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Child custody, de facto custodians

When Kentucky courts determine child custody matters during a divorce, they consider what is in the best interests of the children involved. Joint or sole custody may be awarded, and judges give equal consideration to parents and de facto custodians when making decisions.

A de facto custodian is usually someone who has provided financial support and been the primary caregiver for a certain time period. This applies when a child under 3 lives with a custodian for six months or more. Children who are older must live with a caregiver for at least a year. If a parent files to regain custody, then the time afterwards does not count toward the required minimum period when considering whether one is a de facto custodian.

First, a court looks for clear evidence that a person is a de facto custodian. If the person does qualify, then the court gives this person the same standing afforded to each parent in child custody determinations. The court will take into consideration the wishes of each parent and the de facto custodian when awarding custody.

Courts also look at several other factors when determining custody. These include the child's connection to his or her home, community and school along with the relationship a child has with siblings and relatives. The court also considers the relationship a child has with each parent and a custodian and may ask a child's preferences. A judge may assign joint custody to a parent and de facto custodian. If there is no de facto custodian, both parents may receive joint custody. As long as two individuals are fit to raise a child and can offer a safe environment, then it is likely in the best interests of a child to maintain a relationship with both people.

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