Divorce & Joint Custody Laws in Kentucky

By Mary Jane Freeman

Joint custody is not defined in Kentucky law. However, as in all states, Kentucky's Revised Statutes provide the standard by which all custody arrangements are to be decided -- including joint custody -- and that is "in the best interests of the child." Therefore, if you can demonstrate to the court that sharing custody with your ex-spouse is in your child's best interests, the court will likely honor your request and adopt joint custody as the official custody arrangement in your final divorce decree.

Joint Custody

Custody comes in two forms: physical and legal. Physical custody, known as residential custody in Kentucky, represents where the child lives. Legal custody represents the parent's right to make important decisions for the child, such as religion, education and medical treatment. When courts award joint custody in Kentucky, both parents are typically granted joint legal custody with one parent serving as the child's primary residential parent, the parent with whom the child lives most of the time. However, Kentucky courts will sometimes award both joint legal custody and joint physical custody. This arrangement is known as joint custody with equal parenting time. Since joint custody requires cooperation between parents, the court may employ the services of a parenting coordinator when parents are in disagreement.

50/50 Parenting Time

Joint residential custody in Kentucky is sometimes referred to as 50/50 custody or 50/50 parenting time. In such arrangements, parents spend equal, or almost equal, time with their child. Since Kentucky favors joint custody arrangements over sole custody, where one parent has physical custody, legal custody or both, 50/50 parenting time arrangements are not uncommon and may come in various forms. For example, each parent may have residential custody of their child during alternating weeks instead of one parent having custody during the week and the other parent having custody only on the weekends.

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Best Interests of the Child

If parents are unable to reach a custody agreement on their own, the court will make the decision for them based on what arrangement would be in the best interests of the child. In making this determination, the court evaluates a variety of factors, including the wishes of the parents, child's relationship with each parent and adjustment to his home, school and community, and the physical and mental health of the parents and child. While the court will also consider the wishes of the child, it won't base its decision on the child's wishes alone. The court may also order a psychologist-prepared custody evaluation, if necessary.

Child Support

Although Kentucky has established child support guidelines by which to calculate child support, it has yet to create a formula that applies to 50/50 parenting time custody arrangements. Nonetheless, child support may be awarded in such cases, particularly if one parent makes more money than the other. However, the higher earning parent is likely to pay a lower amount in child support than would otherwise be assigned in a joint custody with primary residential parent arrangement.

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Child Custody Options in Iowa


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What Is the Difference Between Custodial Parent and Sole Legal Custody of a Child?

Custody is a serious decision that comes into play when parents are no longer married to each other. Unless both parents come to a mutual agreement, a court will dictate which parent the child will live with, who will be responsible for critical decisions relating to the child and whether both parents will share legal or physical custody. Custody arrangements can be modified, and are typically used until the child reaches adulthood -- which is age 18, in most states. Custody determinations are made in accordance with the best interests of the child. Custody is also a concept of state law, and the concept varies by state; its terminology, however, is typically universally accepted. For example, legal custody is not defined in Hawaii state law, but attorneys use the term, because its meaning is universally understood. There are four major custody arrangements, with the differences being which parent is able to make important decisions for the child and where the child will live.

Mississippi Joint Custody Law

In Mississippi, as in all states, custody decisions are made according to the best interests of the child. Judges may consider a number of factors, including the health and stability of each parent, attachment the child has to each parent and the child's preference. In many cases, a judge will award joint custody. There are a variety of joint custody arrangements available, but -- at minimum -- joint custody means parents share in decision-making regarding the child.

About Dual Custody

Child custody evaluator Jonathan Gould argues in his book, "The Art and Science of Child Custody Evaluations," that children can suffer from a number of psychological and behavioral problems if the relationship with a parent is severed or weakened during divorce proceedings. Many courts look to some form of dual custody -- more commonly referred to as joint custody -- as a way of protecting the best interests of children. Joint custody arrangements do not necessarily require parents to split time with the child equally, and there are many joint custody options available to families.

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