How to get divorced in Kansas

Tags: Kansas, Online Divorce

Image: Tracy Tucker / iStock

By Valerie Keene

Published Jul 27, 2022

Kansas divorce requirement

  • You or your spouse needs to have lived in Kansas for at least 60 days before filing for divorce

  • You must file the Petition for Divorce in the District Court of the county where either your spouse or you live.

  • Once you have served your spouse the papers, you must wait for a period of 60 days before your case can go to trial.

Grounds for divorce

The Divorce Petition must state the grounds on which you are seeking divorce in Kansas. The district court grant divorce on the following grounds:

No-Fault Grounds

Incompatibility, which means that neither your spouse nor you did anything that is legally wrong and both of you just want to separate.

Fault-Based Grounds

  • Failure of the spouse to perform a material obligation or duty.

  • Incompatibility due to mental incapacity or mental illness of one or both the spouses.

The ground of incompatibility due to mental incapacity or mental illness of one/both spouses requires:

  • The confinement of the spouse in an institution due to mental illness for 2 years and there is no need for continuous confinement.

  • Decision of mental incapacity or mental illness of a spouse by a court while the spouse is in an institution, confined for mental illness.

Step 1: Starting your Kansas divorce

For divorce in Kansas, the following documents must be completed by the spouse filing for divorce. Here are some of the important documents, although you may need to fill additional forms, depending on your situation.

Documents Needed for Filing for Divorce

  • Civil Information Sheet: This identifies both spouses, the kind of action, the children and the lawyers of both parties.

  • Petition for Divorce (Without or With Children): This identifies both spouses, their children (if applicable), the marriage history, the grounds for divorce and relief sought.

  • Summons: Informs the respondent spouse that he/she has 20 days in which he/she must file an answer (30 days if he/she is served outside the state) or he/she must face default judgment against him/her.

  • Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service: This is signed by the respondent when he/she waives the service of the divorce papers.

  • Domestic Relations Affidavit: Has the profile of the situation of the couple, their children, income and expenses, finances, etc.

  • Parenting Plan: This is either temporary or permanent and ascertains the terms and conditions of child custody, visitation, etc.

  • Child Support Worksheet: Has the details of the calculations for child support which is paid by the non-custodial parent.

  • Notice of Final Hearing: This informs the respondent about the final hearing.

  • Decree of Divorce: When the Decree of Divorce is signed by the judge, the marriage ends.

  • Certificate of Divorce: This enters the divorce of the couple into the state’s records for the purpose of the vital statistics of the state.

Filing Your Forms

When you have completed all the forms, make 2 copies of the same. The original must be filed with the court, one copy must be served on your spouse and you must keep one copy for your records.

You can then go to the local courthouse where either you or your spouse live and file the documents with the court clerk, who will stamp the documents with the date of filing and assign a case number, which must be written on all the documents.

Along with the papers, you must pay a filing fee and if you cannot afford it, you can submit a Poverty Affidavit, which will be reviewed by the judge. If the judge decides to waive all the fees, then you don’t have to pay the fee.

Step 2: Serving your spouse

After the documents are prepared and filed in the court, you must serve the documents on your spouse immediately. “Service of process” is an extremely important procedure in the us legal system, which ensures that everyone knows what is going on and no one is ambushed.

If your spouse is pro se i.e. does not have a lawyer, then you must serve the papers at his/her home address directly. However, if your spouse has hired a lawyer, then you must serve the lawyer at his/her office and you must not send the copies of the papers to your spouse.

If you are serving the divorce petition and the summons on your spouse, then there are special service rules that apply and you must use one of the following options to inform your spouse that you have filed for divorce.

  • You can get a “Voluntary Entrance of Appearance” form from your spouse, which he/she must sign before a notary.

  • You can have the papers delivered by the sheriff’s department by filling the “Request for Service” form. In case your spouse resides outside the Kansas state, you must follow the service rules of that specific state and fill the “Out of State Summons” form.

  • The petition and summons can also be mailed by certified mail with a return receipt requested. When you receive the return receipt, you must file it with the court clerk.

All the other documents pertaining to the divorce can be delivered via hand delivery or by first class mail. If you are not able to locate your spouse or if your spouse is serving in the military, is in jail or out of state, different service rules apply, which you can check with the court clerk.

Step 3: contested or uncontested?

Contested Divorce (High Costs)

If your spouse and you agree on any of the issues of divorce such as division of marital property and debts, alimony, child custody, child support and visitation, etc., then your divorce will be considered as a contested one and it will go to trial.

And, if you do not agree about any terms pertaining to your children, then you will necessarily have to hire a licensed attorney to represent your case in court.

Uncontested Divorce (Low Costs)

An uncontested divorce in Kansas means that both your spouse and you agree on all the issues such as division of marital property and debts, alimony, child custody, child support and visitation, etc.

You can get an uncontested divorce in the state only if you meet the residency requirements mandated by the state of Kansas and your spouse and you must also agree on the grounds for divorce.

Step 4: Do it yourself or get a lawyer?

DIY divorce Papers (Slower & Least Costly)

Although this is the least costly, there are some frustration that come with figuring out what paperwork you need for your specific situation. Most of the these documents can be got online from the states website of the Kansas Judicial Council. Although these forms are official, you should double check with your local court and ensure that the judge will accept these forms.

Read the forms carefully and fill them, responding to all the questions completely and thoroughly. Fill the documents on a computer, if not, write legibly and neatly. You must fill the forms according to your situation – with minor children or without minor children.

Read the instructions thoroughly because they’ll guide you through the entire divorce process, and also will help you decide what forms you will require to download and complete additionally.

You must complete all the forms and then file them with the court clerk at your local courthouse with the appropriate filing fee.

