Many Kentucky parents make the mistake of listening to their friends or a family member as a means of gaining information about child custody guidelines. While discussing your situation with a trusted confidant isn’t necessarily a bad idea, if such conversations are your sole resource for information, you might wind up heading to court not understanding as much about child custody issues as you think you do.
For instance, has someone told you that the family courts in Kentucky automatically grant mothers physical or legal custody of their children over fathers? If so, you’re already at a disadvantage because that’s not true. Maybe you have a friend who believes the court always splits marital property 50/50 in divorce. This is also not true; in fact, this state utilizes equitable property division, which means the judge overseeing your case will determine a fair division of all marital property. More misinformation issues may affect your child custody proceedings.
This is the top priority
When you head to court to litigate custody issues, you cannot predict what the final ruling might be. However, you can be certain of one thing: children’s best interests are always a top priority in every custody case.
Of course, you and your ex might have vastly different opinions on how to interpret what is best for your kids in a particular set of circumstances. For instance, maybe your co-parent thinks it’s a good idea to relocate with your children and you believe it’s best if they stay in the home you shared so they can continue to attend the same school, keep the same friends and stick with their usual routines as much as possible. In such cases, the judge will determine what is best.
Additional factors of consideration
As a parent in a child custody case, the court values your opinion. However, it is not the only factor the judge will take into account when deciding who should have physical and legal custody of your children. The ages of your kids are also a determining factor. The judge may ask whether you or your ex was the primary caretaker of your children during marriage. The mental and physical health of parents is also a factor most judges will consider.
The court also pays close attention to each parent’s willingness to compromise and cooperate for the sake of the kids. If the judge overseeing your case thinks you or your ex is going to try to stand in the way of the other parent’s relationship with your children, he or she may not look favorably upon that parent’s desire to gain custody.
Living environment matters
It’s generally not enough to simply tell the court you have a place to live with your kids after divorce. Most judges want more details about planned living accommodations. In fact, if you have requested physical custody of your kids, you’ll need to prove that you are able to provide a safe and stable living environment and are able to fulfill your children’s physical, emotional and medical needs.
This raises another important point: If you believe your ex has a substance abuse problem or that his or her presence somehow places your children at risk, the court would definitely be concerned about such information. Again, you’d need to do more than report such issues. You’d also have to be prepared to provide evidence to the court to support your accusation.
Building a strong support network is key
Child custody proceedings can be complex. You may feel emotionally distraught at times while trying to achieve an outcome that protects your parental rights and serves your children’s best interests. The good news is that you don’t have to handle such matters on your own. In fact, the stronger a support network you build from the start, the better off you’ll be in court.