Over the last decade, the Sunflower State has been experiencing a declining trend when it comes to divorce rates. It started in 2011 at 3.9 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants, which went down to 1.8 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants in 2020. The trend deviated in 2021 when the divorce rate rose very slightly from 1.8 to 1.9. But, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, Kansas still ranked fifth among the states with the lowest divorce rates in the same year.
Even so, there were still 5,314 divorces in Kansas in 2021. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment tracked that marriage dissolutions affected 4,667 minor children, and 45.9% of 2021’s divorces involved at least one minor child.
Going through a divorce typically represents some of the most trying times in people’s lives. The legal procedures that come with pursuing a divorce may become a source of undue stress, so it is important for all the parties involved to have a better understanding of how divorce works in Kansas. This article will discuss the filing process for a divorce, go through the possible legal alternatives to ending a marriage, and answer commonly asked questions related to divorce.
Divorce vs. Annulment vs. Legal Separation in Kansas
Kansas residents who are seeking relief from a failed or unhappy marriage have three options: divorce, annulment, or legal separation.
Divorce is a legal procedure that permanently terminates a marriage. A divorce may be contested or uncontested. In a contested divorce, there is a disagreement between the spouses regarding key issues in their post-divorce arrangements or settlements. Conversely, in an uncontested divorce, both parties have reached a consensus on the key issues that must be settled after a divorce.
Those planning to get a divorce in Kansas must have been residing within the state for at least 60 days. Divorced spouses must also observe the 30-day mandated waiting period after their divorce has been approved by the court before remarrying.
An annulment voids a marriage as though it never happened and is applicable to marriages that are considered invalid. The following situations can serve as legal grounds for an annulment in Kansas:
Underage spouses who are 16 or 17 years of age can only have an annulment if they have no parental or judicial approval for the marriage.
Mental illness is also grounds for an annulment, but only under the condition that the spouse had already been suffering from a mental illness at the time of marriage and did not understand that they were getting married. Annulment is not applicable in cases wherein the mental illness had only developed after the marriage.
Due to the legal implications of annulment, there is no waiting period for those who want to remarry right away. There is also no residency period required to file an annulment in Kansas.
Legal separation is an alternative to divorce, wherein a separate maintenance agreement is established between spouses, but they remain legally married. It is a viable option for couples under the following circumstances:
Their religion prohibits divorce;
They wish to preserve some marital advantages that may be negatively impacted in the event of a divorce, such as insurance or retirement benefits;
They want to see if living apart would be enough in their situation, which would aid in deciding if they should eventually proceed with a divorce;
They want to spare their children from the trauma of a divorce.
The separation agreement in this procedure typically addresses child custody and parenting time arrangements, property and debt distribution, and alimony.
Legal separation in Kansas is reversible. The same residency requirement for divorce is applied for a legal separation, but unlike in a divorce, neither spouse is allowed to remarry during the period of their legal separation.
Is Kansas a No-Fault State When It Comes to Divorce?
Kansas allows both “no-fault” and “fault” divorces, although a majority of the divorces within the state can be categorized as no-fault. The following serve as legitimate grounds for granting a divorce:
Failure to perform a material marital duty
Incompatibility due to mental incapacity of one or both spouses
A motion for divorce on the grounds of incompatibility will be considered a no-fault divorce, while a divorce raised due to the two other grounds will be considered a fault divorce.
In a Kansas no-fault divorce, all that is required is proof that you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have been legally separated for at least two years or that both of you agree that you have irreconcilable differences. In a fault divorce, the aforementioned grounds apply.
Fault in a divorce is usually discussed during property division. Child custody and spousal support disputes are also reasons why some people may want to establish fault in a divorce.
How to File for Divorce in Kansas
When filing for divorce in Kansas, you must keep in mind that the steps and legal considerations may differ based on whether you have a child or not.
1. Filling Out All the Required Forms
Depending on the circumstances of your divorce, there may be several forms you need to fill out during the initial filing process. The most basic ones include the Civil Information Sheet, the Domestic Relations Affidavit, and the Petition for Divorce, with children or without children. Keep in mind that the Petition for Divorce must be signed in front of a notary public. The Parenting Plan is also required for divorce cases with children.
Optional forms are listed as follows:
Self-Represented Litigant Certification Form. Required if you will not bring a lawyer to the court proceedings.
Poverty Affidavit. Applicable if you are unable to pay the filing fee.
