Understanding what child custody means in Kentucky can be difficult. Custody in Kentucky is used to mean a variety of things in Kentucky Courts, and can refer several different types of “custody.”
Physical custody in Kentucky only means that parent has the physical care and control of the child on a daily basis. This would include daily, hands-on care, like feeding and bath of the child. And can include the responsibility of making sure the child attends school, arrives on time and prepared.
Legal custody in Kentucky refers to the right to make important decisions on behalf of a child. This includes issues like education, culture, religion and health.
Child custody can be temporary or permanent in Kentucky. Generally early in a proceeding, temporary custody can be awarded to one parent during a paternity or divorce proceedings. This is done with the understanding that eventually there will be a hearing (similar to a trial) to determine whether permanent custody should be awarded to one or both of the parents.
Custody in Kentucky can be either sole or joint. This distinction generally only affects legal custody. With joint legal custody, both parents are involved in making decisions together on behalf of the child.
When parents are awarded joint legal custody, often one parent is designated as the “primary residential parent” or “primary residential custodian.” This designation does not affect either parent’s ability to be involved in the decision making for the child. This is just a way of saying that the parents have equal decision-making rights, but the child spends more time at one home than the other. This designation is not required under Kentucky law.
Alternatively, with sole legal custody, only one parent has the right to make medical, educational, religious, cultural, and other important decisions for the child. That parent does not have to consult the other parent when making those decisions.