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Does your child’s preference matter when it comes to custody?

| Jan 12, 2021 | Firm News

When it comes to custody decisions, most states require courts to consider the child’s best interests. Courts will look at a variety of factors when making a decision, including the child’s relationship with each parent and, depending on age and maturity, the child’s preference. However, Kentucky law deviates from this norm.

Kentucky became the first state to create a presumption that a child’s best interests are almost always served by granting joint custody. It’s up to one parent to rebut this presumption if they are seeking full custody.

Does a child have any say at all?

Courts will start a custody analysis with the belief that parents should share custody. It’s up to one parent to show why joint custody might be a bad idea. One way a parent may do so is by making their child’s preferences known to the court. However, Kentucky’s new custody law adds another wrinkle that wasn’t present under the old law.

Under the standard “best interests of the child” analysis, courts could consider the child’s wishes. The court may still do so under the new law. However, the law also requires the court to consider any undue influence a parent may have on their child’s wishes. If the court finds evidence of improper influence, it may reject the child’s preferences altogether.

An uphill battle for some custody cases

There’s ample evidence that most children benefit from having a relationship with both of their parents. Kentucky has decided to enshrine this belief in its laws. While the intention behind the law may be worthy, there are situations where a child would be ill-served to be around both parents. This could make the road more difficult for parents who are looking for sole custody. You should discuss your situation with a skilled legal professional who understands how to protect both you and your child’s interests.