Custody and Parenting Time in Kentucky

Shane C. Sidebottom
November 4, 2020

Many parents often use the terms custody and parenting time interchangeably when they discuss their children. However, in Kentucky, these two terms have distinct legal meaning.


Custody is a parent’s retention of the ability to make decisions on a child’s life. Courts have generally recognized two dimensions of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions about a child's life, such as schooling, religion, medical decisions, etc. Physical custody is the child's physical responsibility, such as, where the child lives, and other routine daily decisions. Custody can be sole or joint. Sole custody is when one parent has custody and is permitted to make decisions surrounding the child's life unilaterally. If one parent has sole custody of a child, the noncustodial parent is typically entitled parenting time with the child. Joint custody exists when both parents must make critical decisions about the child together.


Under Kentucky law, motions for modification of a custody decree may only be filed two years after the last custody order, unless there is imminent danger, or the child has been placed with a de facto custodian. Modification of a parenting time schedule may be modified whenever it is in the best interest of the child.


Parenting time, sometimes referred to as visitation, is what time allocation a parent can spend with the child. This time is set aside by a court for parents to still care for and interact with their children. A court generally sets out parenting plan if one is not agreed to by the Parents. Kentucky law as of July 1, 2018, requires the Judge to consider equal parenting time so long as the parent’s schedules allow it and it is in the best interest of the child or children.

If you have questions about child custody or parenting time plans, please contact Ziegler & Schneider today at (859) 426-1300.

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ZIEGLER & SCHNEIDER P.S.C.
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P.O. Box 175710
Covington, KY 41017-5710

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