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What is de Facto Custody?

Kentucky Revised Statute 403.270(1)(a) is the first place to look to answer the question What is de Facto Custody?.  KRS 403.270 (1)(a) states that a de facto child custodian is “a person who has been shown by clear and convincing evidence to have been the primary caregiver for, and financial supporter of, a child who has resided with the person for a period of six (6) months or more if the child is under three (3) years of age and for a period of one (1) year or more if the child is three (3) years of age or older or has been placed by the Department for Community Based Services.”

If you are the biological or adoptive parent of a child, then you are a de jure child custodian (responsible for the care, custody, and control of a child or children by operation of law).  However, if you are not a de jure child custodian, you are not necessarily excluded from having a legal relationship to and with a child in your care.

In divorce and child custody cases, the most frequent class of individuals who ask “What is de Facto Custody?” are extended family members (most frequently grandparents).  For some reason, the biological or adoptive parent has become unavailable.  A family member then steps up and takes care of the child, both in terms of time and money.  If you have been the primary caregiver for and financial supporter of a child for six (6) months or more if the child is under the age of three (3) or one (1) year or more if the child is over the age of three (3), then you qualify as a de facto child custodian.

When a client then must prove that he, she or they qualify as a de facto child custodian, how is it done?  Usually, there is little dispute about where a child lives.  In this age with all events subject to digital documentation, most people have pretty solid evidence about the amount of time they spend with a child in their care.  Other sources of evidence are schools, daycare providers and healthcare providers.  Financial support is frequently more difficult to prove.  If you have been paying bills for the child or children in question, keep the receipts.  They are the best proof that you are the primary financial supporter for that child.

If this is a question you must have answered, please take a look at this article or just give me a call. Also, please feel free to learn more at or or if you are not ready to talk.  Thanks for reading.

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