Guide to Child Custody Laws in Kentucky
If you are having a dispute relating to child custody in Kentucky, yo u may want to know more about the laws governing custody disputes. Child custody laws in Kentucky are not especially complex, but they give a large amount of discretion to judges. In Kentucky, the overriding principle is the best interests of the child. This guide can help you to understand the child custody laws in Kentucky and how the courts determine the best interests of a child.
Parenting Plans and Mediation
Generally, Kentucky courts feel that children's best interests are served by their parents agreeing on custody arrangements, rather than fighting and having their dispute resolved by the court system. To that end, child custody laws in Kentucky allow parents to draft a parenting plan that details exactly how their parenting responsibilities will be divided.
Parenting plans are not always easy for parents to agree on. If you and your ex-spouse are having a difficult time negotiating an agreement about one or more issues in your parenting plan, child custody laws in Kentucky allow for mediation. Mediation works to resolve disputes using a third-party, neutral mediator. Usually, mediation allows parents to settle their differences without as much animosity.
After you draft a parenting plan, it will still need to be approved by a judge. Child custody laws in Kentucky allow judges to modify or even deny a parenting plan if it would not be in the child's best interest. However, this rarely happens in practice—in general, if you and your spouse can find a ground of agreement, the court will sign off on it.
Can My Child Choose?
Many people believe that children are allowed to decide which parent to live with once they are teenagers. While the wishes of a child are one factor that figures into child custody determinations, child custody laws in Kentucky do not permit any minor child to make a final determination about where to reside. Judges are substantially more likely to take a child's wishes into consideration when the child is older, but may still elect to grant custody to either parent.
Factors for Determining Custody
Child custody laws in Kentucky use a variety of factors to help courts determine what is in the best interests of the child. Courts must consider the following factors in addition to the wishes of the child and of the parents:
ñ The relationship of the child to each parent and his or her siblings
ñ The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community
ñ The mental and physical health of the child and parents
ñ Any history of domestic violence or abuse by either parent
ñ Whether a child has been cared for by a de facto custodian during the custody hearing process and the circumstances under which this occurred
No one factor will make a judge's determination. Child custody laws in Kentucky require judges to issue custody orders based on the totality of the evidence presented to them.