Life comes at you fast, and the butterflies dancing around your stomach at your wedding ceremony could quickly become knots. Luckily, even sour marital vows can be undone when they have become a cage for one or both spouses. I have created this guide to help you get familiar with all the aspects and legal requirements of getting a Kansas divorce.
Divorce in Kansas Summary
Here is a brief breakdown of everything you need to know to get a divorce in Kansas.
Divorce Petition Requirements
In Kansas, residency is the most important requirement for filing a divorce petition. According to Kansas law, one or both spouses must reside in the state for a minimum of 60 days before the filing spouse files the divorce petition.
How to File A Divorce in Kansas
Filing a divorce petition officially begins the dissolution of your marriage. The specific forms to file will be determined by the type of divorce sought.
The Civil Information Sheet, the Domestic Relations Affidavit, a parenting plan (if there are minor children), and the petition for divorce are the basic divorce forms required to begin a divorce action.
After you have filed all necessary documents with the district court, the next step is to serve a copy of all divorce papers on the respondent. Serving your spouse is required and must be done correctly in order for the court to give your spouse a fair hearing.
Under Kansas law, there are a few different ways you can do this.
Your spouse may file a response or request that you file a detailed statement of facts or grounds for the petition after receiving your divorce papers.
Your spouse has the right to respond to the divorce petition by filing an Answer to respond to the claims in the petition and raise new issues.
The purpose of the pre-trial conference is to resolve preliminary divorce issues. The judge invites both parties or your legal representatives to discuss the most relevant issues in your divorce case, including any agreement and disagreement on divorce issues.
This is the final step in your divorce, and it entails one or both of you calling evidence to prove your claims.
The judge can review the settlement agreement during an uncontested divorce hearing to ensure it is just and fair to both parties.
Depending on the unresolved issues between the petitioner and the respondent, contested divorces may require more court appearances.
A divorce decree is an order issued by the court at the final divorce hearing to end your marriage.
You must bring the Decree of Divorce form and copies of other required documents to the final hearing. You and your partner, or an attorney, can fill out the divorce decree.
This completes the divorce process in Kansas.
Requirements for Filing a Divorce Petition in Kansas
The first thing to consider when filing for divorce in Kansas is eligibility. The primary requirement for filing a divorce petition in Kansas is residency. Kansas law requires one or both spouses to live in the state for a minimum of 60 days before the filing spouse files the divorce petition.
A military member stationed at a US post situated in Kansas can also legally pursue a divorce in the state after residing within it for at least 60 days.
If both spouses live in Kansas, the law does not require you to live in the same residence before filing for a divorce. The residency requirement gives the court authority over your divorce case.
The Kansas Divorce Process
When you file for divorce in Kansas, you are the petitioner in the case proceedings, and your spouse will be known as the respondent in the case. The divorce process begins with filing the relevant forms at the appropriate district court. What constitutes the relevant forms depends on the circumstances of your divorce. For instance, if you and your spouse have minor children, you will need to file the Divorce with Minor Children form to kickstart your divorce process.
The forms may also vary depending on whether you are filing for a contested or uncontested divorce. In Kansas, some counties may require you to file additional forms alongside the divorce petition. It may take time to track all these forms, but you can consider using an online divorce service to simplify the filing procedure.
These steps will put you through the detailed procedure of filing for divorce at a Kansas court:
Step 1: Filing the divorce paperwork
Filing a divorce petition officially kicks off your marital dissolution process. The specific forms to file will depend on the type of divorce you seek. However, the basic divorce forms required to begin a divorce action are the Civil Information Sheet, the Domestic Relations Affidavit, a parenting plan (if there are minor children), and the petition for divorce.
While each county court may have its own set of forms, some of them apply to all divorce actions. The documents needed to begin a divorce action in Kansas are available on the Kansas Judicial Council website.
Which specific documents you’ll need will also depend on your divorce issues, such as if you’re filing with a minor child. You can pick between the “Divorce Without Minor Children” packet or the “Divorce With Minor Children” packet. If your divorce is uncontested, you’ll also need to file a settlement agreement detailing the terms of your divorce.
Note that these packets may not entirely deal with your divorce situation. It is best to check with the court staff in the county you are filing in to confirm the divorce forms needed for your situation. If you choose to represent yourself, you can also use the divorce resource page on the Kansas Legal Services website to understand more about completing the necessary forms.
