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What is in the best interests of the child in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 22, 2022 | Family Law |

There is no doubt that a parent’s bond with their child is essential to their physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing. When parents in Kentucky end their marriage, even a strong connection to the kids cannot shield them from the negative effects of the split. It is important to realize that the children are also going through divorce.

Understanding the effects of a divorce proceeding on the family can help Hopkinsville parents to navigate such difficult issues as custody and child or spousal support. Protecting the children is essential at this time, as is finding out more about custody and visitation options that will support your parental rights and look out for your child’s best interests.

Kentucky custody laws

Although Kentucky courts do not favor one parent over the other when making custody decisions, joint custody is only possible if the judge decides that this will be in the best interests of the child. Where the parents can come to an agreement on their own, this will not be necessary.

Kentucky allows for both sole or joint custody that can be physical, which is involvement in the daily caregiving needs of the child, or legal, which is the oversight of important educational, religious and health decisions on behalf of the child.

A judge must look at the unique circumstances of each case and weigh custody decisions based on a standard of what is in the best interests of the child, including the:

  • parents’ primary caregiver’s wishes.
  • child’s wishes.
  • relationship of the child with each parent and other family members.
  • mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
  • intent of the parents participating in the custody proceeding.

In Kentucky, there is a special emphasis on the de facto custodian. This individual may or may not be a parent, but is clearly the primary caregiver and financial supporter, and has lived with the child for a substantial period in the child’s life. Once the court establishes the status of the de facto custodian, this individual has the same legal standing as a parent, which will factor into custody decisions.

The effects of divorce on children

Although the overall rate of divorce has gone down in recent years, many divorce statistics overlook the often devastating impact of divorce on the children. Although a little over a third of all marriages in this country end in divorce, half of all children will see their parents divorce.

Children aged seven to 14 are particularly vulnerable to the negative impact of divorce and can develop behavioral and emotional problems as a result. Academic performance dips in all ages groups, and the dropout rate for children of divorce is higher than average.

While divorce is difficult for everyone involved, parents who constantly fight but stay together also put their children at risk of emotional and psychological stress. Whether it is due to irreconcilable differences or evidence of domestic abuse, making the decision to end the marriage can be the outcome that best supports the needs and security of the children.