Felony & Misdemeanor Charges in KentuckyNovember 10, 2023
What Does “Taking the 5th” Really Mean?January 10, 2024
Updated Defacto Custodian Standards
The Supreme Court of Kentucky recently ruled on defacto custodian law, clarifying the rule regarding timeframes for satisfying the care requirement to become a defacto custodian.
Meinders v Middleton, 572 S.W.3d 52, ruled that the period of time a person must act as the child’s primary caregiver and financial supporter must be continuous.
New Case Law For Defacto Custodianship In Kentucky
The Supreme Court of Kentucky ruling in Meinders v Middleton, overruled prior caselaw that was inconsistent regarding whether the timeframe for defacto custodianship could be compounded or if it had to be continuous. The court looked at the intent of the legislation and the wording used in the statute to determine that an aggregate of different time periods was NOT the intention and that a person seeking defacto custodianship of a minor child must satisfy the time requirement in a single continuous time period.
Prior case law allowed persons in some situations to combine several blocks of time where they were the primary caregiver and provider of financial support to meet the required timeframes. This ruling clearly states that is not an option.
Impact of New Law On Defacto Custodianship In Kentucky
This 2019 Supreme Court of Kentucky ruling makes it more difficult for individuals to satisfy the already rigorous requirements to be found a defacto custodian in Kentucky. However, if an individual is able to satisfy these requirements, they are given the same standing in the court system as if they were biological parents. They would have the same rights to joint custody and equal timesharing with the minor child as parents. This is an extremely strong position to be in regarding access and care for a minor child.
The statute controlling defacto custodians is KRS 403.270, which states:
(1) (a) As used in this chapter and KRS 405.020, unless the context requires otherwise, “de facto custodian” means a person who has been shown by clear and convincing evidence to have been the primary caregiver for, and financial supporter of, a child who within the last two (2) years has resided with the person for an aggregate period of six (6) months or more if the child is under three (3) years of age and for an aggregate period of one (1) year or more if the child is three (3) years of age or older or has been placed by the Department for Community Based Services. Any period of time after a legal proceeding has been commenced by a parent seeking to regain custody of the child shall not be included in determining whether the child has resided with the person for the required minimum period.