How to handle child custody before the divorce

When people with children get a divorce in Kentucky, there is an interim period after they agree to divorce but before the divorce is final, when their custodial rights are equal. This means that, for example, either parent could take the child out of state.

For this reason and the child’s sake, it is best to establish a plan for custody during the divorce. This may be an informal verbal agreement, or it might be a court order. The important part is to establish structure for the children’s sake. Parents also should keep in mind that their behavior during this time could have some bearing on the court’s decision about custody. If they are irresponsible with their children or refuse to cooperate with the other parent, it could be looked upon unfavorably by the court.

While it may be impractical to strive for the child spending exactly equal time with each parent, there should be regular contact. Parents need to be flexible and communicative. This could mean taking the child on an unplanned weekend if the other parent runs into a scheduling conflict. When making final custody decisions, parents should think about what will give their children the most stability. Active duty service members with irregular schedules and possible deployments might not be able to be the custodial parent.

The custody arrangement after a divorce may be the same or similar to what it was before, or it may differ significantly. Parents are not necessarily required to go to court to get a judge’s decision on custody. They can make an agreement themselves for a judge to review and approve. If the case does end up going to court, a judge will consider elements such as which parent is the main caregiver in making a custody decision.