Eddins • Domine is a boutique law firm providing personal service and attention throughout the entire course of your representation. Our attorneys focus on family law, estate planning, and business and corporate law, and also excel in providing practical advice and representation in Kentuckiana real estate and civil litigation matters.
Custody and Parenting Time
Many of our prospective clients come into our office with confusion about custody and parenting time. People often misunderstand the difference between the two. Here are some of our top questions:
Custody of the child involves which party will make healthcare, school-related, religious, and other major decisions for the child. Parents will either have joint-custody, and be making these major decision together, or one person will have sole custody and make those decisions alone. Custody has no relation to the amount of time each parent will spend with the child.
Parenting time involves how often each party has the child in his or her care. For example, some families have one parent that has the child primarily and the other parent exercises parenting time one day each week and every other weekend, while other parents exercise a fifty-fifty parenting schedule. A parenting schedule really can be modified to fit your family. What works for your child, may not work for someone else’s child. It is important to think about what type of schedule will most benefit your children and remember that you can be creative when you reach an agreement on parenting time.
The parenting schedule will determine how much time the child will spend with each parent and when the transition between each parent will occur. Most likely, you will also have a holiday schedule that will determine which parent spends each holiday with the child/children.
In the majority of cases and circumstances, parents will share joint custody of their child/children. This means that parents make decisions together, or jointly, regarding the education, medical, and religious concerns of their child/children.
However, there are cases when joint custody is not appropriate, and sole custody to one parent is best. If one parent withholds the child/children from the other parent and has shown that he/she is not willing to cooperate or communicate with the other parent, sole custody may be appropriate. Sole custody may be appropriate if one parent has issues with drugs, violence, or poor decision-making. If you are awarded sole custody, it means that you can make long-term decisions regarding the child/children without the input of the other parent. This does not mean that the other parent cannot see the child/children. In most sole custody cases, the judge will award parenting time to the non-custodial parent. Sometimes, it is appropriate for the parenting time to be supervised.
If you and your child’s other parent can agree on custody and a parenting schedule, your attorney will help you put your agreement into a settlement agreement to be filed with the Court. However, if you cannot agree, you will have a hearing in front of a judge and have the opportunity to present your case, after which, the judge will issue a ruling deciding the issues. Sometimes it is necessary to have a Guardian Ad Litem, or Friend of Court, appointed for your child/children. Also, the judge will sometimes involve a psychologist to conduct a custody evaluation to help guide the judge’s decision on custody. Under Kentucky statute, the Court uses the “best interest of the child” standard, which requires the Court to consider the following:
- The wishes of the child’s parent or parents, and any de facto custodian, as to his custody;
- The wishes of the child as to his custodian;
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his parent or parents, his siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
- The child’s adjustment to his home, school, and community;
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
- Information, records, and evidence of domestic violence as defined in KRS 403.720;
- The extent to which the child has been cared for, nurtured, and supported by any de facto custodian;
- The intent of the parent or parents in placing the child with a de facto custodian; and
- The circumstances under which the child was placed or allowed to remain in the custody of a de facto custodian, including whether the parent now seeking custody was previously prevented from doing so as a result of domestic violence as defined in KRS 403.720 and whether the child was placed with a de facto custodian to allow the parent now seeking custody to seek employment, work, or to attend school.