FRANKFORT Matt Hale believes the most popular law to be passed in Kentucky this year might be the one regarding shared parenting.
The law creates a presumption that joint custody and equally shared parenting time is in the best interest of the child. Hale, Kentucky chairman of the National Parents Organization, said it also gives 11 factors that would negate the presumption including a parent’s drug addiction or history of domestic violence.
It was signed by Gov. Matt Bevin on April 26 and took affect on July 14.
“The law has been amazingly well received,” said Hale.
A recent poll by Public Policy Polling shows that about six to one Kentuckians who know about the law support it, with 84 percent saying they agree a child would benefit from having equal time with both fit parents following a divorce. Seventy percent also believe that family courts are more likely to give fathers less than equal parental rights.
Last year Kentucky passed a law creating a presumption of shared parenting during temporary custody orders.
“That was so well received that they went ahead and passed House Bill 528 this year, which you know, made it for permanent orders too,” said Hale, noting the court can still modify the orders.
Hale said the shared parenting law was also well liked among Kentucky lawmakers, with the House passing it with an 81-2 vote and the Senate voting unanimously.
Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, said she believes judges still have enough flexibility to make the best interest of the child paramount with the law. She added she feels it’s important that a child has a relationship with both parents and that the parents deserve to be viewed equally in the eyes of the law.
“I think overall it’s gonna be a positive things if used as intended ... I’ve represented fathers and mothers both in my law practice in 30 years and certainly have had great success stories with shared parenting,” she said.
Webb said the law would be a transition, noting she has heard mixed reviews about it as a policy maker. Like anything, she said it would take time to establish, pointing out the law will be an evolutionary process that can be tweaked in the future if needed.
As a possible con of the law, Webb said there is a potential for disruption of continuity for a child.
“Certain children may not thrive as well under that scenario, and like I said, that’s where it’s important to just have a presumption where you can overcome that presumption in a case and still secure the best interest of the child ... I think our judges do that and as practitioners we’ll have to adapt a little too on the legal side,” she said.
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