Whitesburg KY

New law affects visitation rights in Kentucky

A new law passed this year by the Kentucky General Assembly and signed by the governor will allow separated parents and “de facto custodians,” to have equal parenting time with their children, if the parents agree to a temporary custody arrangement.

The new law takes effect June 29. Until the passage of the equal parenting law, Kentucky courts generally gave one parent the lion’s share of time with the kids. In most cases, fathers got much less time with their children than mothers, said Buddy Sexton, a minister and former machine shop operator from Sergent, who with his wife Teresa and others formed Equal Parenting Rights in Kentucky.

Temporary custody arrangements are usually the precursor to divorce. The law is aimed at increasing the likelihood that parents will accept more equitable custody arrangements after divorce, if they have already had equal rights during the process.

Buddy Sexton said his group didn’t get everything they wanted in the law, but “at least it’s a step in the right direction on parenting rights.”

He said before passage of the law, fathers usually got to see their children every other weekend and Tuesday evenings. The new law requires parents to share custody equally, as long as there are no abuse or neglect issues, Sexton said.

He said his group is planning to continue pushing for reforms in Kentucky’s custody laws, namely expanding custodial and visitation rights for grandparents.

Sexton said his family is involved in an ongoing custody case involving their grandson, but that they have no standing under Kentucky law because grandparents have no rights to custody or visitation here.

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