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Kentucky changed its family code laws in order to provide a divorcing couple with joint legal custody of their children by default. Prior to the 2018 changes, the Bluegrass State awarded sole custody to one parent, usually the mother, and the child’s father had limited visitation rights. Studies, however, proved that having a relationship with both parents is necessary for children to develop properly. Research published by the Institute for Family Studies revealed that children experienced better outcomes in their well-being when sharing their lives with both parents.

When a mother and a father both shared in their child’s growth, researchers found kids fared better in their emotional health, educational achievements and behavior. The findings showed that children who had relationships with both of their parents had less anxiety, depression and stress. Shared custody also fosters better communication and regular interaction between parents, children and grandparents.

According to research published by the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, men showed higher income earnings when they were actively involved in their children’s lives. Their work efforts increased by interacting with their kids as a father instead of a stranger with visitation rights. The fathers themselves also demonstrated less emotional, mental, and physical health issues.

Some individuals, however, may be wary of an ex-spouse sharing legal custody of the children. In some cases, there might be legitimate concerns that a parent’s actions might turn out to be harmful to the kids. Under these circumstances, an exception could be made to reduce or eliminate joint-custody arrangements when a parent has demonstrated a pattern of violence or abusive behavior. The court can review custody issues of this nature during the divorce proceedings.