Before parents can address the issues of custody and/or parenting time, there must be an action filed in Family or Circuit Court. This can be accomplished through the filing of a Petition for Custody, a Petition for Divorce or an action to establish paternity.
If the parents are married, custody is normally addressed in an action for dissolution of marriage, otherwise known as a divorce. Custody may also be addressed in an action for legal separation. Either the husband or wife may have their family law attorney bring these actions. Occasionally, parents remain married but have been separated for a long time. Custody disputes disputes between these parents usually lead them to petition the court to formally dissolve the marriage.
Unmarried parents can bring custody before a court by having a child custody attorney file a custody action or through a paternity and child support action. Custody actions are filed through circuit court system like any other lawsuit. Paternity/child support actions are often brought be the County Attorney's office and may be initially brought in District Court.
Unlike a divorce, where the only parties are the husband and wife, a custody action can involve anyone that has standing under Kentucky's child custody statutes. This may include, parents, grandparents, or any third party who has served in a custodial capacity and who meets certain statutory guidelines.
Third parties may establish a right to request custodial rights if they have served in a primary caretaker role for a specific, continuous period of time. This period of time can be as little as six months for infants and very young children, but is one year for most children. Third parties that meet the applicable requirements have standing as “de facto” custodians.
Additionally, grandparents may request certain rights under Kentucky grandparents' rights statutes. Unless grandparents meet the requirements of de facto custodians, they cannot ask for custodial rights. If, however, they have had a significant relationship with the child, they may be entitled to certain visitation rights as a result of being grandparents.
To learn more about sole vs. joint custody in Kentucky, contact our child custody attorneys and request a free consultation.
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