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What do Kentucky courts consider in child custody disputes?

When parents get divorced, perhaps the most important thing to figure out is what to do about the children. Most parents want what is best for their kids, and so does Kentucky law.

Like virtually every other state, Kentucky law requires family law courts to act in the best interests of the child. This means putting a child’s emotional and physical safety and development over his or her parents’ desires, if there is a conflict between those two motivations.

Just what is in the “best interests” of a particular child or set of siblings depends on their individual needs and circumstances. Like much of the law, figuring this out is often more of an art than a science. Among the factors state law suggests judges consider are:

  • The wishes of the parents.
  • The parents’ ability to parent appropriately.
  • Depending on his or her age, the child’s wishes.
  • Whether the child would struggle to adjust to a new home, neighborhood and/or school.

In some cases, domestic violence is a factor. Obviously, no court would knowingly put a child in harm’s way, though supervised visitation may be an option.

In the past, Kentucky moms tended to automatically receive sole custody of their young children, due to the “tender years” doctrine. Today, courts theoretically are not supposed to prefer one gender over the other.

If the parents or the court determine that it is in the children’s best interests that one parent receive sole custody, then the other parent will probably receive visitation rights. In some cases, it is also possible for grandparents to be granted visitation time by the court.

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