In Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky, divorce attorney Kevin Moser of Kevin Moser Law, PLLC, represents clients in Kentucky and Indiana in custody, divorce and other family law matters.

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