Lisa L. Johnson, Attorney at Law
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What makes Kentucky's new child custody law different?

In April 2018, the governor of Kentucky signed a new child custody bill into law. This piece of legislation broke new ground in the United States. It made Kentucky the first state to create a legal presumption of joint custody in divorce proceedings, meaning that if you and your spouse divorce, you can now expect to receive joint custody by default.

However, according to WKU public radio, the new law also includes language stating that the presumption that it is in the child's best interest for parents to share custody is rebuttable by a preponderance of evidence in a particular situation. Additionally, the law prevents a judge from granting joint custody if one of the parents has filed a protective order against the other for domestic violence within the last three years. 

Over 25 states considered legislation to write legal presumption language into their laws last year. Thus far, however, Kentucky is the only one to have passed the legislation. Only two lawmakers in the state legislature opposed the final version of the measure. 

Supporters and critics of the measure both agree that it makes it harder for a judge to grant one parent more time with the children than the other, but while the latter see this as a negative, the former see it as a positive. Critics have expressed concerns that the law contains loopholes that could allow an abusive parent to gain joint custody. Supporters, on the other hand, say that it corrects an injustice to children and noncustodial parents built into the former law that often deprived both of a meaningful relationship with one another by relegating the noncustodial parent to the status of a mere visitor. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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