Governor Matt Bevin recently signed a family court reform bill into law, bringing Kentucky a step closer to making shared parenting in instances of divorce the norm in the state.

House Bill 492 received unanimous support in both the House (voted 97-0) and Senate (38-0) on April 10.

The new law creates a temporary joint custody and equal parenting time presumption if each parent files an affidavit requesting his or her portion. The presumption does not apply if it creates a likelihood of abuse or neglect.

It amends KRS 403.280, allowing a court to adopt a prior parental temporary custody agreement as the court’s temporary custody order. However, the agreement must be mutually agreed upon while adequately providing for the child’s welfare.

Shared parenting allows parents to form joint decisions including medical, religious, educational and other activities. It also allows them to equally split their time caring for the child or children.

The new law is also supported by an overwhelming amount of research showing it is in a child’s best interest to have as close to equal time with both parents in instances of divorce, particularly early on in the process.

“Children are now more likely to see both parents regularly after a divorce, which is a huge win for the children of Kentucky considering research consistently shows shared parenting is in the best interest of children when their parents divorce,” said Matt Hale, Chairman of National Parents Organization of Kentucky. “Plus, parents are no longer in the high-conflict winner win all and loser lose all situation.”

HB 492 was initiated by National Parents Organization and sponsored by Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne, R-Prospect, and Representatives Jason Petrie, R-Elkton, and Robby Mills, R-Henderson. Petrie; Hale and Dr. Ryan Schroeder, University of Louisville Sociology Department chairman, testified supporting the law.

The law will take effect July 1. Existing child custody arrangements are not affected.

Adkins writes for The Daily Independent in Ashland.

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