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KY law first of its kind with joint custody default

KY law first of its kind with joint custody default (WKRC)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKRC) - Joint custody in Kentucky now means a presumption of equal time with the children.

A new law says joint custody is now the default when parents split up. Parents will also have 50-50 parenting time.

Erin Wilkins practices family law on both sides of the river.

“This is the first law of its kind in the country and what I will say is that in this area, in the Northern Kentucky area, those of us who practice in especially Boone, Campbell, and Kenton counties this is what's been going on for years with most of the judges,” Wilkins said.

Supporters of the new law say it allows for more stable upbringing of children. Attorneys who specialize in family law point out that judges have a lot of leeway and that although both parents will start on an even playing field, there are factors that can change a judge's ruling.

“Certainly if there's any domestic violence involved, that would play a big role and more than likely each parent's prior participation in the child's life will play a big role," said Family Attorney Mark Ogle.

In Wilkins’s experience, laws are applied differently in depending on the jurisdiction.

“I feel like dads have kind of a higher mountain to climb in Ohio, although that's not always the case anymore, but some states kind of presume this one parent is this residential custodian and the other parent is kind of this weekend parent.”

Some critics of the law have said it makes it much harder for a judge to give one parent more time with children than the other.

Ogle points out that while this law attempts to treat parents equally, lawmakers in Frankfort haven't updated the child support rule in years and he's hoping they'll take another look at updating the child support law now that the equal parenting law is in effect.

“The statute in 1987 was based on the cost of living that occurred during that time, plus the statute is based upon a parenting schedule which anticipates one parent primarily raising the child,” Ogle said.

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