Reputable Child Custody Lawyers with a Breadth of Experience
The legal processes for custody can be long and complicated. Custody matters are often the hardest part of divorce and separation, as custody means more than just where your child sleeps at night; custody determines who gets to make major life decisions about their education and health. At Bamberger & Brancato, PSC, we understand that you want to move past all the legalities as soon as possible and get to spending time with your children. Our attorneys have decades of experience helping families with all types of custody negotiations. Let our firm handle the legal side while you work on adapting to your family’s new situation.
What Are the Step Parent Adoption Laws in Kentucky?
In the state of Kentucky, anyone who is 18 and a resident of the state (or resided in the state for 12 months prior to filing for a step-parent adoption is eligible for asking permission to adopt a child in the Circuit Court (in the Family Court) in the county where the person lives.
What Are the Types of Custody Options?
In Kentucky, the courts may issue several different types of custody. Firstly, custody can be either physical (who has day-to-day physical care and control of the child) or legal (who can make important decisions on behalf of the child regarding educational, cultural, religious, and medical matters).
Custody may also be either temporary or permanent. Temporary custody, often issued during divorce proceedings will involve a contested hearing before a judge, after which the judge may decide to give permanent custody to one or both parties.
Lastly, custody can be either sole or joint. Sole custody means only one parent has custody. That is, sole legal custody means only the one parent has the decision-making authority. Joint custody, then, means both parents will share custody, where, for instance, both parents with joint legal custody may make decisions together on behalf of their child. In a joint physical custodial situation, the child will live with both parents but may spend more time with one than the other.
The Child’s Best Interests
According to Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 403.270 (2), the primary guideline for a Kentucky court to allocate custody is the child’s “best interests,” which includes:
- the child and parent's wishes for custody;
- the child's interaction and interrelationship with parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests;
- the child's adjustment to home, school, and community;
- each parent's motivation for requesting a contested custody hearing;
- the likelihood that a parent will allow the child frequent, meaningful, and continuing contact with the other parent;
- the mental and physical health of all individuals involved; and
- information, records, and evidence of domestic abuse.
Note that judges must begin all custody hearings with a presumption that joint custody is in the child's best interest. However, the presumption may be challenged if either parent can present evidence that joint custody is not in the child's best interests as listed above. Be aware that this presumption does not apply in cases with a history of domestic violence (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 403.315.).
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Modifying an Existing Order
Understandably, a family’s needs and situations may change over time that could warrant an adjustment in the custody order. Or, if you feel you have suffered an unfavorable custody decision, you also have the right to seek a modification. Some examples of reasons to request modification of an existing custody order are:
- active duty deployment of a parent;
- the child is in danger or is neglected while in the care of the other parent;
- there has been a change in the child’s mental or physical health;
- there has been a change in the child’s education or living location.
Keep in mind that the court favors stability, so Kentucky law requires parents to wait at least 2 years after the initial order before requesting a modification. However, if the petitioning parent can prove that the child's current environment endangers their physical, mental, moral, or emotional health, or the parent placed the child with a de facto custodian, they could potentially petition for modification before the 2 years pass.
Regardless, the key component of requesting a modification is showing that there has been a change of circumstances that make the current orders ineffective. To evaluate the request, the court will consider the best interest factors (as listed above) when deciding a proper custody change.
Achieving a custody modification is possible but can be challenging. Our legal team at Bamberger & Brancato, PSC can help you understand the criteria for custody modifications and request a hearing on your behalf. Our lawyers understand how these processes work and can help you make a strong case to the court. If your current custody order is no longer appropriate, or if you'd like to increase or decrease a parent's visitation, contact our firm to get started on your motion for modification today.
Let Bamberger & Brancato, PSC Protect Your and Your Child’s Rights
Child custody negotiations are one of the most important family law matters, as they address the parent-child relationship. As a result, it is important that your needs and interests as a parent are addressed as you discuss your child custody arrangement with your spouse and/or in court. Our attorneys at Bamberger & Brancato, PSC have decades of professional experience and a breadth of knowledge on spousal and parental rights. We will do our best to champion your interests in your custody case and even petition for a request for modification.
Contact Bamberger & Brancato, PSC for more information. Call (270) 926-5050 or reach out to us online.
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