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Kentucky First State To Pass Joint Child Custody Law

On behalf of Tasha K. Schaffner of Schaffner Family on Thursday, May 3, 2018.

Many years ago, it was presumed that mothers were best suited to be the primary caregivers in the event of a divorce. Over the past several years, there has been a shift toward permitting both parents shared parenting arrangements. Just recently, Kentucky became the first state to pass a law that requires judges to order joint child custody in the majority of cases.

The new law now stipulates that family courts default to a joint custody arrangement. This change was seen as a way to provide more children with the opportunity to spend equal time with both parents, thereby preserving the bonds that they have formed. The law’s supporters believe that the majority of children thrive best in a more stable home life that includes both parents playing an active role in their lives.

The law will allow each parent the opportunity to play a significant role in the upbringing of his or her children. Though many Kentucky parents are able to arrive at a child custody agreement outside of the courts, the new law provides a framework from which a judge can work. Opponents of the law assert that it removes a judge’s ability to individually assess each family’s situation and decide what arrangement will best serve each child’s interest given his or her unique circumstances and needs.

There is a provision written in the law that states that parents who had a domestic violence restraining order issued against them in the past 36 months will not be awarded joint child custody. However, some believe that could still place a child in jeopardy if a parent has committed any violent or abusive acts against someone other than a family member. Residents who are unable to devise their own parenting plan may seek the advice of a family law attorney.

Source:, “New Law Requires Judges To Default To Joint Custody In Divorce“, Ryland Barton, April 29, 2018

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