Shared Parenting Legislation


KENTUCKY – On July 14, Kentucky became the first state with a shared parenting starting point for child custody when families end.

House Bill 528 received bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans in Kentucky’s legislature. The House of Representatives passed it with an 81-2 vote, while the Senate gave unanimous approval. Gov. Matt Bevin signed it into law in late April. This historic piece of legislation will specifically benefit African-American families.

This new law assumes equal parenting time is best for children. Primary custody is an outdated concept in America’s family court system and creates unnecessary strain on the children when parents choose separate or divorce. Shared parenting’s definition is equal physical parenting time, plus “joint custody,” which is equal decision-making. It works because children do much better when they have regular contact with two loving parents.

In particular, African-American fathers in Kentucky will have a new starting point in determining custody. A 2014 study in the Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy concluded that extreme challenges exist in obtaining parental rights due to stereotypes surrounding African-American masculinity. According to the findings, “Though unmarried, noncustodial black fathers are more likely to visit and spend time with their children than unmarried, noncustodial fathers of other races, black men must contend with the stereotype that they are Absent Black Fathers when they enter the courtroom.”

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