Custody and Paternity in Kentucky

When a child is born out of wedlock in Kentucky the mother of the child is the only person with legal custody of the minor child, but this can change very quickly.

How is paternity established?

Paternity can be established through multiple mechanisms. The first and easiest method is at the hospital.

Is his name on the Birth Certificate?

At the hospital a father should have the opportunity to sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity. The father’s name should only appear on the birth certificate if he has properly completed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity in front of a notary. The hospital is legally required to provide all forms and a notary. If the father has not executed the voluntary acknowledgement of paternity then section on the birth certificate concerning the child’s father will remain blank. It may be completed at a later date once the paternity has been established via other means.

Once the father properly executes the voluntary acknowledgement of paternity a rebuttable presumption of paternity is created. After 60 days from the execution of the document, court intervention will be required to declare a father different from the one who has acknowledged paternity.

How do I establish paternity if my name is not on the birth certificate?

If a father has not acknowledged paternity at the hospital other mechanisms may be used to establish paternity. The Commonwealth of Kentucky provides services to establish paternity via the local Child Support Office. However, a mother or father can use the help of an attorney.

Why is paternity important?

Paternity establishment is important for a myriad of reasons.

For a mother paternity establishment is particularly important if she needs financial support from the father for the raising of the minor child. The mother will not be able to recover child support from a father until paternity has been established.

What is the difference between “custody” and “parenting time”?

The term custody in this context means the parental responsibility, guardianship, and protective care of the child. In practice, this means who has the decision making ability regarding all aspects of the child’s life. If a mother and father have joint custody then both will share in the decision making. If one parent or the other has sole custody then that parent alone will make all the decisions.

“Joint Custody” does not mean that the parties will automatically have an equal division of parenting time. In some instances, especially where distance is a factor, parents may share joint custody when a mother or father only sees the child once a month. On the flip side, one parent may have sole custody even though the other parent exercises visitation daily.

Parenting Time is but one factor in the larger picture of custody. In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, will presume that parents should have joint custody, and any parent seeking sole custody will have a difficult time changing this presumption. The distribution of parenting time on the other hand can vary significantly from case to case. Some of the most important factors in determining parenting time are how often you work, when you work, where you work, where you live, where the child goes to school, and where the child goes to daycare. A parent could have joint custody and be an amazing parent but only see his or child every other week if said parent’s work schedule is too demanding.

Who is entitled to parenting time?

Generally, only the mother and father are entitled to parenting time. The mother and father have superior right to the custody and care of the child over every other person. This means that when a child is not in school and if one parent is at work but the other is not then the non-working parent is entitled to exercise parenting time. This means that even if a grandparent is watching the child the non-working parent should be allowed to exercise parenting time. Grandparents, except in rare situations, cannot exercise extensive time with the child to the exclusion of the other parent. If you are confronting this issue, you should contact the attorneys today to discuss your case what you may or may not be able to do.

Why do I need an attorney to help me establish custody and paternity?

Your child is your most precious possession on the planet. If you have joint custody of your child with another person to whom you are not married you will need to work with that person effectively to raise the child in a manner allowing the child to thrive. When little to no trust exists between parents, working together can be extremely difficult. Shifting the focus from personal differences to the health and welfare of your child can seem insurmountable. This can especially be the case when the other parent remarries or has a new boyfriend or girlfriend who attempts to contribute to the matter.

In this situation, you need the help of experienced attorneys to establish a custody agreement which will work as a rule book as to how you and your fellow parent will work together to achieve your common goal, ie, the creation of an environment in which your child thrives.