Upon preparing the necessary documents, you can file them and pay the filing fees required at the district court location where you or your spouse live. Kansas District Courts have jurisdiction over divorce cases, so you must ensure you file at the appropriate location. You can locate the district court to file your petition for divorce on the Kansas Judicial Branch website, which also doubles as the venue for the proceedings of your divorce case.
Step 2: Serving the divorce documents
After filing the necessary documents at the district court, the clerk will give you a case number. The next step is to serve the respondent a copy of all the divorce papers. Serving your spouse is mandatory and must be carried out correctly, as the court needs to give your spouse a fair hearing.
Under Kansas law, you can deliver the divorce papers to your spouse through any of the following methods:
- You can use the sheriff’s service by completing a Request for Service Form to have the Sheriff deliver the divorce papers. You must pay the prescribed service fee. Furthermore, you will fill out the In-State Summons form if your spouse lives in Kansas or the Out of State Summons form if your spouse lives elsewhere.
- You may also decide to use a certified mail service to mail the divorce papers, which must also include the summons, to your spouse’s last known residential address. Upon delivery, obtain the return receipt of the certified mail and file it with the clerk.
- If you do not know where your spouse lives, you can carry out the divorce notification through a newspaper publication. Accomplish this by filing an Affidavit for Service by Publication to get a signed Order Allowing Service by Publication from the judge. After publishing the notice, obtain proof of publication from the newspaper and file it with the clerk.
Your spouse may acknowledge receipt of the divorce papers by signing a Voluntary Entry of Appearance form in front of a recognized notary and filing the same with the clerk. Note that the service through the publication process is only permissible if the other methods are not feasible due to a lack of knowledge of your current address or the location of your spouse.
NOTE: This step is usually skipped in an uncontested divorce since both spouses file a joint petition.
Step 3: Response from your spouse
Upon receiving your divorce papers, your spouse may file a response or request you to file a detailed statement of facts or grounds of the petition. Your spouse also has the right to reply to the petition for divorce by filing an Answer to react to the claims in the petition and raise new matters.
Your spouse must serve their Answer to give you an idea of your spouse’s stance. Similar to filing a divorce petition, the additional forms filed as well as the Answer will depend on the divorce situation. The respondent can also file a counterclaim, asking the court to grant them a divorce. Where your spouse defaults (doesn’t file a response to the petition), the court will still require you to prove your case—divorce decrees aren’t given in default.
Step 4: Pre-trial conference
The next step in your divorce proceeding is the pre-trial conference. The purpose of the pre-trial conference is to settle preliminary issues related to the divorce. Here the judge invites both parties or your legal representatives to discuss the paramount issues of the divorce case, including any agreement and disagreement on divorce issues.
For instance, both spouses may agree on a child custody arrangement but disagree on how to share marital property. Some courts may recommend marriage counseling to attempt resolution before the final court hearing. Temporary orders of custody, alimony, dates of the court hearings, important deadlines, and the timeline for the case will also be scheduled, including a trial date. The court will conduct the conference within 45 days after the respondent files an Answer.
Step 5: The divorce hearing
This is the penultimate step of your divorce and involves one or both spouses calling evidence to prove your claims. In an uncontested divorce hearing, the judge can review the settlement agreement to ensure it is equitable and fair to both parties.
Contested divorces may have more court hearings depending on the unresolved concerns between the petitioner and the respondent. Cases that go to trial involve the attorney of both parties or a self-represented party presenting their case to the judge alongside any evidence or witnesses. Ultimately, the judge will listen to both sides and make the final decision.
Step 6: The divorce decree
A divorce decree is an order the court makes at the final divorce hearing to terminate your marriage. You have to bring the Decree of Divorce form and copies of other necessary documents with you to the last hearing. The divorce decree may be filled by you and your spouse or by an attorney.
When you present the proposed Decree of Divorce to the judge for signature, the judge may ask some questions. These questions may focus on the content of your petition for divorce, the grounds for the dissolution, and your opinion on the proposed resolution. After the judge signs the decree, file the original copy with the clerk, then deliver a copy of the stamped document to your spouse.
If you need help with your divorce . . .
