Child Custody Attorneys in Louisville
Disputes regarding child custody too often turn into battles. Parents allow the fear of becoming a weekend mom or dad interfere with doing what is best for their child. In order to act in your child’s best interest, it is important to understand how Kentucky child custody law operates. The issues surrounding custody and parenting schedules is an evolving area. The Courts have began moving away from the old notions of mom being the primary caretaker of the children and dad being a weekend dad. The modern parenting schedules are being tailored to your children’s unique needs.
Definitions: What Does it all Mean?
Child custody may refer to joint or sole custody or a split arrangement. When parents have joint custody of their child, they both make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, education, and general well-being. Under joint custody, both parents share this legal custody, although actual physical custody may either be shared or exclusive to one parent. Joint custody requires the utmost cooperation of both parents.
A split custody arrangement is where the parents share legal and residential responsibilities for one or more children. Split custody arrangements have their own guidelines for child support.
Sole custody, conversely, grants both legal and physical custody of the child to only one parent.
The court determines custody based on what is in the child’s best interests. In making its decision, the court considers the following factors:
- The wishes and desires of the parents
- What the child wants
- The child’s relationship and interaction with the parents, siblings, and any other persons or family members
- The mental and physical health of all parties involved
- The child’s adjustment to school, home, and community
- Whether there is any indication of domestic violence
While it is usually parents who are disputing custody of their children, grandparents and others may also seek and be awarded custody based on the criteria above. In addition, Kentucky law also recognizes “de facto custodians”, defined as primary caregivers and financial supporters of a child who have lived with the child for at least 6 months if the child is under three years of age, or for a minimum of 1 year if the child is three years of age or older.
The court has sole discretion in determining the custody of a child, so it is very important to present a solid, persuasive case to the judge. Additionally, while there are many agreements parents and couples may make, such as pre-nuptial agreements, those pertaining to the custody of children are not binding on a court.
Modifying a Custody Decree
Within the first two years of a court ruling on a child matter, the ruling cannot be modified. There is often an exception to every rule, however, and in this case there are two: If the child is endangered in their current environment; or if the appointed custodian has placed the child with a de facto custodian.
In deciding whether a modification is appropriate, the court considers what is in the best interest of the child in addition to:
- Whether the custodial parent agrees to a modification
- The assimilation of the child into the family of the party seeking the modification
- If the child is endangered mentally, emotionally, or physically
- Any harm associated with changing the child’s environment, as well as the benefits
Courts do not generally like to be told they made a wrong decision, and child modifications can be tricky – it is in your best interest to have the representation of an experienced child custody attorney handle the case on your behalf.
A skilled attorney can help you organize and present your child custody case to the court. There is simply too much at stake to risk not having proper legal representation in your custody proceedings. To find out how the family law attorneys at John H. Ruby & Associates can fight for you, contact us today.