Online Divorce Services (Fastest & Inexpensive)

If you are not planning to hire a lawyer and want to handle your divorce by yourself, but are not really sure of how to go about the entire process or have doubts regarding filling the necessary documents, then you can use an online divorce service.

All you need to do is answer a few questions about your marriage on the basis of which your forms will be prepared by the online service for a nominal fee, which you can file with the court along with the filing fee.

If your divorce is uncontested, you can start your divorce for as little as $84 with an online divorce service like 3StepDivorce and can have your finalized divorce forms in hours and not days

Attorney Divorce Trial (Longer & Expensive)

If your spouse and you cannot agree on some or all the issues of your divorce, then your case will go to trial, where a judge will hear your case. The judge will then go over the testimonies, evidence and witnesses presented by both sides and then make decisions regarding all the disputed issues. Divorce trials usually take a long time and are also very expensive.

If you and your spouse can avoid this route, it would be the best way for both of you to save money and time. If you only can’t agree on a few items, use a divorce mediator to help you both come to a reasonable and fair decision.

Step 5: Resolving The big issues

Property Division

The marital property is divided equitably, not equally, in the case of a divorce, since Kansas is an equitable distribution state. The court encourages both spouses to reach an agreement regarding the property and debt division or else, the court will decide the same.

The court will divide the personal and real estate property of both spouses including any retirement or pension plans owned by either of the spouses before marriage, got by either of the spouses in his/her own right after the marriage or was got by the joint efforts of both spouses by:

  • Property division in kind.

  • Awarding part of the property or the entire property to one spouse and requiring the other spouse to pay a fair sum.

  • Ordering that the property be sold under the conditions as prescribed by the court and then distributing the sale proceeds between both spouses.

When dividing the property, the court will consider the following:

  • The age of both spouses.

  • The length of the marriage.

  • Property owned by both spouses.

  • Current and future earning capacities of both spouses.

  • Source, time and manner in which the property was acquired.

  • Family obligations and ties.

  • Allowance for maintenance or the lack of it.

  • Dissipation of assets.

  • The tax consequences of the division of property based on the economic situation of each spouse.

  • Other relevant factors.

Learn more about property law and who gets what when filing for divorce.

Spousal Support

The spousal support – temporary or permanent is decided by agreement between both spouses or by the court at its discretion on a case-to-case basis. The court may award either spouse an allowance that it feels is just, fair and equitable for future support.

The future payments may be either modifiable or terminable according to the circumstances set in the decree. The court will, in any circumstance, not award maintenance for a period of more than 121 months.

If the original decree states that the court will hear motions subsequently for the reinstatement of the maintenance and the motion is filed before the time period of the payments expires, the court will then hear a motion by the spouse receiving maintenance to reinstate the maintenance payments.

Child Custody Laws

If there are minor children involved in the divorce, the court will do all that is possible to reduce the emotional trauma that the children could be experiencing. And, if both the parents are unable to decide on the issues pertaining to the children, then the court will decide the custody at its discretion according to the best interests of the child.

If the parents have agreed to a parenting plan, then the court assumes that this is in the best interests of the child. The court may pass a different order if it feels that the parenting plan is not in the best interests of the child. The court will consider the following factors in determining the custody, parenting time and residency of the child:

  • Duration of time that the child has been in the actual control and care of a person other than one of the parents and the circumstances pertaining to the same.

  • Desire of the parents regarding custody and residency of the child.

  • Wishes of the child regarding custody and residency.

  • Interrelationship and interaction of the child with his/her parents, siblings or any other significant person who can affect the child’s interests.

  • Adjustment of the child to his/her community, home and school.

  • Ability and willingness of each parent to appreciate and respect the bond between the other parent and the child and permit the continuing relationship between them.

  • Evidence of any spousal abuse.

Child Support

Child support guidelines in Kansas are based on the Income Shares Model that is used to calculate child support. The court will make provisions for the support, as well as the education of minor children. The court may modify or change any previous order within 3 years of the original or modification order when there is a change in the circumstances, regardless of the current domicile of the parents or child.

The court may order the payment of educational expenses and child support to be paid by either one or both parents for a minor child who is less than 18 years old.

When the child is 18, the support will terminate unless:

  • The parents have a written agreement that is approved by the court to pay the support even after the child is 18.

  • The child is 18 years before he/she completes high school education. In this case, the support will not stop automatically, unless the court orders otherwise, until the 30th of June of the school year when the child turned 18 years and was still attending high school.

  • The child is a bona fide student of high school after 30th June of the school year when the child turned 18, in which case, the court may order the support to be continued throughout the school year during which the child turned 19 years old, as long as the child is a high school student and both parents agreed to the decision which caused the delay in the child completing high school.

In deciding the amount of child support, the court will consider all the relevant factors, without favoring any marital misconduct including the financial needs and resources of both the parents, financial needs and resources of the child and the child’s physical and emotional condition.

Step 6: Finalizing your Kansas divorce

Once you have filed the proof of service with the court, the final hearing date will be assigned by the court. The final hearing date will only be after 60 days after the proof of service is filed, since Kansas state has a 60-day waiting period.

You can avoid going to trial or make your trial smoother if your spouse and you are able to come to an agreement on all the issues during the 60-day waiting period.

If you have a written agreement with your spouse on the various issues, then make sure that this is filed with the court. The judge may ask you questions about your agreement at the final hearing. If you submit a fully executed property settlement agreement and decree of divorce, which is signed by your spouse and you, then the judge may sign the final divorce order without a testimony. If you reside in Reno County, you must submit a short affidavit to the court instead of testifying.

If you don’t have an agreement on some of the issues, then your spouse and you can submit your claims to the court after the 60-day waiting period and the judge will then take a decision on all the issues and then sign the final divorce order.