You can rely on online divorce services to assist you with your divorce to help overcome legal complexities you may encounter when filing for divorce in Kansas. I have ranked the best online divorce services in the country and provided a detailed review of online divorce services available in Kansas.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to get a divorce in Kansas?
The timeline to obtain a divorce decree in Kansas depends on the circumstances of your case. The primary factor in determining how long your divorce will take is whether your petition is for a contested or uncontested divorce. However, the Kansas court will not hear any action for divorce until 60 days have passed since the filing of the divorce petition. The mandatory 60 days waiting period applies to all divorce cases except if waived by the court for emergency reasons.
The emergency divorce process waives the mandatory 60-day waiting period and allows the court to dispose of your case faster. The grounds for requesting an emergency divorce proceeding may include domestic violence or immediate need for financial aid. There will be a hearing where the judge may grant your request upon confirming that there is indeed an emergency. At the hearing, you will need to show evidence that there is indeed a need for emergency proceedings. If denied, both parties must wait for 60 days to pass before the first court hearing.
In an uncontested divorce case, the proceedings are finalized immediately after the waiting period. Uncontested divorces have fewer complications, leading to a faster disposition if both parties have little to no disagreements. For uncontested cases, it may take a few weeks to over a month for the judge to sign the decree. However, the court’s caseload may determine the availability of the judge to sign the decree of divorce.
A contested divorce timeline may vary depending on the number of issues to resolve. If a divorcing couple cannot part on agreeable terms, the court is left to make the decisions. The divorce may take longer due to proceedings on child custody, child support, spousal support, and any other legal action involved. Litigation in a contested divorce can go on for years in some cases.
What are the different types of divorce in Kansas?
The two types of divorce in Kansas are contested and uncontested divorce cases. Uncontested divorces are faster and have fewer complications than in a contested case because the divorcing couple will have a settlement agreement containing the dissolution’s terms.
For instance, divorcing spouses may make a property division agreement to share marital assets. They may also deliberate on child custody and visitations to create a parenting plan the court will enforce.
However, both spouses may agree on some divorce terms while contesting other issues. In such instances, the court may recommend marriage counseling to help the parties negotiate the divorce terms and draft a mutual agreement. Attorneys also assist with the negotiation of a divorce agreement. After filing the agreement, the judge presiding over the case will review the terms in the agreement, then grant it or make new decisions.
In a contested divorce, the judge has the authority to make sole decisions on all unresolved matters brought before the court. It is common for spouses to have different opinions on divorce issues when they split up. Each party looks out for their best interests, which may clash and result in a conflict. The court settles all divorce issues according to Kansas law, and each party has the opportunity to argue their case at the trial hearing before the judge pronounces the final decisions.
Do I need an attorney to get a divorce in Kansas?
No, Kansas law does not require you to hire an attorney to get a divorce. Many people hire attorneys to protect their interest in a divorce action and also assist with the legal process involved. An attorney may help draft any legal document required and brief you on your legal rights and obligations in a divorce case. In Kansas, it is illegal for individuals not licensed to practice law to advise someone on their legal rights and duties.
However, you can also decide on a pro se representation, meaning you handle your case without the help of an attorney. Kansas Legal Services offers self-help resources to assist you if you choose to represent yourself in a Kansas divorce. In addition to the self-help materials provided by Kansas legal services, you may consult an online divorce service to handle the marital dissolution on your behalf.
Do I have to prove separation to get a divorce In Kansas?
No, you do not have to prove separation to get a divorce in Kansas. Instead, the residency duration of either you or your spouse determines if you can get a divorce in Kansas. You or your spouse must have been a Kansas resident for a minimum of 60 days before filing for a divorce.
However, it is not uncommon for parties to file for a legal separation before seeking a final divorce order. A legal separation allows you to live apart from your spouse without being liable for desertion or abandonment. Separation also frees you from material marital duty, such as cohabitation and intimacy.
While separation may be proof of your marriage being irreconcilable, it doesn’t amount to a divorce decree. While both proceedings have similar requirements, the difference is that in a legal separation, the parties remain married, but a divorce decree ends your marital relationship.
As in a divorce, a couple can also have a separation agreement that discusses the terms of the separate maintenance, or you can ask the court to resolve any conflict under the law. However, parties don’t need to approach the district court before separating, as you may both decide to live apart without sexual relations without an order of legal separation.
