Can a parent who committed violence get custody or visitation?
Under Kentucky law, the judge is generally supposed to assume that joint custody and equally shared parenting time is in the best interest of the child unless a party convinces the judge otherwise. However, the judge will not assume that custody and equally shared parenting time is in the best interest of the child if a domestic violence order is being issued or was issued against a party by the other party or on behalf of the child at issue in the custody hearing.
In addition, regardless of whether there is a domestic violence order or not, the judge must consider any finding (determination) by the judge that domestic violence and abuse have been committed by the other parent against you or against a child of the parties. The judge would look at the extent to which the domestic violence and abuse have affected the child and the child's relationship to each party. However, the judge will also give consideration to efforts made by a party towards the completion of any domestic violence treatment, counseling, or program.1
The law says that a parent who is not granted custody is entitled to reasonable visitation rights unless the judge finds (after a hearing) that visitation would seriously endanger the child's physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.2 If the judge determines that there was domestic violence but the judge believes there should still be visitation, s/he should make a visitation arrangement which would not seriously endanger the physical, mental, or emotional health of the child or of the abused parent.3
Note: If either you or the other parent requests it, the judge is supposed to issue an order that specifically lays out how often visitation should be, how long the visits are, when it should take place, the conditions for the visits, and a method of scheduling visitation. The order should also reflect the development and age of the child.2
Often it is best to have a lawyer represent you in a custody case, especially one involving domestic violence issues. For legal organizations, see our KY Finding a Lawyer page.
1 KRS §§ 403.270(3); 403.315
2 KRS § 403.320(1)
3 KRS § 403.320(2)