October 23, 2015 Published Family Law Opinion from Ky Court of Appeals: Required Child Custody Findings

Shot of a confident senior woman looking thoughtful outdoors


Grandparents assumed care of children, with the exception of a special needs child, after biological mother and biological father were both incarcerated. The special needs child was placed with friend of grandparents equipped to deal with his special medical needs. Grandparents filed motion to be designated as de facto custodians and for permanent custody of all three children. Biological father consented to grandparent’s motion for permanent custody and waived his right to appear at the hearing. After a hearing on the matter, the family court awarded grandparents permanent custody, finding biological father had waived his rights, biological mother was unfit to have custody, and it was in the best interest of the children for grandparents to have custody, although the grandparents were not de facto custodians.

Biological mother argues that the family court failed to prove she was an unfit parent, and therefore there are no grounds to award permanent custody to a non-parent. The court merely stated “The mother has a serious substance abuse problem,” while the mother provided testimony she as attended AA meetings, was sober, had passed all drug tests, maintained full-time employment, and cared for the children for almost the entire month of June after being released from prison. As the family court provided a conclusory statement regarding mother’s unfitness, and made no other findings of fact, the Court of Appeals vacated and remanded the order granting grandparents custody. Although not necessary, the Court of Appeals also notes the family court did not conduct a proper best interest analysis, as the court failed to address the factors set forth in KRS 403.270.

Digested by Elizabeth M. Howell

Recent Posts

Kentucky Court of Appeals reverses Allen Family Court, vacates IPO extension based on insufficient written findings to support evidence of stalking by Respondent
March 20, 2023
Kentucky Court of Appeals upholds Jefferson Family Court order requiring Cabinet to pay for parents’ expert fees in DNA case with medical issue at center
February 8, 2023
Kentucky Court of Appeals affirms Simpson Family Court’s decision to allow third party intervention based on fraud which prevented him from being heard prior to motion to intervene
February 8, 2023