Modification of Custody Requires Consideration of Factors Listed in KRS 403.340(3) and a Finding of Changed Circumstances – Published Opinion from Ky. Court of Appeals

Smiling african American young dad sit on couch hug cute little daughter chatting or talking, happy black father spend time having conversation with funny preschooler child, enjoy weekend together

Carver v. Carver

Boyd Circuit Court

After a hearing on Father’s motion to modify custody from joint custody to sole custody, the Domestic Relations Commissioner (“DRC”) recommended that the parents continue to have joint custody; that Father be designated as the primary residential parent; and that Father make all decisions concerning Child’s medical and educational needs. Mother filed exceptions, which Family Court overruled, and Family Court adopted the DRC’s report in its order. Mother appealed.

The Court of Appeals held that Family Court erred by effectively modifying custody without adhering to the required statutory factors in KRS 403.340 or making a finding of changed circumstances. The order moved the custody arrangement closer to a sole custody arrangement wherein one parent has full control and singular decision-making responsibility for a child to the exclusion of the other parent. Originally, the parties had joint custody, and Family Court’s order gave Father sole authority to make decisions regarding Child’s medical and educational needs, two important categories of decision-making in Child’s upbringing. Because Family Court modified custody, it should have followed KRS 403.340, but failed to do so, because it is not clear that it considered the factors in KRS 403.340(3) or made a finding that there was a change in circumstances warranting modification.

Digested by Nathan R. Hardymon

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