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You may be facing a divorce in Kentucky and finding it a challenge to take full custody of your children. It might seem like an even more complicated process when one parent is incarcerated or going through a substance abuse treatment program. Recent data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and published through Kentucky Youth Advocates shows the Bluegrass state as having the highest rate of children staying with their relatives because they cannot live with their parents safely. When alcohol, drugs or other addictions are involved, a family court judge may decide who takes custody and has visitation rights based on what is in the best interests of the child.

The national rate for the number of children who are in the custody and care of their grandparents or another relative is 4%. In Kentucky, however, this rate was 9% for the years between 2016 and 2018. The data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau does not highlight why relatives are given custody of these children, but the Department for Community Based Services did not intervene in most of these cases. The DCBS did, however, indicate that 15,000 children in Kentucky were placed in the custody of their friends or relatives due to neglect or abuse by their parents.

Family court judges in Kentucky are neutral when it comes to determining who is awarded custody of the children during a divorce. In many cases, an agreement is made to split custody and visitation rights between both of the parents. If one parent is unable to care for or spend time with a child, alternative arrangements may be made, including children staying with their grandparents or other relatives.

Our page on child custody FAQs provides answers to common questions about making living arrangements for children and how individual solutions may be developed.