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New law changes custody default in divorce proceedings

One of the most difficult things for children in divorce is determining which parent they will live with. In Kentucky, when parents separate before a divorce, a new law will change the default custody agreement to one of joint custody. According to WFPL, with this change, Kentucky becomes the first state to pass this matter into law, although there is a fair amount of both support and criticism for the changes.

With the new law, the judge deciding the case starts with joint legal custody before considering factors such as the relationship with the parent and the proximity of their current home to their school. Cases where a partner has filed a domestic violence protective order at any time during the relationship are the exception to this new rule.

Critics of the bill are concerned that custody could be given to an abusive parent or partner in cases where there was no protective order granted or filed before the custody hearing. There is also concern that if one spouse committed a violent act against someone outside the household, he or she could still be given joint custody before a judge can rule otherwise.

Supporters of the new law argue that children are given the chance to have more meaningful relationships with both parents when joint custody is assumed. Previously, family courts were giving custody and most parenting time to one parent, at times excluding a parent who was fit to be intricately involved in a child's life. Organizations in support of the bill include The National Parents Organization, a group that is focused on advocating for fathers' rights. 

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