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Hoge Partners, PLLC

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Louisville, Kentucky 40202

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Children, Custody, Visitation and Parenting Plans

Relocation Issues

If you fear losing time and contact with your children, if you're worried about the other parent relocating with your children to a distant city or even another country, if you're concerned about protecting your rights as a father or mother, you need competent and experienced legal counsel from an attorney who has been working in Family Law long enough to know the law, the courts, the legal system and how best to protect your interests as a parent.

International Parental Abductions

If your child has been abducted or detained by the other parent and taken outside the borders of the United States, we refer you to our "Parental Abductions" page which discusses the application of The Hague Convention in foreign parental abductions.  This includes children taken to foreign countries and parents who refuse to allow children to return to their homeland.  Don't trust such an important matter as getting your children returned to their habitual place of residence to someone with no experience in this highly complex area of international family law.  Dealing with the U.S. State Department and foreign Central Authorities is no simple matter and you need someone like Bill Hoge with several years of experience in this unique area of practice.

Domestic Parental Abductions

If your children habitually reside herein Kentucky but have been abducted and are believed to remain inside the U.S., you need to first contact the local police.  Then, call Bill Hoge for advice on what can be done through the legal system in Greater Louisville (especially Jefferson County and Oldham County) to protect the children and your rights as a parent.

Fathers' Rights

If you believe your parental rights as a FATHER have been given short-shrift by the Court system, Bill Hoge can talk to you about your options as a parent.  Whether you believe that the mother was given preferential rights, that your rights as a father have been ignored or marginalized or if you simply believe that your rights have been trampled upon, we urge you to seek competent, experienced legal counsel to protect your relationship with your children and your own rights as a parent. 

Importance of Experienced Legal Counsel

The judge does not know you or your children. If you want them to appreciate your side of the case, you are going to have to provide details about you and your family. You must be able to back up that information with as much independent proof as possible. Your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and opinions are all valid. However, the court must base its decision on genuine evidence.  You need an experienced Family Law attorney to represent you in this emotionally charged arena.


Even though your marriage or relationship is dissolving, your role as a parent will continue for the rest of your life!

Your ability to sustain co-parenting after divorce and to have a positive impact on your children is highly dependent on your ability to problem solve and communicate together on issues related to your children's welfare.

Joint Custody

The most common custody arrangement is joint custody with the non-residential parent (that is, the parent with whom the children do not reside with the most) having visitation of at least every other weekend from 6 P.M. Friday to 6 P.M. Sunday, with a rotation of traditionally celebrated holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, Thanksgiving, birthdays, etc.), all or a portion of the children's spring breaks and a prolonged uninterrupted visitation period in the summer.

The length of summer visitation depends mostly upon the age of the child. The older the child is, the longer the summer visitation, generally two weeks to a month. In addition, weekly Wednesday evening visitations are frequently awarded to non-custodial parents.

Simply put, "joint custody" means the parents – that means both of them share decision-making responsibilities. Joint custody has little to do with who has a child when but more so relates to shared decision making.

In joint custody, the parents make major decisions about the child together. This includes decisions about health, education and religion, for example. Smaller day-to-day decisions are made by the parent who is physically caring for the child at the time the decision needs to be made.

Obviously, genuine emergency situations necessitate a parent having physical possession of the child making major decisions such as surgery, medical care, etc. without the input of the other parent but this sort of unilateral decision making must be reserved for true emergencies. Whether or not to pierce a child's ears, whether to sign the child up for soccer or ballet classes, etc. are not "emergencies" in the eyes of the court and should be reserved for joint decision making.

Sole Custody

Nowadays, sole custody is granted only very rarely and only in circumstances where the presence of the non-custodial parent in a child's life places that child in clear and present risk of truly serious injury (sexual or physical abuse of a child, chronic drug use by a parent, severe mental illness, etc.)

A parent with sole custody has exclusive physical custody of a child, subject only to the non-custodial parent's visitation rights.  It may or may not include supervised visitation of the children by the non-custodial parent and occasionally may even require the non-custodial parent to submit to drug screenings or other mechanisms to ensure a child's safety and welfare.  A parent with sole custody has the unilateral right to make important decisions on behalf of that child, including health, education, religious upbringing, general welfare, etc.

Shared Parenting

Time sharing or shared parenting describes an arrangement through which the parents share the children on a more equal basis than typical joint custody situations.

In a shared custody arrangement, each parent has approximately equal periods of custody of the child.  For this type of child custody arrangement to work, the parents obviously need to live in close proximity to each another.  This is necessary to facilitate the child’s interactions at school and with friends.

Shared custody requires the parties to have an superior ability to cooperate and communicate effectively.  Truly sharing custody and parenting time as well as responsibilities means Mom and Dad must be able to collaborate on parenting decisions, be flexible in meeting their children's needs and must be able to put their children ahead of their own interests.

Shared parenting may provide the children with a more stable environment but this arrangement is not appropriate for parents with high-conflict relationships.


There is no "right" parenting schedule that fits all families or all age groups.

An experienced Family Law attorney should be able to help his or her client achieve a unique schedule for maximizing each parent's time with the children.  Don't settle for a "cookie-cutter" parenting schedule.  Every situation is unique and demands an individualized approach.

There are a number of very useful on-line calendaring tools that may help you and your former spouse with scheduling and record keeping concerning your parenting times with the children.  We suggest you investigate these free on-line shared family calendaring systems at:

"Birdnesting" allows parents to flit back and forth to keep kids at home after divorce.  This is a unique solution that's only suitable for a small percentage of situations.  It's what reality TV stars Jon and Kate Gosselin did to permit their eight children to continue to live in the large home built for them.  "Birdnesting parents" travel back and forth to the children's home to exchange their parenting times rather than the kids moving back and forth from Mom's house to Dad's house.


The Kentucky Supreme Court made a landmark decision on January 21, 2010 in the case of Mullins v. Picklesimer.  The case involves two women who were previously a lesbian couple.  One of them gave birth to a child through artificial insemination.  The women filed a joint custody agreement the following year (2006) but split up two months later.  Several months later, the birth mother denied her former partner contact with the child, giving rise to several years of legal action.

This 2010 decision reverses a Kentucky Court of Appeals ruling saying that the non-birth mother "lacked standing" to pursue joint custody of the boy, who will be 5 in May 2010, because she was not technically a parent.

The high court of Kentucky's ruling is significant to same-gender couples as well as to family members such as grandparents and also non-related persons who have been significantly involved in raising children as it may give them legal standing to seek custody even if they are not a biological parent if doing so is in the best interest of the child.

In Mullins v. Picklesimer, the majority of the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the former couple made multiple decisions about the child before and after his birth, with the non-biological person caring for the boy while the women were together and for five months after they split up.  "This would distinguish the nonparent acting as a parent to the child from a grandparent, a baby-sitter, or a boyfriend or girlfriend of the parent, who watched the child for the parent, but who was never intended by the parent to be doing so in the same capacity of another parent," wrote Justice Wil Schroeder in the majority opinion.

The dissenting minority of the Kentucky Supreme Court expressed concern that this decision opens the door for a host of people to petition for joint custody, so long as they can show shared participation in child rearing, and threatens to destabilize some families.

Kentucky has now joined at least 17 other states in recognizing "de facto" parents over the objections of "fit" biological parents.

  • "Kentucky Supreme Court OKs joint custody for ex-lesbian couple":

Return to our main Custody & Visitation page to learn more about child custody, visitation and parenting schedules