Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody
In Kentucky, there are two types of child custody – legal custody and physical custody.
According to Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 403.800 (14), physical custody refers to the parent who has the child's physical care and control. The child will live with the parent who has been awarded physical custody.
Legal custody refers to the parent who has the right and responsibility to make important life decisions on the child's behalf. The parent who has been awarded legal custody will be responsible for making crucial decisions about the child's education, health care, culture, religion, and other important life matters.
Additionally, custody can be awarded as sole or joint in Kentucky. However, Kentucky custody laws require the judge to assume that joint custody is in the child's best interest. This enables both parents to be actively involved in the child's life.
Which Factors Will Be Considered
When Determining Custody?
According to Kentucky Revised Statutes § 403.270 (2), when determining custody, the presiding judge must use the "best interest of the child" standard. This means that the following factors are often considered when attempting to determine what is best for the child:
- The wishes of the child and parents for custody
- The physical condition and mental health of all parties involved
- The interaction and interrelationship between the child, parents, and other siblings,
- The motivation of each parent who is seeking a contested custody hearing
- The ability of the child to adjust to a new home, school, and community
- The willingness of one parent to establish communication and continuing contact with the other parent
- Any evidence, record, or history of domestic abuse, neglect, or drug use
How to Modify an Existing
Child Custody Arrangement
Before seeking a modification, Kentucky law requires the parents to wait for at least 2 years after the initial decree. To modify an existing child custody order, the requesting parent must show that:
- There has been a significant change of circumstances since the initial order.
- The present environment of the child may endanger the child's mental, physical, emotional, or moral health.
The following are some major life events that may provide the opportunity to request a child custody modification:
- Involuntary loss of job
- Changes in the parent's marital status
- Child abuse or neglect by either parent
- Medical condition
- Failure of the other parent to hold up their end of the agreement
- Substance abuse
Work With Experienced Child Custody
Attorneys in Elizabethtown, Kentucky
Determining child custody in Kentucky often involves a lot of complex legal procedures. Establishing child custody arrangements, allocating visitation periods, and agreeing on parental responsibility can quickly become overwhelming for many parents. That’s why it is so important to consult with an experienced Kentucky family law attorney who can provide comprehensive guidance and protect your family's future.
At Bland & Birdwhistell, PLLC, our attorneys have devoted their careers to offering affordable and reliable legal services to individuals and families facing divorce and child custody. As experienced child custody attorneys, we can guide you through the process of establishing or modifying custody arrangements. Our team will review the unique circumstances of your case and address your needs and concerns with compassion and complete dedication. We will work tirelessly to protect your rights and do all that we can to help you move forward as quickly and amicably as possible. If you or someone you know is facing a difficult child custody battle, call our office today to receive the detailed legal guidance and advocacy you need.