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Kentucky statute RD-14 regarding child custody recognizes two forms: legal and physical custody. The general consensus is that both parents should have joint legal custody, which ensures that each parent has the right and responsibility of making major decisions regarding the child (KRS 403.270, KRS 403.340). Physical custody, however, is related to where the child shall live. Kentucky has two different forms of physical custody, which are either sole physical custody or joint physical custody. Typically, the court awards the latter, provided both parents agree that it is in the best interest of the child (KRS 403.250).
In addition to decision-making rights, each parent is also granted visitation rights. These are outlined under KRS 403.320, and they entitle the non-custodial parent to visit with the child. This specific section of the law also specifies different forms of visitation, including reasonable and reasonable extended visitation. Additionally, the law outlines what kinds of sanctions apply should the parent refuse or not follow the visits.
Ensuring that children are provided for financially is paramount in the state of Kentucky. For this reason, the court may order one of the parents to give the other financial support, as per KRS 403.211. Aside from this, both parents share responsibility to provide for the medical, dental, and other health needs of the child unless there is a court order that prohibits it (KRS 403.213). This includes health insurance costs, which are stated under KRS 405.020.
Additionally, co-parents must consider certain expenses which come up related to co-parenting. Such expenses involve transportation and communication costs. Kenneth statute provides that should transportation be necessary so that the child may visit the other parent, the total cost should be divided among the two parents (KRS 403.280). Also, the costs of communication and activities which foster the relationship between parent and child should also be shared by both parents (KRS 403.280).
In Kentucky, decision-making is one of the most important components of co-parenting. When joint legal custody is arranged, each parent still retains full parental rights and responsibilities, meaning decisions must be reached between the two (KRS 403.270). If agreement is impossible, the court is legally ready to step in and make the appropriate decisions to ensure the child’s well-being is preserved. Furthermore, the court can make orders which foster and promote the relationship between each parent and the child(ren).
To help parents manage decision-making, Kentucky outlined the concept of a parenting plan in KRS 403.340. Parenting plans mainly clarify the rights, obligations and relationships regarding the child. These encompass the primary residence of the child and which activities the parent/s will partake in with the child. Parenting plans also consider communication and transportation, as well as related expenses. Even though a parenting plan is not required, it is recommended that co-parents sign one to find a middle ground.
When the co-parents are unable to reach an agreeable decision, Kentucky offers the alternative of mediation rather than having to go to court (KRS 403.310). Mediation is a great way to allow parents to independently work out their problems, while also reducing the expense of litigation. Additionally, the mediator cannot actually enforce a decision, but instead facilitates the conversation to allow each parent to jointly come up with a solution.
In Kentucky, parents are required to attend at least one mediation session before the court may make a final ruling on the dispute. While the court does not require a settlement, it is always preferable for both parents to reach an agreement through mediation rather than through lengthy litigation.
Divorce can be particularly hard on parents, especially taking into consideration all the different legal aspects related to co-parenting. Fortunately, the state of Kentucky strives to ensure that parents are given the support and tools to adequately take care of their children. In consequence, it is important that both parents are aware of their rights and obligations when it comes to child custody, support, rights, expenses, and decisions. Establishing a parenting plan and mediation can also help reach decisions without involving a court.
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Warning: This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.