Establishing a Child Custody Arrangement
There are two main options for establishing a child custody arrangement.
If it’s at all possible, you should try to discuss and agree to the terms of your child custody arrangement with the other parent. Agreeing ahead of time means that you can avoid an expensive and time-consuming trial. A skilled family lawyer can help you make sure that your custody agreement conversations are productive and comprehensive.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you and the other parent can’t agree on a child custody arrangement. In this situation, the case will go to family court and the judge will use their best judgment. The judge will establish a custody arrangement for you. An experienced attorney can present your case in a way that gives you the best chance of arriving at the best arrangement for your family.
Types of Child Custody in Kentucky
Many different terms are used to explain how child custody arrangements are set up in Kentucky. It’s important to know about joint custody versus sole custody, legal custody versus physical custody, and temporary custody versus permanent custody. Keep in mind that custody is always determined based on the best interests of the child.
Joint vs. Sole
In almost all cases, joint custody, or shared custody, will be awarded. Both parents will share custody of the child. Only in extreme cases will sole custody be awarded, where only one parent will have custody of the child.
Legal vs. Physical
Legal custody is the right to make important decisions on the child’s behalf. In most situations, both parents will have legal custody (meaning they will have joint legal custody of the child). The parent who is currently physically caring for the child has physical custody.
Temporary vs. Permanent
During the divorce proceedings, the court will generally award temporary custody to one parent. After the divorce has been finalized, a permanent custody arrangement will be set.
Factors Considered in Determining Custody
There are several different factors that affect how custody is determined. In Kentucky, the court will consider:
- how hard a time the child would have adjusting to a new neighborhood or school
- the child’s wishes
- the emotional bonds between the child and both parents
- the parents’ wishes
- each parent’s ability to parent
- what would be best for the child
These are some, but not all, of the factors the judge will consider.
Factors Considered in Determining Parent Visitation
Visitation is the arrangement for seeing the child that is given to a non-custodial parent. Parents may set their own visitation schedule and present it to the court as a parenting plan. In extreme cases, where the child’s physical or mental health may be at risk, or where there was a history of abuse or neglect, the court may deny visitation to the non-custodial parent.
Modifying an Existing Child Custody Arrangement
At some point, your child custody arrangement may stop working for you. You may remarry or lose your job. Or, the other parent may not be holding up their end of the agreement. In these and other situations involving significant life changes, it’s possible to change your child custody agreement. Requesting a modification to your child custody arrangement involves proving that there was a serious life change.