What is a De Facto Custodian?

A de facto custodian is latin term for someone who takes the place of a parent. In Kentucky law, if a person qualifies under the statute as a de facto custodian, they can then petition the courts for custody and begin on the same footing as a parent.

Generally, a parent has preferential custody rights to any child over anyone else. To that end, the parent must be proven to be unfit in order for another person to claim custody in Kentucky. If both parents are unfit, whether by dependency, neglect or abuse, then the court can appoint either the state or another individual to have temporary custody. If the state has custody, then the child can be placed with a relative, in foster care, or at a specialized institution.

In order to qualify as a de facto custodian, there are certain statutory criteria pursuant to KRS 403.270.

There are a few factors that qualify someone as a de facto custodian, such as:

  • They have served as the primary caregiver for a significant period. This is defined as:
    • Six months for children under 3
    • One year for children older than 3
  • They are the sole provider of financial support;
  • They provide the child with shelter and security; and
  • They have an established bond and relationship with the child

A de facto custodian is usually a family member, such as a grandparent, but they do not necessarily need to be a family relation. Time is critical in timely filing a motion to protect rights under this statute. Do not delay if you want to pursue rights!

Once filed and proven as a de facto custodian, that person has the same rights as a parent in pursuit of custody of a minor child. The court then turns to the best interest standard to determine where to place a child, custody and visitation.

If you qualify or want to seek rights as a de facto custodian, regardless of your biological relationship, you will need to hire an experienced attorney who is familiar with your county and the judges. For consultation and representation in Northern Kentucky, call Michael Bouldin at 859-581-6453 or email mike@bouldinlawfirm.com

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