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Child Custody and the Allocation of Shared Parenting Time

In Kentucky, the minimum allocation of shared parenting time in a child custody case is very narrowly defined. Under our Family Court Rules of Practice and Procedure, the minimum is every other weekend, with an overnight to occur midweek. Happily, in the Louisville area, we often find an increasing willingness to award more than the minimums, provided that there is a suitable home environment; further, due to the circumstances of modern life, courts are often willing to make allowances due to the unusual work needs of emergency service personnel, people working in health care and those who find themselves traveling.

In this environment, we find that the decisionmaking power in child custody cases is generally shared; big decisions are something which most parents are deemed responsible enough to reach through agreement, and this responsibility is recognized through a decree of joint custody. From a practical standpoint, however, many big decisions get made through the allocation of shared parenting time - the agreement of the parents as to which obtains the greater extent of time (or a judicial determination, if they can't agree) often determines where the children go to school, how much time they spend with half-siblings and extended family, how and where they spend their holidays and whether they will be moved from the original jurisdictional county or out of Kentucky altogether.

I tend to find that original custody determinations and modifications are intensely fact driven, and focus analysis on a few major points.

1. Why the current arrangement cannot continue.

2. Why the other party cannot offer up a suitable alternative.

3. What positives the proposed arrangement brings to the table.

4. What disruptions may be occasioned by the proposed arrangement.

5. Whether the proposed arrangement is in the best interests of the child.

6. Whether the proposed arrangement is sustainable.

While the motivation for an arrangement regarding custody and the allocation of parenting time may not be altruistic (some arrangements are sought, to be honest, from either an emotional well of spite or a desire to affect support expense), I tend to find that the questions of motivation are not generally dispositive of the analytical factors, as those stand on their own, and are independent.