When seeking a specific custody outcome for your child, it is important to understand how judges decide these cases. Your child’s best interests will always be the court’s priority, regardless of the custody schedule that you and the other parent might want. If you need assistance with a custody dispute, contact a Florence child custody lawyer. Our firm’s capable family attorneys could work closely with you and provide the resources you need to resolve your case favorably.

Are There Different Types of Custody?

Parents often view custody as a concept that encompasses all aspects of their child’s care. However, there are two distinct types of custody, and it is essential to understand the difference when facing a custody dispute.

Legal custody refers to a parent’s authority to make major decisions affecting their child. Such decisions could include healthcare, religious training, discipline, and educational choices. When parents have joint legal custody, they must make these decisions together. If they cannot, a judge could grant one parent sole legal custody and permit them to have the final say.

Physical custody is where a child resides. In shared physical custody arrangements, the child lives with both parents more or less equally. If the child resides mostly with one parent, that parent has sole or primary physical custody.

How a judge determines custody is based largely on whether the parents can remain civil with one another and effectively communicate about the development of their child. A child custody attorney in Florence could explain the differences between legal and physical custody and what the court considers for each.

Is Either Parent Favored in Florence Custody Disputes?

Under state law, judges must determine custody based only on a child’s best interests, not the parent’s gender. Whether it is a mother or father petitioning for custody, the child’s needs always come first.

In custody disputes, judges follow the principle that children thrive in the care of both parents. Accordingly, as long as it is best for the child, a judge will generally award equal parenting time. However, there are some circumstances when shared custody is not appropriate, and a child custody lawyer in Florence could help determine how a parent should proceed in those circumstances.

Determining the Best Interests for a Child

When evaluating which parent can provide their child with the most stable, nurturing environment, judges consider many factors. Under Kentucky Revised Statues § 403.270, some of these include:

  • Each parent’s preferred custody schedule
  • The child’s relationship with their siblings and the parents
  • The physical and mental health of the child and both parents
  • Whether there is a history of domestic violence

A court may also assess a child’s preference for custody, although there is no specific age at which a child’s wishes will automatically determine the custody outcome. The overriding factor in any custody dispute must be what most benefits the child. A parent engaged in custody litigation may benefit from discussing these “best interest” factors with a legal professional.

A Change in Circumstances After a Custody Order

Under state law, custody can always be modified. However, if a parent seeks a custody modification within two years of the initial custody order, they must prove that the child’s physical, mental, or emotional well-being is in jeopardy under the existing custody schedule. After the two-year period expires, a judge can modify custody if they determine it is in a child’s best interest to do so.

Like an initial custody determination, a judge must consider certain statutory factors when deciding to modify custody. The factors include whether a parent or the child has experienced a substantial change in circumstances, and whether the benefits of a modification would offset any disruption to the child. As a Florence child custody attorney could explain, the evidentiary burden on a parent seeking modification is high, since courts do not want to make repeated or unnecessary adjustments to a child’s schedule.

Get Help Understanding Local Laws from a Florence Child Custody Attorney

One of the most challenging aspects of family law is child custody. Whether you and your child’s other parent are married or not, custody must be determined if you decide to divorce or separate. Although custody disputes often end up in court, they do not have to. A Florence child custody lawyer could help you resolve your case in a way that benefits you and your children. Place a call today.

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