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Frequently asked questions about child custody and visitation

Q: How is child custody categorized in Kentucky?

When the court is deciding child custody, there are three main categories it must consider in its decision, the court must weigh:

Q: What's the difference between physical and legal custody?

A: Physical custody refers to who is in charge or the physical care of the child. It is the person's home where the child is spending time and which parent will be taking care of the child's day-to-day physical and emotional needs. Legal custody refers to the decisions that shape the child's value system as they grow and helps prepare them for the future. Legal custody includes medical decisions, educational choices and matters of religion and culture.

Q: How do the courts decide between temporary and permanent custody?

A: Temporary custody is usually awarded when there is a high likelihood that a specific situation will change, or there hasn't been sufficient time to fully evaluate the best interests of the child. While divorce proceedings are active, custody arrangements may be temporary. As the divorce becomes final, the temporary arrangement may be converted to a permanent custody arrangement, which will stay in place until the child is grown or there is a valid reason to for a modification.

Q: What factors are considered when Kentucky courts decide custody?

A: Best interests is the standard that Kentucky courts use to determine custody arrangements for children. This means they aim to put the child in a situation where they are cared for and influenced by their parents or others in a way that will have the best possible impact on their well-being. To determine this, they will consider the wishes of the child's parents, as well as:

  • the child's preference (depending on the child's age)
  • the dynamic of the existing relationships between parents, siblings or other household members
  • the mental and physical health of the child, potential caretakers and household members
  • any records or evidence of domestic abuse or substance abuse
  • the child's ties to home, school and community

Q: What is court awarded visitation, and when is it considered?

A: When one parent has sole custody, or if another person in a child's life, such as a grandparent believes they should have a strong role in the child's life, the court may award certain visitation arrangements to those without custody. Parents may set their own visitation schedule, which will allow a non-custodial parent to spend a reasonable time with the child, or the court may decide what should be considered reasonable.

If the court believes that one parent might potentially put the child in physical or emotional danger, they may limit the amount of time that parent can visit, or designate a person to supervise visits. In rare cases, a parent's right to visitation may be revoked completely.

Q: Can non-parents gain custody of a child?

A: Non-parents may ask for either visitation or custody rights of a child if they feel their role in the child's life is positive and significant, and if they have reason to believe their relationship with the child will be in jeopardy without such an order. Visitation is more commonly awarded. In order to gain actual custody away from a parent he or she must be shown to be unfit.

If you are going through a divorce or contemplating divorce and have questions about custody arrangements, contact Gibson Law Offices at 888-471-2808. Attorney Gibson is experienced in all types of family law matters and can help you move forward with your divorce proceeding.

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