Can I get a divorce in Kansas if I was married in another state?
Yes. The state in which you were married doesn’t matter when seeking a divorce in Kansas. If your union is legally valid, you can get a divorce in Kansas if either you or your partner meets the residency requirement. Anyone can also terminate a common law marriage in Kansas after residing in the state for at least 60 days.
Is spousal fault necessary for the dissolution of marriage in Kansas?
No. You don’t need to prove spousal fault to leave your marriage in Kansas. Under Kansas law, a divorce can be on either fault grounds or no-fault grounds. Kansas law allows filing a no-fault divorce petition where spouses no longer see a future together.
A no-fault divorce process implies that your decision to leave your marriage is not due to your partner’s misconduct. Here are the acceptable no-fault divorce in Kansas:
- Incompatibility because of mental illness or the mental incapacity of either or both parties
For the ground of incompatibility due to mental illness or mental incapacity, the court will require proof shown in either of the following ways:
- Confinement of the spouse experiencing mental illness in a mental institution for an aggregate of two years
- A judgment by a court with relevant jurisdiction confirms the mental illness or mental incapacity of such a spouse housed in a mental institution
In either case, the court will appoint three physicians to assess the chances of the spouse’s recovery from the mental illness or mental incapacity and accept this no-fault ground if at least two of the three appointed physicians confirm a poor recovery prognosis.
Kansas also allows you to plead fault-based grounds in your divorce petition. Filing for divorce on fault-based grounds means your reason for leaving the marriage is spousal misconduct. However, you must prove the spousal fault in court, and the other party can also argue that your claim is false. The sole acceptable fault ground for divorce in Kansas is if a spouse fails to perform a material marital duty or obligation.
What factors influence alimony and child support payments?
In a Kansas divorce, the court may order a spouse to pay alimony, also known as maintenance, to support the other spouse for a reasonable time. Such an order may be a lump sum, periodic payments, or a percentage of the paying spouse’s income. However, the duration of a continuous alimony payment shall not exceed 121 months, unless the court awards additional support afterward. Spousal support payments aim to enable the receiving spouse to gain employment or improve their income-earning capacity through education.
The court considers the following factors when awarding alimony:
- The age and health condition of both spouses
- The financial status of each spouse
- The duration projected for the dependent spouse to get suitable employment for self-support
- Length of the marriage and standard of living that the spouses maintained during this period
- Contribution of each spouse to their marital relationship
- The ability of the paying spouse to meet personal needs while paying spousal support
- Other factors the court may consider
Child support in Kansas is the responsibility of both parents. Regardless of the custodial arrangement, the court can order either party to pay child support and take care of the education expenses of a child under 18. However, child support will still be valid for a child older than 18, but not more than 19 years old, who is still in high school. Both parents can agree to keep paying child support beyond the required age.
The court must follow the Kansas child support guidelines to determine how much either or both parents will pay.
These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Necessities of the child
- The parents’ standard of living and other related circumstances
- Financial buoyancy of each parent
- Income capacity of each parent.
- Educational needs and the prospect of the child
- The age of the child
- If the child has financial resources and income
- If each parent is paying support obligation(s) to others
- Other valuable non-monetary contributions by both parents
How are marital assets divided in a Kansas divorce?
Property division is a common issue that divorcing spouses must resolve. Spouses can create a property division agreement to share the marital property on equitable terms or rely on the court’s resolution. Kansas is an equitable distribution state, meaning the court considers both spouses’ income and financial standing in property division.
The assets to be divided include real and personal property of both spouses, including retirement plans, regardless of when or how they acquired it.
To equitably divide the property, the court shall consider the following:
- The age of each spouse
- Length of the marriage
- All the property that the spouses have
- Current income size or possible income of each spouse
- Details of the acquisition of the property
- Family responsibilities
- Spousal support paid by a spouse or the lack of it
- Dissipation of assets
- Tax implication of sharing the property in regards to the economic circumstances of each spouse
- Other factors that the court considers necessary to divide the property reasonably
If leaving your spouse is the necessary next step to your happiness, Kansas law offers a straightforward divorce process to end your marriage in the state. This guide contains instructions on getting a divorce with no hassles and more information on what to expect during the legal process.