Legal Information: Kentucky

Custody

Updated: 
September 29, 2021

What factors will a judge look at when deciding custody?

When deciding the child’s best interests, the judge will look at all relevant factors, including:

  • the wishes of the child’s parents and any de facto custodian as to the child’s custody – see Who can file for custody? for definition of “de facto custodian”;
  • the child’s preference for who s/he wants to have custody - however, the judge will also consider any influence that a parent or de facto custodian may have over the child’s wishes;
  • the interaction and relationship the child has with his/her parents, siblings, and any other person that might significantly affect the child’s best interest;
  • the motivation of the adults participating in the custody proceeding;
  • the child’s adjustment and continuing closeness (proximity) to his/her home, school and community;
  • the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
  • a determination by the judge that domestic violence and abuse have been committed by one of the parties against the other party or against a child of the parties. The judge would then consider:
    • the extent to which the domestic violence and abuse have affected the child;
    • the extent to which the domestic violence and abuse have affected the child’s relationship to each party;
    • any efforts made towards completing a domestic violence program, treatment, or counseling;
  • the extent to which the child has been cared for, nurtured, and financially supported by any de facto custodian;
  • the intent of the parent(s) in placing the child with a de facto custodian;
  • 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; and
  • the likelihood that a party will allow the child to have frequent, meaningful, and continuing contact with the other parent or de facto custodian. However, the judge will not consider this if the judge has determined that:
    • the other parent or de facto custodian committed domestic violence and abuse against the party or a child; and
    • a continuing relationship with the other parent will endanger the health or safety of either the party or the child.1

Note: If you leave the family home as a result of physical harm by the other parent or if you were seriously threatened with physical harm by the other parent, this is not supposed to be held against you.2

1 KRS § 403.270(2)
2 KRS § 403.270(3)

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