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FAN-PAC Celebrates Transformative Kentucky Equal Shared Parenting Law

Kentucky Becomes the First State to Recognize the Critical Role Both Parents Have in the Lives of Their Children; Regardless of the Structure of the Family

FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY – Governor Matt Bevin signed groundbreaking legislation that makes clear it is in the best interests of our children they have equal access to both parents after separation.  Thanks to the dedication of the Kentucky Legislature and the conviction of Gov. Bevin, every child in Kentucky will have equal access to both fit parents. Kentucky now leads the nation in protecting a child’s most basic need when their parents divorce or separate. HB528, originally signed on Thursday April 26th became law in June.

FAN-PAC thanks and congratulates the legislators and citizens of Kentucky and recognizes the critical role of dedicated advocates in seeing this legislation become law.  Matt Hale, Chair of National Parents Organization in Kentucky has led this reform effort in Kentucky for the past 5 years and these efforts were rewarded with the passing of this bill.

“April 26 goes down in history as the day Kentucky became the first true shared parenting state in the United States. Kentucky, more than any other state, can now say it does everything it can to give children two loving parents after divorce – just as our children deserve,” said Mr. Hale. “Research overwhelmingly shows children want and need both parents after separation. Our state lawmakers responded by aligning state laws with the research. This represents a common sense yet unprecedented move. Our lawmakers and primary sponsors Jason Petrie and Kevin Bratcher should be commended.”

Many states have introduced similar legislation over the past few years, some have passed laws with favorable shared parenting language, however, Kentucky’s law makes clear the definition of the best interests of the child.  By creating a rebuttable presumption it is presumed at the beginning of any custody hearing that minor children are best served when both parents have joint legal custody and parenting time is shared equally.  This presumption can be overcome by a preponderance of evidence that a parent is not fit to have this access.  The law still provides for judicial discretion where domestic violence is present and may consider additional factors on a case by case basis. 

This law follows on the heels of similar legislation passed in 2017 that provided for this type of custody arrangement in temporary orders.  This law should serve as a template for other states to follow.  Many states have custody laws that are outdated, were created at a time when the traditional family was the norm.  Today’s families take on a very different look than they did in the 1960’s and 1970’s when the ‘best interest of the child’ standard was developed.  Laws relating to the custody and care of our children must reflect the needs and opportunities presented by 21st century standards and evolve as our families evolve.

FAN-PAC is committed to seeing similar legislation pass in New Jersey and beyond.  Thank you to all who worked hard in Kentucky to make this happen and be true champions for our children.

Rafael Franco