A new Kentucky law could change the face of divorce proceedings across the state for the better, putting less stress on children as their parents separate.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin on April 26 signed House Bill 528, which makes Kentucky the first state in the country to establish a blanket presumption "that joint custody and equally shared parenting time is in the best interest of the child" in every divorce case.
"This should lead to less fighting between parents because we're not pitting parents against parents anymore in a winner-take-all situation," National Parents Organization Kentucky chairman Matt Hale said. "We think that'll lead to less parenting conflict and better outcomes for children."
The law includes provisions to disqualify unfit parents based on histories of domestic violence or significant mental health problems as well as physical distance that would make co-parenting impractical.
In general, Hale said, the new law will ensure children don't automatically "lose" a parent to divorce and parents' relationships after divorce don't have to become hostile over custody issues.
"What kid wouldn't want both of their parents in their life?" divorced mother Alexandra Beckman said. "What I have experienced with the children going back and forth has been really good."
The law will take effect in June.