Kentucky Child Custody Questions

Kentucky child custody attorneys provide answers to frequently asked questions with regards to Kentucky child custody laws.

Who will get custody of our child?

In Kentucky, the courts are required to determine custody based upon the best interest of the child(ren). Usually, parents will share joint custody of the children and if their schedules will allow, will share 50-50 parenting time with the children. However, depending upon various issues that may arise and other situations, this may not always be the case.

What is joint custody? What is sole custody?

Joint custody is where two parents share joint decision-making for the child, usually for major life decisions. For the everyday decisions affecting the child, usually the parent who is in possession of the child makes those decisions, but when a major life decision affects the child, such as surgery, education or religion, parents who are joint custodians must agree on those decisions.

Sole custody is where one parent is granted custody of the children and will be the sole decision maker for the children. They will decide where they live, what doctor to see, what school to attend, etc.

If both parents share custody does anyone pay child support?

It is possible that even though you share custody one parent may still have to pay child support. Child support is intended to make both households as equal as possible. So even if it is joint custody, if one parent makes significantly more income than the other, they may have to pay child support.

Can a parent refuse to allow visitation if child support is not paid?

No, a parent may not refuse visitation if child support is not being paid. Child support is not a payment that ensures that a parent gets to see the child. If a parent does not pay child support, they may be held in contempt of court, but likewise, if a parent refuses to allow the other parent to see the child, they may also be held in contempt of court.

When can my child decide which parent to live with?

There is no magic age that a child gets to decide where they live. A child is a minor and the law presumes that a minor is not mature enough to make those types of decisions, regardless how mature they may seem. The court may take the wishes of the child into consideration when making its determination, but ultimately the court will decide what is in the best interest of the child.

Do grandparents have custody and visitation rights?

In Kentucky, grandparents may file a petition to establish grandparent visitation. The court will then determine if it is in the best interest of the child to order such visitation.

What is a parenting plan, and do I need one?

It depends. A parenting plan is a plan that is laid out by both parents on how they intend to parent their children after the divorce is final to ensure that there is consistency in the two households.

If my separation agreement includes custody/support can it be included in the divorce decree?

Usually, the separation agreement, if it is a final agreement, is included in the divorce decree. If it is a temporary agreement and the court is expected to establish permanent child support then the court may have to follow the child support guidelines.

What can I expect from temporary orders?

Temporary orders are suppose to be temporary and are not suppose to prejudice any party at the final hearing in the matter. However, temporary orders can also be a benchmark the court may use when making its final ruling.

When will child custody be decided?

Child custody is determined either by agreement of the parties or by order of the court. Depending on when the parties can agree or when the court issues its final order, will determine when child custody is determined.

When can I modify custody?

Child custody is always modifiable. However, after the initial child custody determination, a party may only seek to modify within the first two years if the child’s physical, emotional, or mental well-being is at stake. After the two-year period, the court can modify custody if it is in the best interest of the child.

What if we cannot agree on a custody arrangement?

If you are unable to agree on a custody arrangement, then the court will have to order a custody arrangement based upon the best interest of the child, which it will determine after you and your spouse put forward all your evidence at trial.

What is an ex parte order?

An ex-parte order is an order that is entered by the Court, when only one party is present and represented. Usually these are entered at the beginning of the case only in the most extreme circumstances, such as a parent threatening to flee with the children.

How is custody decided?

Custody is determined based upon a “best interest” standard. The court will hear all the evidence and then will issue an order as to what the court believes is in the best interest of the children.

How can I increase my chances at getting a larger custody agreement?

Your chances of gaining custody are increased by playing an active role in your children’s life and do not relinquish that time with your children. More often than not, one party will back away thinking that it will cause less conflict and that the children will be better off. Usually all that accomplishes is setting a pattern of any inactivity you may have in the children’s life.

What is visitation?

Visitation is a set schedule of your time with the children. It will usually set the time and the days that you get to see your children unencumbered by the other parent.

Can a judge order supervised visitation or no visitation?

Yes, a court can order supervised visitation or no visitation (in the most rare cases) if it is determined it is in the best interest of the children to do so.

Do courts favor the mother over the father?

The courts are required to be neutral when determining custody of the children and should not consider the sex of the parent when making that determination.

What should I know before a custody trial?

There are a lot of beneficial things to know prior to a custody trial. Having an experienced attorney is probably the best thing to have, as they will be able to prepare your case and you as a witness as well.

Can I collect my own evidence to use if my custody case goes to court?

When fighting for custody it is always a good idea to have an experienced attorney who knows what evidence will best help the court make its determination.

Do I need to use a Guardian ad Litem/Custody Evaluator?

A Guardian ad Litem or custodian evaluator is usually appointed in high conflict cases where the parents cannot get along and cannot agree on how to parent the children.

Will my child need to appear in court?

It depends. Usually, it is always a good idea to keep a child out of the courtroom, though sometimes it is unavoidable. It is possible that if the child must be questioned, that it take place in the judge’s chambers without the parents present.

What is the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act?

The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act is a federal law that is designed to help a parent who should have custody of a child to use local law enforcement to effectuate the return of a child, even though the court may have no jurisdiction in that state.

What if my wife tries to move the kids out state?

You will need to seek immediate relief from the court to enter an order to restrain her movement with the children.

Can a parent change the child’s last name without the other parent’s permission?

No. If a parent is attempting to change the last name of a child, then they will need to provide notice to the other party that they are attempting to do so.

If I have custody, will I receive child support?

You will more than likely receive child support if you have custody of your children.