How to Change Child Custody in Kentucky

By Lindsay Kramer

Updated October 18, 2019

Hemera Technologies/ Images

The laws regarding child custody vary from state to state. Divorcing and divorced parents in Kentucky can learn about Kentucky’s specific custody laws on the internet or by discussing child custody with their lawyers. Parents might ask questions or conduct searches, such as “at what age can a child decide which parent to live with in Kentucky” and “how can I petition for custody Kentucky.” Often, this leads them to free printable child custody forms.

Filing Petition for Custody Kentucky

During a divorce, a parent can file a petition for custody in Kentucky with the court handling the divorce, which is generally the county court where one of the parents resides. Parents can obtain the necessary paperwork for doing so from the court or they can download and fill out free printable child custody forms. Once completed, these forms must be submitted to the court.

Petitioning to Modify Child Custody in Kentucky

Under most circumstances, a Kentucky child custody order may be modified only when it has been in place for at least two years. However, if the current custody arrangement poses a threat to the child’s health or safety, it may be modified before two years elapse. A parent who files a petition to modify her current custody order must provide evidence to support her claim that the child’s custody arrangement is harmful or has the potential to be harmful to her child’s well-being. This evidence can include:

  • Testimonies from the child’s teacher or pediatrician.
  • Photographic evidence of injuries the child sustained while under the other parent’s care.
  • Documentation of the other parent’s attempt to alienate the child from the petitioning parent.
  • Documentation of the other parent’s substance abuse, violent actions or criminal activity.
  • Documentation showing that a significant change has occurred in the other parent’s household, such as a violent relative moving in.
  • Copies of the child’s medical record showing that his health will suffer if he remains in the current custody arrangement.

Demonstrating a Reason to Change Custody

When both parents agree to modify their child custody order, the court typically approves the petition and amends the child custody agreement. When one parent objects to the other’s petition to change their child custody order, though, the parent who filed the petition must successfully demonstrate that a modification is in the child’s best interest in order to have the order modified.

To determine the child’s best interest, the court considers various factors about her needs and lifestyle. These factors include:

  • The child’s relationship with both parents and others in their households.
  • The child’s academic, social and emotional needs.
  • The child’s existing routine and the desirability of maintaining it.

In a petition to modify a child custody order, which can be found among free printable child custody forms online, the parent seeking the modification must describe the specific ways the modification is in the child’s best interest. For example, the parent may be moving away to pursue a higher paying job. Moving with the parent means the child can have a higher standard of living, but that her current parenting time schedule is no longer feasible. In his petition, the parent must demonstrate that the higher standard of living afforded by his new job outweighs the drawback of his child seeing her other parent less frequently.

Determining the Child’s Best Interest

Ultimately, the court is tasked with creating a child custody order that suits the child’s best interest. This means creating a custody arrangement that creates the healthiest physical, emotional and mental environment possible for the child. In most situations, the ideal custody order grants the child time with both parents.

Many parents wonder, “at what age can a child decide which parent to live with in Kentucky?” If the child is 14 years old or older, the court will consider the child's preference regarding the custody order. This does not mean the court will approve whatever custody arrangement the child asks for, but that the child’s preference is one of the factors the court considers when making its decision.