By Matt Hale
For The Mountain Advocate
Knox County has a long history of developing children into productive citizens. Through Union College, Appalachian Children’s Home or Knox County Public Schools, your county has a lot to offer kids and young adults. Recently, Knox County took it a step further and helped all of Kentucky’s children.
Knox County is represented by Senate President Robert Stivers. President Stivers leadership helped the Kentucky Senate unanimously pass what many are calling the best joint child custody law in the country. The new law, recently signed by Governor Bevin, encourages judges to allow children to see both parents equally after families end if the parents are fit. The law is clear in its preference for joint custody and has well defined exceptions that protect children from parents who should not have custody.
It seems so obvious that kids should get to see both capable parents the same but that was not the law. Before, most cases awarded primary custody to one parent while the “losing” parent became a visitor getting “visitation”.
Worse yet, these primary custody arrangements were harming children. Having one parent basically removed from kids’ lives made adjusting to separated families even harder. Plus, the children often suffered from the parental conflict that a winner take all/ loser lose all situation created.
But leaders such as President Stivers, your state rep Jim Stewart and Senate Judiciary Chairman Whitney Westerfield stepped in to fix things. Kentucky is now a shared parenting state. In shared parenting, both parents have equal decision making and see the children equally if the caregivers are fit and there is no finding of domestic violence. Dr. Ryan Schroeder, Chair of the University of Louisville’s Sociology Department, testified that the research was remarkably clear that equal time joint custody was better for children if parental violence was absent.
So, yet again, Knox County has stepped up for kids. Kentucky’s kids will be less likely to do drugs and more likely to do art or football. Thank you to President Stivers, Representative Stewart and all of Knox County for giving Kentucky the best shared parenting law in the country.
For more information, see the news story.
Matt Hale is the Kentucky Chair of the National Parents Organization. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.