This April, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed a law passed earlier this year by state legislators that makes shared custody for divorced parents the norm. Under the law, which took effect last month, assuming that both parents are deemed to be fit, they will have the opportunity for equal time with their children and an equal role in making decisions that impact their children’s lives.
The law presumes “that joint custody and equally shared parenting time is in the best interest of the child….” It also requires family law judges “to consider the motivation of adults involved when determining the best interest of the child for custody orders…[and] to allow a parent not granted custody or shared parenting time to petition for reasonable visitation rights.”
Proponents of the law say it is long overdue. They hope that it will help remedy inequalities in the division of parental rights and responsibilities between parents. Although it wasn’t true in all cases, or maybe even most of them, many people believe that fathers are at a disadvantage in child custody cases.
In a recent survey on Kentuckians on the new law, 70 percent said that fathers tended to get fewer rights than mothers. Nearly 600 voters throughout the state were polled. Of those, 58 percent said they supported the law. Almost a third said they weren’t sure about it. Ten percent opposed it.
The head of Kentucky’s National Parents Organization says he thinks that people just don’t know enough about the law or the value of shared parenting. Interestingly, in the same survey, 83 percent said they believe that it was best for children to have both parents actively involved in their lives after divorce, assuming they are both fit for the job.
One family court judge says that he was following that principle long before the new law. He says, “You can’t be a parent every other weekend.”
The new law may help even the playing field in child custody matters for some parents — particularly fathers — who may have been at a disadvantage in some judges’ courtrooms. However, it’s still crucial to have a Kentucky family law attorney who will help you fight for your rights and for what’s in the best interests of your children.