On April 13, 2018 the Kentucky Legislature passed revisions to KRS 403.270. This law focuses on providing both parents equal footing in Kentucky child custody and timesharing determinations. Kentucky is the first state to have a child custody law with a presumption of permanent joint custody and equal parenting time.
What does the law mean?
KRS 403.270 was revised to allow parents to start out on equal footing before Kentucky family courts in child custody and timesharing determinations. It is important to bear in mind that the revision to the law does not mandate joint custody and equal timesharing be awarded to all parents. This is a common misconception that we address several times a week.
Instead, the statute mandates in part:
“There shall be a presumption, rebuttable by a preponderance of evidence, that joint custody and equally shared patenting time is in the best interest of the child. If a deviation from equal parenting time is warranted, the court shall construct a parenting time schedule which maximizes the time each parent or de facto custodian has with the child and is consistent with ensuring the child’s welfare.”
The revision embodies the spirit of the widely held belief that it is in the best interests of children that both parents play a meaningful, hands-on role in the upbringing and care of their children.
What is the impact of KRS 403.270?
I practice family law throughout the entire state of Kentucky. I do not believe the application of the “rebuttable presumption” for joint custody and equal timesharing has been an earthshaking change. Most courts were already starting from a place of joint custody and equal timesharing when making child custody and timesharing determinations. Of course, there were still a few outliers that were slow to catch up. In my experience a large number of Kentucky family courts seem to have looked first to providing parties joint custody and equal timesharing of their children for several years. For those courts who were slow to adapt, this law requires them to do so immediately.
Has the law changed anything? Yes! Since the law was enacted, we have seen a substantial impact on the willingness of parents to negotiate and mediate child custody and timesharing issues. In the past, parents would spend thousands of dollars litigating the issue in hopes of keeping the other parent from sharing custody and equal time with their children.
The new law discourages this behavior. In the past many parents were inclined to believe that one party or the other stood a greater chance of being awarded custody and timesharing. Because of that ill-conceived notion, one parent would generally threaten to litigate the matter to the fullest extent. This parent would resist negotiating an agreement or attending mediation. With a presumption of joint custody, I have found that parents are less likely to seek full, sole custody.
That is not to say that you should not seek full custody. If your child’s other parent is a danger to your child or refuses to properly parent, you should absolutely seek full custody. Remember, the presumption of joint custody is “rebuttable,” meaning the Family Court hearing your case has discretion to award sole custody if the facts warrant it.
Discuss your case with a lawyer today!
Are you engaged in a custody battle? Have an experienced family law attorney review your case. Call our office today for a free consultation! 859-636-6803.
Are you also concerned about your child’s other parent? CLICK HERE to read our post about requesting the Family Court to order they submit to a drug test.