No two Kentucky divorces are alike. The relationships that create families are as varied as the individuals involved. If a couple splits and no children are affected, resolving issues associated with property division and possible spousal support could be rather easy. Where children are involved, matters are more complicated. Where will the children live? Who will make major life decisions for the child? How much time will the child spend with each parent? Will grandparents play any role?

Every member of a family has certain rights and those experienced in protecting those rights know that any one of the questions posed above can lead to disputes. Finding the answers that work best for all takes concerted effort. Typically, the best way to start is to be sure everyone is on the same page understanding the differences in various terms related to child custody.

It is important to know that the overriding concern for the courts in Kentucky when reviewing child custody plans and deciding whether to approve them is whether the terms serve the best interests of the child. Many factors are examined, including the wishes of the parents, the wishes of the child, and the strength of the child’s bonds with each parent. Any history of violence or abuse will also influence the court in making a determination on what type of child custody to allow or order.

Differences in custody

There are two foundational types of custody to be aware of, legal custody and physical custody. If a parent has legal custody of a child, it means that parent has the right to make major life decisions for the child. Such things as health care, general and religious education and discipline are included under legal custody. Physical custody describes the schedule of time each parent spends with the child.

The terms of sole or joint custody further delineate this area of concern. If one parent receives sole custody, it is usually because the other parent is deemed unfit for some reason. Joint custody is more common, reflecting the belief that greater engagement by both parents better serves the interests of the child over time.

If, over time, circumstances change, it may be possible to alter the original plan. Either parent can ask for the change, but he or she must obtain permission from the court.