Kentucky Child Custody
According to the United State Census Bureau, over 25% of children under the age of 21 lived with one parent in 2013 while the other parent lived somewhere else. Even more alarming, that same study revealed that only about one in every six parents with child custody was a father.
Now we know what you’re thinking — these statistics aren’t all that shocking. After all, 40-50% of U.S. marriages end in divorce these days, and mothers have always had an easier time gaining custody of their children.
But here’s the thing: parenting privileges are changing with the times, and you need to understand how this may affect your child custody case.
Kentucky’s Fight for Equal Parenting Privileges
In July of 2018, a new law came into effect here in Kentucky. This law (House Bill 528) states that in the event of a child custody dispute, Kentucky courts should default to joint custody and equal parenting privileges between two divorcing parents — assuming, of course, that both parents appear to be fit caregivers.
In other words, courts presented with two divorcing parents will automatically start the arrangement at an even 50/50 split of parenting privileges unless there’s an explicit reason (or set of reasons) to do otherwise.
How Does House Bill 528 Affect Me?
Whether you’re a mother or father, you may have certain presumptions about what’s going to happen with your case. As a mother, for example, you may assume that you’ll be granted sole custody and steep child support payments since (truth be told) that’s a long-standing stereotype associated with divorcing parents. As a father, you may fear the exact opposite — a nearly impossible-to-win battle for even a joint custody arrangement.
House Bill 528 exists for exactly these reasons. Parents tend to go into a divorce with a “win or lose” mentality, which (as countless studies have shown) creates nothing but tension and stress for everyone involved. By starting from a shared custody standpoint, courts feel they can promote healthier negotiations between parents and therefore a healthier end result for their children.
But What If My Ex Isn’t a Fit Parent?
While House Bill 528 was designed with children’s best interests in mind, there are of course exceptions to the rule that equal parenting time is ideal. For instance, if your ex’s lifestyle or behaviors could prove harmful to your children, then of course a 50/50 custody arrangement isn’t the right solution for your case. Kentucky courts recognize this possibility and will not hesitate to adjust to your custody arrangements if necessary.
Specifically, family courts look for evidence of the following issues when making changes to a child custody arrangement:
- History of abuse
- History of alcoholism or drug use
- Inability to support a child financially
- Inability to provide a stable home environment
- Physical or psychological concerns
These, of course, are some of the worst case scenarios. On the less traumatic end of the spectrum are factors such as:
- Preferences of the child
- How easily it appears the child will adjust to their new lifestyle
- Proximity to extended family and other loved ones
- Whether the child will need to change schools
- Religious factors
While we at the Law Offices of John Schmidt & Associates hope that your separation is amicable, know that we are more than prepared to argue your case in or out of court.
Does a Court Always Determine Child Custody Arrangements?
Now, we’ve been talking a lot about House Bill 528 and how it changes the court’s approach to your case. But you may be wondering whether your case will need to go to court in the first place. Can’t you just come up with an arrangement on your own?
The simple answer is “yes, you can.” Assuming that you and your ex can see eye to eye on factors like living arrangements, parenting privileges, and financial responsibilities, you can come up with your own child custody terms and simply have them approved by the court later on. However, it’s important that you take these steps correctly; otherwise, you may run into unnecessary legal complications.
Contact Us Today
To make the negotiation process smoother, and to ensure that all of your paperwork is handled correctly, we invite you to schedule an appointment with the Law Offices of Schmidt & Associates. We will be more than happy to guide you and your ex through your custody negotiations and to help you keep the conversation productive. And, if it comes down to arguing your case in court, we will be more than prepared to advocate for you and your children.