Do Courts Favor Mothers Over Fathers in Child Custody Cases?
One of the most contentious issues among divorcing parents involves the custody of minor children. Whether one or another spouse believes that they will do a better job parenting the children and/or the parents are participating in an ongoing power struggle, the courts often have to step in to make these types of decisions.
Dads have historically received the short end of the stick when it comes to child custody cases, but the tide has begun to shift in recent years. In fact, Kentucky was the first state in the nation to pass a law establishing joint custody as the standard in divorce cases.
Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody
There are different types of custody agreements, and the Kentucky family law courts still have wide discretion to make decisions they believe will be in the best interests of the children. Sole custody refers to one parent being granted legal custody of the children. In this arrangement, that parent will also make decisions about medical care, education, and religious upbringing. The other parent might still have visitation privileges.
Joint custody is a legal arrangement where both parents share the decision-making responsibilities for the child. When it comes to everyday decisions, such as what to wear or have for dinner, those choices are up to the parent that has physical custody of the child at the time.
Kentucky Now Presumes a Joint Custody Arrangement
Family law courts across the nation have historically favored mothers over fathers in child custody cases, but this is changing. In 2018, Kentucky became the first state in the country to require the presumption of a shared parenting arrangement in child custody cases, even when one or both parents are opposed.
While it has become common for states to prefer this type of arrangement when both parents agree, Kentucky will be the first state to use this as the standard with temporary custody arrangements, considered the starting point in divorce cases, even when both parents have yet to jump on board.
It is important to note that no one is guaranteed custody of a child in Kentucky, even under the new law. For example, if there are cases of potential abuse or neglect, the courts can still step in.
What Does a Joint Custody Agreement Look Like in Kentucky?
There is a common assumption that joint custody means children will spend half of their time with one parent and half with the other. This may not be practical and might not be the arrangement that makes the most sense in your case.
There is a difference between joint legal and residential custody. Your child might live primarily with one parent and have a regular visitation schedule with the other. The other parent also has legal custody, meaning they are a co-parent that shares in major decisions related to the child’s welfare.
When judges decide where a child will live, they consider many factors. These include the child’s age, gender, physical and mental health, and relationship with each parent. Kentucky employs a standard known as the “best interests of the child” rule. Each decision related to custody, visitation, and support must be in the best interests of the child as opposed to what works best for the parents.
How Does Child Support Work with Joint Custody?
Child support is treated separately from custody, although the amount of time a child spends with each parent is a factor in calculations. Even when parents have joint custody, one parent might owe child support to the other.
Child support is meant to make the households as equal as possible and provide for the needs and welfare of the child. If one parent earns significantly more money than other, even when there is equal custody, they may be required to pay child support.
Speak with a Qualified Kentucky Family Law Attorney
The state may have made certain choices on your behalf, but a divorce in Kentucky is still a complex matter, particularly when there are children involved. Nothing is guaranteed, and it is more important than ever that you take the steps necessary to protect the rights and financial well-being of you and your children.
At the Ron Aslam Law Office, our experienced Kentucky family law attorney understands how these changing statutes can impact your case, and he will take the steps necessary to protect your rights. Contact our Louisville office at 502-581-1676 to schedule your initial consultation.