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Historically speaking, the Kentucky family court system was quick to name one parent as the “primary” custodian of a child. The courts would then grant that parent a large majority of parenting time and the other parent would essentially play the role of “visitor” in the child’s life. This type of system not only created a win/lose situation for the parents but also, it served as a detriment to the child as well.

According to Courier Journal, Kentucky’s win/lose custody system all changed when Gov. signed House Bill 528 into law in summer of 2018. The law is the first of its kind not just in the state but in the entire nation, as it gives a child of divorce the presumption of shared physical and legal custody. What this means is that if both parents are fit caregivers, the courts will award equal time to both. 

The Courier Journal goes on to tout the benefits of this new law, explaining that shared parenting is what is best for the kids. The journal cites findings from several studies, one of which is that kids who grow up with access to both parents are less likely to abuse drugs and more likely to participate in sports and other activities that prove to have a positive impact on children’s lives.

Children will not be the only ones to benefit from the new law. Parents come out as winners as well, as one parent will no longer have to balance his or her day job with the responsibility of raising a child on his or her own. The other parent gets more time with the child, which is great both for his or her emotional well-being as well as his or her relationship with the child.

HB 528 passed the Kentucky House by a vote of 81-2. It passed the Kentucky Senate unanimously.

According to LegiScan, HB 528 amends KRS 403.270 to create a presupposition that equal shared parenting time and joint custody is what is best for the child. It also amends the existing law to allow parents who do not currently have visitation rights or fair parenting time to petition for reasonable visitation rights.