2. Giving Legal Notice to Your Spouse and Submitting the Forms
You must decide how you will give legal notice to your spouse, which can be done through one of the following methods:
Voluntary Entry of Appearance
Personal Service by Sheriff - You may be required to pay a service fee.
Service by Return Receipt
Publication - This is applicable if you do not have a way to give legal notice to your spouse.
Once you have decided on one of the above methods, you must fill out the Summons and Request and Service Instructions Form. After that, you may file your completed documents with the Clerk of the District Court’s Office and pay the filing fee.
3. Before the Court Hearing
You must get in touch with the Clerk of the District Court to determine the hearing date and time for your divorce. Once you have obtained this information, file a Notice of Hearing with the Clerk of District Court’s office. You must also send a file-stamped copy of the Notice of Hearing to your spouse. You will also have to file a Return of Service by Return Receipt to prove to the court that you have sent the Notice of Hearing to your spouse.
Prior to the hearing, obtain at least two copies of the Decree of Divorce (with children or without children) and leave one copy blank. You are required to complete the case caption, and you may also fill out the Order Changing Name section if you wish to change your name after the divorce. You may also fill out the “Personal Property & Debts” and “Real Estate” sections, but only if you do not have any disagreements on these matters.
4. Court Hearing and Finalizing the Divorce
On the date of the final divorce hearing, do not forget to bring the following:
Copies of any previously filed documents;
Any documents you received from your spouse, as well as any written property and debt division arrangements bearing both of your signatures;
The accomplished Vital Statistics Worksheet.
During the hearing, the judge may ask questions about the details you have presented in your Petition for Divorce, as well as your proposed agreements about your children and properties.
After the judge has signed the original divorce decree, either the Clerk of the District Court or the judge’s assistant will file-stamp the decree. Both you and your ex-spouse must obtain a file-stamped copy of the decree.
How Property is Divided in a Kansas Divorce
When it comes to the division of property following a divorce, Kansas follows the equitable distribution principle. Compared to states that follow the community property doctrine, wherein a 50-50 split is common, equitable distribution states divide assets based on each spouse’s contribution.
Kansas courts take certain factors into consideration when dividing property, such as:
The age and earning capacity of each spouse;
The tax consequences on each spouse;
The property owned by each spouse, and how such properties have been acquired;
The length of the marriage.
The court may also take into consideration any instances of “dissipation of assets” caused by either spouse. Dissipation of assets encompasses acts such as committing fraud, excessive spending, gambling addiction, and refusal to work.
One must also keep in mind that all properties that each spouse owns, including ones they owned before marriage, will be subject to division. In other words, the court does not recognize the difference between separate and marital property during a divorce.
Kansas Divorce FAQs
There are several legal factors involved when filing for divorce in Kansas, and these factors can become more complicated in contested cases. This section will answer some of the common inquiries about the divorce process in Kansas.
Legal Resources for Getting a Divorce in Kansas
Kansas Legal Services
Kansas Legal Services is a statewide non-profit organization that assists low-income Kansans. KLS provides mediation solutions for resolving divorce-related disputes, such as child support, custody, and Child in Need of Care cases. You may get in touch with their Wichita and Topeka mediation office representatives through the following contact information:
Address: 712 S. Kansas Ave., Suite 200, Topeka, KS 66603
Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence
From its founding in 1982, the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence has been working on its mission to curb sexual and domestic violence. It gives voice to victims and survivors and raises public awareness through community initiatives. KCSDV also has 25 coalition member programs that provide services such as rehabilitation and temporary shelters for domestic violence victims. You can reach out to KCSDV through its crisis hotline at 888-363-2287.
Kansas Department for Children and Families
The Kansas Department for Children and Families offers a variety of services that may be suitable for individuals who are planning to have or have just had a divorce. Those who need help enforcing a child support order can get in touch with the department’s Child Support Service Center by calling 1-888-757-2445. It also provides adult protective services, and concerned citizens can contact the Kansas Protection Report Center at 1-800-922-5330 to help possible victims of domestic abuse.
Step into the world of Expertise.com, your go-to hub for credible insights. We don't take accuracy lightly around here. Our squad of expert reviewers, each a maestro in their field, has given the green light to every single article you'll find. From rigorous fact-checking to meticulous evaluations of service providers, we've got it all covered. So feel free to dive in and explore. The information you'll uncover has been stamped with the seal of approval by our top-notch experts.