Whether you live in Kansas or elsewhere, divorce for any married couple will accomplish two things: (1) severing the marital relationship, and (2) dividing assets and debts. If they have been married for a significant length of time and one of them will be unable to be self-supporting after the divorce, the issue of alimony may also arise. If there are minor children, they will also need to resolve issues of child custody, visitation, and support.
Residency and Where to File
In order to file for divorce in Kansas, either you or your spouse must be a resident of Kansas for at least 60 days. You may file in the District Court in the county where either of you live.
The most simple procedure is an uncontested divorce. This is where you and your spouse can reach an agreement about the division of your property, and, if you have any children, what arrangements will be made for them. You begin the divorce procedure by preparing a document called a Petition for Divorce, along with various other supporting documents. For an uncontested divorce, one of these documents will be a marital settlement agreement outlining the division of assets, and your agreement regarding any children. These documents are filed with the court, and copies of them are provided to your spouse. You will attend a court hearing, at which time the judge will make sure that all of your paperwork is in order, perhaps ask you a few questions, and enter your Decree of Divorce.
Grounds for Divorce
Grounds for divorce are legally recognized reasons to get a divorce. This is the justification for severing the marital relationship. Kansas, like most states, has what are commonly called no-fault grounds for divorce, and several traditional fault-based grounds.
To get a no-fault divorce in Kansas you need to state in the Petition for Divorce that “the parties are incompatible.”
There are also two fault-based grounds for divorce: (1) failure to perform a material marital duty or obligation, and (2) incompatibility due to mental illness or mental incapacity. However, in most cases, there is no reason to use either of these, since they add complexity to the process by requiring proof.
A divorce involves dividing property and debts between you and your spouse. Kansas divorce law provides that all property is marital property, regardless of how or when it was acquired. In dividing property the judge must consider the following factors:
- the age of the parties,
- the duration of the marriage,
- the property owned by the parties,
- each party’s present and future earning capacities,
- the time, source, and manner of acquisition of property,
- family ties and obligations,
- the allowance of maintenance (alimony) or lack thereof,
- any dissipation of assets,
- the tax consequences of the property division upon the economic circumstances of the parties; and
- any other factors the court considers necessary to make a just and reasonable division of property.
Alimony in Kansas
Alimony is referred to as maintenance or spousal support in Kansas. Unlike most states, Kansas divorce law does not provide much in the way of guidelines. All the Kansas law says is that maintenance may be awarded to either party “in an amount the court finds to be fair, just and equitable under the circumstances.” Maintenance may be ordered “in a lump sum, in periodic payments, on a percentage of earnings or on any other basis.”
Child Custody in Kansas
If you and your spouse have any minor children, there will have to be a custody determination. Traditionally, one parent was awarded custody, and the other was given visitation rights. The children lived most of the time with the custodial parent, who made the day-to-day decisions regarding the children. The non-custodial parent was allotted certain times to have visitation with the children. This often led to the custodial parent having significantly more involvement in the child’s life. The modern trend is to try to keep both parents actively involved with their children, which has led to the concept of joint custody, and Kansas law now uses the terms residency and parenting time. It all still comes down to figuring out how the children’s time will be divided between the parents, and how decisions will be made.
If you and your spouse can reach an agreement on custody, it will be accepted by the judge unless it is determined not to be in the child’s best interest. If you cannot reach a custody agreement, the judge will decide the issue, after considering the following factors:
- the length of time the child has been under the actual care and control of any person other than a parent and the circumstances relating thereto,
- the desires of the parties as to custody,
- the desires of the child as to custody or residency,
- the relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other significant person,
- the child’s adjustment to home, school and community,
- each party’s willingness and ability to respect and allow for a continuing relationship between the child and the other party,
- any evidence of spousal abuse,
- whether a party, or someone residing with a party, is subject to the Kansas Offender Registration Act, (requiring registration of sex, drug, or violent offenders),
- whether a party, or someone residing with a party, has been convicted of child abuse.
Child Support in Kansas
A decision must also be made about how the children will be financially supported. This almost always comes down to one parent paying money to the other. Child support is determined by taking into account the needs of the child, and each parent’s relative ability to meet those needs.
A child support worksheet must be completed prior to your court hearing. You may be able to obtain a copy of the worksheet from your court clerk’s office or local law library, or one is available online the Kansas Judicial Council’s website.
A court hearing may not be held until at least 60 days after the Petition is filed. A party’s maiden or former name may be restored. The court may order marriage counseling at the request or either party, or on its own.
If you are considering an uncontested divorce, LegalZoom can help you get the divorce documents you need. We help you fill out the paperwork and check it for completeness and accuracy, and provide step-by-step instructions for filing and completing your divorce online.