Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody


What is the difference between joint custody and sole custody in the context of a Family Law case in Kentucky, including Family Law cases in Oldham County and Jefferson County?

A great discussion of the difference is contained in the Kentucky Supreme Court case of Pennington v. Marcum, Ky., 266 S.W.3d 759 (2008). The case provides a good discussion of the significance between joint custody and sole custody and the various subsets of each.

Custody of children is “either sole or joint.” Pennington, 266 S.W.3d at 767. Under a joint custody arrangement “both parents have responsibility for and authority over their children at all times” Pennington, 266 S.W.3d at 764.

The Court went on to say that “a significant and unique aspect of joint custody is that both parents possess the rights, privileges, and responsibilities associated with parenting and are expected to consult and participate equally in the children’s upbringing.” Id. According to Pennington, joint custody means “joint decision making” Pennington, 266 S.W.3d at 767.

The difference between joint custody and sole custody is the difference in this decision-making capability. In a joint custody situation decision making is vested in both parents. In a sole custody situation, decision making is vested in one parent. Pennington, 266 S.W.3d at 767.

Even if one parent is granted custody, or even primary residence, the other parent is generally entitled to visitation rights unless the court finds that “visitation would endanger seriously the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.” See, KRS 403.320.

Jason Dattilo has handled both sides of complex custody cases in various counties throughout Kentucky, including Jefferson County and Oldham County.

Call Jason Dattilo today to discuss your custody case or any other Family Law issue.

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