Determining the Best Interests of the Child - Kentucky

Date: September 2023

Guiding Principles

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 620.010

Children have certain fundamental rights that must be protected and preserved, including, but not limited to, the rights to adequate food, clothing, and shelter; the right to be free from physical, sexual, or emotional injury or exploitation; the right to develop physically, mentally, and emotionally to their potential; the right to educational instruction; and the right to a secure, stable family. It is further recognized that upon some occasions, to protect and preserve the rights and needs of children, it is necessary to remove a child from their parents.

Best Interests Factors

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 620.023

Evidence of the following circumstances, if relevant, shall be considered by the court in all proceedings in which the court is required to render decisions in the best interests of the child:

  • Mental illness or an intellectual disability of the parent, as attested to by a qualified mental health professional, which renders the parent unable to care for the immediate and ongoing needs of the child
  • Acts of abuse or neglect toward any child
  • Substance use disorder that results in an incapacity by the parent or caregiver to provide essential care and protection for the child
  • A finding of domestic violence and abuse, whether or not committed in the presence of the child
  • Any other crime committed by a parent that results in the death or permanent physical or mental disability of a member of that parent's family or household
  • The existence of any guardianship or conservatorship of the parent pursuant to a determination or disability or partial disability

In determining the best interests of the child, the court may consider the effectiveness of rehabilitative efforts made by the parent or caregiver intended to address circumstances in this section.

Other Considerations 

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.