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Grounds for Divorce Under Kansas Divorce Laws
There are two categories to choose from when it comes to grounds for divorce in Kansas. The first is the no-fault grounds, which is based on your compatibility (or, rather, incompatibility) with your spouse. The second category includes two grounds for divorce:
- One spouse’s failure to fulfill a material marital duty or obligation or
- Incompatibility of the parties due to mental illness of one or both spouses
Kansas divorce laws specify that before you may file for divorce in the state, at least one of you must be a resident of the state for a minimum of sixty (60) days immediately prior to the filing of the petition for divorce. The petition for divorce may be filed in the county where either you or your spouse resides.
An alternate option for couples who want to be apart without getting a divorce, Kansas divorce laws permit a judgment of separation. The grounds for legal separation are the same as for a decree of divorce. If you later change your mind and want to be divorced, you will have to go through the process of divorce. If you wish to eventually marry someone else, you must get a divorce; legal separation does not allow for marriage to another person because you are still legally married.
In Kansas there is a sixty-day waiting period from the filing of the petition for divorce until a divorce decree will be granted. This is the minimum amount of time you must wait so don’t be surprised if it takes longer.Alimony/Spousal Support.
When it comes to divorce and money, there is really no way to make it fun. One issue that you probably never even considered before you got married is alimony.
If your spouse was previously supporting you then you may be entitled to receive alimony from her, and vice-versa. The court will decide which spouse to award alimony and the amount of alimony to be paid. In some cases, alimony is not awarded to either spouse because the court did not find it necessary or as part of an agreement made between the spouses. If you both have substantial income to support yourselves, alimony will not be an issue for you.
Alimony may be periodic, lump sum, based upon a percentage of earnings or any other basis. The award may be any amount determined by the court to be fair and equitable. The maximum length of an alimony award is 121 months, after which the person receiving alimony may petition the court to extend the payments for an additional period of up to 121 months.
Distribution of Property
At the end of every relationship, there are gains and there are losses. It depends on a number of factors including the length of your relationship, what you brought into the marriage, and what you acquired during the course of the marriage. The good news is that Kansas is an equitable distribution state. This means that the court will set aside any property that belongs exclusively to you or your spouse and then divide the marital (shared) property between you both as it deems equitable and just. Some of the factors the court considers in dividing the property include:
- The age of the parties
- The duration of the marriage
- The property owned by the parties
- The parties present and future earning capacities
- The time, source, and manner of acquisition of the property
- Family ties and obligations
- The allowance of maintenance or lack thereof
- Dissipation of assets
- The tax consequences of the parties
- Any other factors the court considers necessary for just and equitable distribution of property
If you have children from this marriage, the next three topics are relevant to you; otherwise, you may choose skip ahead. A divorce from a marriage that involves children is an entirely differently matter from a divorce without children. In the latter case, you may consider your own needs above the needs of the other party and proceed in a way that best serves your interests. When minor children are involved, you must put their needs above your own.
The matter of child custody should be decided with the best interests of the child in mind. You may be able to settle this matter with your spouse or you may require the help of the courts. In most cases, it is in the best interest of the child to have both parents involved in his/her life. Kansas courts will determine the best interests of the child after consideration of 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 thereto
- The desires of the child
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents
- The child’s home, school and community
- The willingness and ability of each parent to respect and appreciate the bond between child and other parent
- Evidence of spousal abuse
The court may order joint or sole legal custody and may set up residency plans that provide for sole or joint physical custody, based upon the best interests of the child. Joint legal custody means that both parents have equal rights when it comes to making decisions regarding the child (in matters of education, health care, religious upbringing, etc.). This is different from physical custody, which addresses the issue of where the child will live.
Depending on the proximity of the two parents’ homes, it may be preferable and even necessary to award sole physical custody to one parent with visitation for the other parent. It is necessary for the child to have a stable environment and to go to school, so the child must have one permanent address, which will determine where he/she goes to school.
A plan for visitation will then be made to allow the child a fair amount of time with both parents. For example, if the distance between the parents makes it inconvenient or even impossible for the child to get to school from one of the homes, the child may live with one parent during the school year and with the other parent during breaks from school such as summer/winter/spring breaks, weekends and holidays.
If you can come to an agreement on child support with the other parent, this is always the preferred option. But just as you could not always see eye-to-eye with your spouse before, you may not be able to do so now that so many important issues are on the table.
The Kansas legislature has established child support guidelines that determine the presumptive correct amount of child support. Deviation from the guidelines require a specific finding by the court that application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate and such findings must be included in the judgment.
The court may order that either or both spouses and/or their children be interviewed by a court approved counselor to determine whether counseling is needed with regard to custody, residency, visitation or parenting time.
The court may order either or both parents to attend parent education classes and may also order mediation if the parents are unable to resolve issues and agree to a parenting plan.
The court, upon granting a final judgment of divorce, may allow a party to resume the use of their former name.