Whether a couple who shares children together needs a divorce or merely breaks up, they must determine child custody. This can range from a roughly 50-50 custody split to sole custody for one parent with parenting time (commonly known as visitation time) reserved for the other parent.
The arrangement you and your co-parent negotiate will depend on factors like how far apart you live, where the kids go to school and the practicalities of transfers. There are two major guidelines under Kentucky law: the children’s best interests must be the primary concern. And state law presumes that divorcing parents will share joint custody.
Why the preference for joint custody?
The principle behind this law, which is one of the first of its kind in the United States, is that children do better when both parents raise them, even if the parents are no longer in a relationship. But this is a presumption, not a requirement. If you or your co-parent believes that splitting child custody evenly is not possible or in the children’s best interests, you can challenge this presumption in court.
Reasons to rebut the presumption
Domestic violence is one obvious reason joint custody would not be appropriate and the judge would order a different arrangement. A parent who abuses their children cannot be trusted to provide a safe and nurturing home for them. Other potential reasons to request sole custody include:
- Drug or alcohol addiction
- Mental illness
- Lack of relationship with the children
Your kids deserve the best childhood possible, whether that means spending part of the time with your co-parent or living with you full-time. An experienced family law attorney will fight by your side to reach a child custody order tailored to your family’s situation.