No one makes the decision to end their marriage lightly. However, when you and your spouse no longer see eye to eye or care to share your future, divorce may be the only option. A Kansas City divorce attorney at The Bright Family Law Center can guide you through the divorce process every step of the way and will help you make decisions that are in the best interests of yourself and your family.
Residency Requirements in a Kansas Divorce
To file for divorce in Kansas, at least one spouse must have established residency in the state for a minimum of 60 days prior to filing. Meeting this requirement is essential for initiating the divorce process in Kansas, ensuring that the court has jurisdiction over the case. In some cases, the court may grant a divorce due to an emergency but this is not very uncommon.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Kansas
According to Kansas law, divorces can be categorized into two main types: contested and uncontested divorces.
An uncontested divorce occurs when both spouses agree on all major issues related to the divorce, including property division, spousal maintenance (if applicable), child custody, and parenting time. In an uncontested divorce, the spouses have reached a mutual agreement and do not require the court’s intervention to settle these matters.
A contested divorce, on the other hand, is one where the spouses cannot agree on one or more important issues, such as property division, spousal maintenance, child custody, and parenting time. In a contested divorce, the court will need to make decisions on these issues if the spouses cannot reach an agreement on their own.
Legal Separation in Kansas
Legal separation in Kansas is a legal process that allows couples to live separately and address various issues related to their marriage without formally ending the marital relationship. It is distinct from divorce, as the marriage remains legally intact after a legal separation.
- Legal Separation Agreement: To pursue a legal separation, spouses can enter into a legal separation agreement that may cover matters such as property division, spousal maintenance, child custody, parenting time, and child support.
- Residency Requirements: Kansas does not have specific residency requirements for legal separation. Therefore, a couple from out of state can pursue a legal separation in Kansas if they wish.
- Conversion to Divorce: Under certain circumstances, and depending on the timing, if a couple who has legally separated decides they want to end their marriage, they can usually convert the legal separation into a divorce by amending the legal separation agreement to address the divorce’s terms.
Annulment in Kansas
In Kansas, an annulment is a legal process that declares a marriage null and void, as if it never existed. Unlike divorce, which ends a valid marriage, an annulment is typically granted under specific circumstances that render the marriage invalid from its inception. Grounds for annulment in Kansas may include:
- bigamy (one spouse was already married to someone else at the time of the marriage)
- A lack of mental capacity
- Marriage involving minors without parental consent
Steps Involved in a Kansas Divorce
Consult with an Attorney
Before starting the divorce process, it is prudent to consult with an experienced family law attorney. Your Overland Park divorce attorney can provide dedicated legal representation and professional advice to protect your rights throughout the divorce process.
Prepare and File Divorce Petition
The person seeking the divorce (the petitioner) must prepare a Petition for Divorce. This legal document outlines the grounds for divorce and the requested relief, such as property division, child custody, and maintenance. The petitioner files this document with the district court in the county where they reside.
Serve Divorce Papers
After filing, the petitioner must serve the divorce papers on the other spouse (the respondent). Service can be done by a process server, sheriff, or anyone who is not a party to the case and over the age of 18.
Response and Counterclaim
The respondent can file an Answer to the Petition, agreeing or disagreeing with the terms in the petition. The respondent may also file a Counterclaim if they have additional requests or wish to assert their own grounds for divorce.
If necessary, either party can request temporary orders for issues like child custody, support, and spousal support during the divorce process. These orders are designed to provide temporary solutions until the divorce is finalized.
The parties may engage in the discovery process, which involves exchanging information and documents relevant to the divorce, such as financial records and evidence for any disputed issues.
Prior to trial, the court may schedule a pretrial conference to discuss the case and try to resolve any remaining issues.
If the spouses cannot reach an agreement on all issues, a trial may be necessary. At trial, both parties present evidence and arguments, and the judge will make decisions on disputed matters.
If the Kansas court grants the divorce, a Decree of Divorce is issued. This document finalizes the divorce and outlines the terms of the settlement, including property division, child custody, and support.
Property division in Kansas is based on the principle of “equitable distribution,” which means that marital property and debts should be divided in a “just, fair and equitable” manner. Marital property typically includes assets and debts acquired during the marriage, while separate property generally consists of assets or debts acquired before the marriage, through inheritance, or as gifts to one spouse.
Kansas courts consider various factors, including each spouse’s financial circumstances, contributions to the marital property, and the length of the marriage when determining how to distribute assets and debts.
Child Custody and Parenting Time
In Kansas, child custody and parenting time arrangements are made with the best interests of the child as the primary consideration. When parents cannot agree on custody, the court will make determinations regarding legal and physical custody, taking into account factors such as:
- the child’s age
- the child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community
- the mental and physical health of the parents
- any history of abuse
- the ability of each parent to provide a stable and loving environment
Child support in Kansas is governed by state guidelines, as outlined in the Kansas Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines consider the income of both parents, the number of children, and other relevant factors to determine the appropriate amount of child support that the non-custodial parent should pay to the custodial parent.
Child support calculations aim to ensure that children receive financial support that meets their needs while considering the financial circumstances of both parents.
Spousal maintenance in Kansas, as governed by Kansas Statute 23-2902, entails court-ordered payments from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning or non-earning spouse during or after divorce proceedings.
The law limits spousal maintenance to a period not exceeding 121 months and does not recognize maintenance based on maintaining a specific lifestyle. Instead, the court must determine spousal maintenance based on the recipient’s need and the paying party’s ability to provide support.
Get Help from a Proven Kansas Divorce Attorney Today
Getting divorced does not have to be the end of the world. In fact, in many cases, deciding to end your marriage is the best way to move forward into a brighter future. Our team of experienced Kansas divorce and family law attorneys at The Bright Family Law Center understands how difficult this time in your life must be. We are prepared to guide you through the divorce process and protect your rights. Do not let yourself get taken advantage of by your soon-to-be ex. Connect with a dedicated family law advocate at our firm to initiate your divorce proceedings or work with you to finalize the terms of your divorce. To schedule a confidential consultation for your family law cases, call us at (913) 239-9966 or contact us online.