What are legal custody and residential custody in Kentucky?

As Kentucky readers of this blog may already know, we recently discussed parenting plans during the holidays post-divorce and we covered what factors may be considered when determining the "best interests of the child." Today we are going to take a step back and look at the big picture. Specifically, we are going to cover: what is child custody?

In general, child custody really refers to two things: legal custody and residential custody. In Kentucky, legal custody is the parent's right to make important decisions about his or her child's life, such as decisions involving the child's education, health care and religion. In many cases, both parents are awarded joint legal custody. However, an order of sole legal custody may be made if the other parent abuses drugs or alcohol or is missing.

Residential custody, on the other hand, consists of where the child will reside and with whom. There are numerous factors that may be considered when determining residential custody, such as the child's age, the child's gender, each party's health, the parents' and child's wishes, their interpersonal relationships and what impact any changes to the child's home life, education or community will have on the child.

Whether Kentucky parents are going through a divorce or whether they were never married, one thing is for certain: child custody decisions will need to be made. It is important to have a good understanding of the difference between legal custody and residential custody in Kentucky. Parents who need further information that this post cannot provide about how the state's child custody laws pertain to their unique circumstances may benefit from reaching out to a Kentucky divorce attorney for guidance.