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Know the Laws: Kentucky

UPDATED November 26, 2012

State Custody Information

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This page includes information about custody that is specific to this state. There is also a page for general information that you may find helpful.

back to topHow will a judge make a decision about custody?

A judge will make a decision about custody based on what s/he thinks is in your child’s best interest. The judge will look at any factor that s/he thinks is important to make this decision.

According to KY law, when determining what is in the best interest of the child, the judge will look at:

  • The wishes of the child’s parent(s) and any de facto custodian as to the child’s custody;
  • The child’s preference for who s/he wants to live with;
  • The interaction and relationship the child has with his/her parent(s), siblings, and any other person that might significantly affect the child’s best interest;
  • The child’s adjustment to his/her home, school and community;
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
  • Information, records and evidence of domestic violence;
  • The extent to which the child has been taken care of by any de facto custodian;
  • The intent of the parent(s) in placing the child with a de facto custodian; and
  • The reason(s) the child was placed under the care of a de facto custodian (i.e., if the parent seeking custody had to leave the child to find work, attend school, etc.)
  • Whether the parent now seeking custody was previously prevented from doing so as a result of domestic violence.*
“De facto custodian” means a person who has been the primary caregiver for, and financial supporter of, a child who has resided with the person for a period of six months or more if the child is under three years of age and for a period of one year or more if the child is three years of age or older (or has been placed by the Department for Community Based Services).**

Note: If you leave the family home as a result of physical harm or if you were seriously threatened with physical harm by the other parent, this is not supposed to be held against you. ***

* KRS § 403.270(2)
** KRS § 403.270(1)(a)
*** KRS § 403.270(4)

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back to topCan a parent who committed violence get custody or visitation?

Possibly. The court will evaluate how the domestic violence and abuse has affected the child and the child’s relationship to both parents. It is possible, however, that a parent who has committed violence will get custody or visitation.*

It is recommended that you seek legal advice from a lawyer to assist you in a custody case involving domestic violence issues. For information on how to find a lawyer, see our KY Finding a Lawyer page.

* KRS § 403.270 (3)

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back to topShould I start a court case to ask for supervised visits?

If you are not comfortable with the abuser being alone with your child, you might be thinking about asking the judge to order that visits with your child be supervised. If you are already in court because the abuser filed for visitation or custody, you may not have much to lose by asking that the visits be supervised if you can present a valid reason for your request (although this may depend on your situation).

However, if there is no current court case, please get legal advice BEFORE you start a court case to ask for supervised visits. We strongly recommend that you talk to an attorney who specializes in custody matters to find out what you would have to prove to get the visits supervised and how long supervised visits would last, based on the facts of your case.

In the majority of cases, supervised visits are only a temporary measure. Although the exact visitation order will vary by state, county, or judge, the judge might order a professional to observe the other parent on a certain amount of visits or the visits might be supervised by a relative for a certain amount of time -- and if there are no obvious problems, the visits may likely become unsupervised. Oftentimes, at the end of a case, the other parent ends up with more frequent and/ or longer visits than s/he had before you went into court or even some form of custody.

In some cases, to protect your child from immediate danger by the abuser, starting a case to ask for custody and supervised visits is appropriate. To find out what may be best in your situation, please go to KY Finding a Lawyer to seek out legal advice.

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back to topWhere can I find more information about custody in KY?

General Information About Custody and Visitation in Kentucky

How will the judge make a decision about custody?

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