Overview of Divorce Laws in Kansas
If you are getting a divorce in Kansas, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the laws.
This guide will give you an overview of how Kansas divorce laws work.
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s dive in.
What You’ll Learn:
- How the division of property is handled in a Kansas divorce
- How debts are divided
- How gifts and inheritances are treated
- How retirement plans and pensions get divided
- Kansas Alimony Laws
- Child Support Laws in Kansas
- How child custody works in Kansas
- The impact of substance abuse in a Kansas divorce
- What is a bifurcation of marital status and how does it work?
- How the disclosure obligations work in a Kansas divorce
- What happens if my spouse does not respond to the divorce petition?
- The impact of domestic violence
- What happens with health insurance during and after divorce
- How infidelity is treated in Kansas divorce laws
- Special considerations for military divorces in Kansas
How is the division of property handled in a Kansas divorce?
Kansas is an equitable distribution state, and this means courts will attempt to ensure marital assets are divided equitably, but not always equally, in a divorce.
Kansas state law provides that all property is marital property, regardless of how or when it was acquired. Judges consider the following when dividing property:
- the age of the parties
- the duration of the marriage
- the property owned by the parties
- each party’s present and future earning capacities
- the time, source, and manner of acquisition of property
- family ties and obligations
- the allowance of maintenance (alimony) or lack thereof
- any dissipation of assets
- the tax consequences of the property division upon the economic circumstances of the parties
- any other factors the court considers necessary to make a just and reasonable division of property
Learn More: Who Gets the House in a Divorce?
How are debts divided?
Debts are treated the same way as assets in a Kansas divorce. Debt acquired during a marriage is the responsibility of both parties, up to the date of separation, and both spouses are liable for repayment.
Debt is not necessarily divided on a 50-50 basis. Courts may take into account who was responsible for accumulating most of the debt, the ability of one party to pay debt more readily, and other factors. If one spouse takes control of a specific asset, such as a car, they may also be deemed responsible for making car payments.
How are gifts and inheritances handled in a Kansas divorce?
Under Kansas law, all of your property and your spouse’s property are eligible for equitable distribution.
That includes all property acquired before and during a marriage. As such, gifts and inherited property are not automatically protected, though courts often treat these assets differently.
Many factors are considered, but if the gift or inheritance came from someone you had a closer relationship with than your spouse, it is more likely that it will be given back to you.
Also, if the court finds that a gift or inheritance has been commingled, it may be impossible to determine if it is indistinguishable from marital property. That will often lead to a division of the asset among both spouses, as well.
How do retirement plans and pensions get divided in a divorce?
Just like all other assets in a Kansas divorce, pensions and retirement plans are subject to equitable distribution as well. A retirement account can be divided even when it was started before marriage and contributed to by only one spouse.
Determining the exact value of pensions and retirement accounts can be complicated. Often, a financial expert such as a pension evaluator or a certified divorce financial analyst may be required to make an accurate assessment.
Keeping a pension plan intact may require one spouse to give up interest in other equally valued assets, perhaps the family home, to balance the distribution.
Legally splitting retirement funds is a multiple-step process. After the court grants the divorce, an attorney must create a qualified domestic relations order, more commonly referred to as a QDRO.
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The courts must approve the QDRO, and then it can be submitted to the retirement plan administrator who must also approve it. That establishes that a spouse can be considered an alternate payee, and the asset is divided according to the specifics contained in the QDRO.
Kansas Alimony Laws
Many types of alimony can be awarded in Kansas.
General support is awarded when one spouse makes a much higher income than the other spouse.
Reimbursement support is awarded in cases where one spouse maintained the household while the other spouse pursued higher education goals.
Transitional support is awarded temporarily to allow a spouse to get training or education to obtain a job with sufficient income.
Courts consider several factors when determining alimony. That can include current income and assets, the ages of both spouses, skills, and employability, and others.
The length of a marriage is also an important factor. Courts generally use a formula not to exceed 121 months. The formula may vary from county to county, but typically, for marriages between zero and five years, alimony is usually awarded for half the length of the marriage.
For marriages longer than five years, the alimony period is two years plus one-third of the length of the marriage, up to 121 months.
More questions about money? Learn more here.
Child Support Laws in Kansas
Both parents are financially responsible for their minor children in Kansas. Kansas courts will consider several factors in determining the amount of support that is paid. That includes the financial resources and needs of both parents and the physical, emotional, and financial needs of the child.
Kansas has adopted guidelines to aid in these decisions, with a portion of each parent’s income allocated to the care of the child.
Child support continues until the child is 18. If the child turns 18 and is attending high-school, child support continues until June 30 of the school year when the child becomes 18.
Child support is generally made to the Clerk of the District Court of a court trustee because it is easier to enforce a child support order that way.
If a parent’s income changes significantly, it’s also possible to seek a modification of the amount of the payments. A parent who can’t pay child support in full should pay as much as possible. Then he or she should contact the court trustee or child support enforcement unit (CSEU) to make arrangements for the balance. That may be the case with a job loss or an extended illness.
Failure to pay can result in criminal penalties, including fines and jail time. Neglect or refusal to pay for the support of a child without a lawful excuse is a felony.
Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Child Support
Child Custody Laws in Kansas
All decisions regarding child custody in Kansas are made in the best interests of any child in the divorce. Courts strongly prefer that both parents take an active role and share in major decisions in a child’s upbringing.
In most cases, the child will live primarily with one parent, which is known as residential custody. He or she will spend time with the other parent on weekends, overnight, during holidays, and possibly extended summer stays. Joint custody means that a child spends close to equal amounts of time with each parent.
Sole custody can also be awarded and means that one parent makes all the significant decisions regarding the child’s upbringing and lives with that parent. The other parent may have some limited visitation rights. Sole custody generally takes place when one parent is not able to adequately care for the child. That may be the case if they suffer from mental incapacity, or they are incarcerated for an extended period.
Courts prefer that parents work out custody and visitation issues. When they cannot, the court will step in and make decisions instead. Sometimes mediation is ordered by the court to try and work out these differences.
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Courts will weigh many factors in making custody decisions. That will include each parent’s fitness as a parent, the psychological and emotional needs of the child, the existing relationship with each parent, the distance between each parent’s home, domestic violence issues, and other related factors.
What is the impact of substance abuse in a Kansas divorce?
While substance abuse cannot be cited as a direct ground for divorce in Kansas, it can still have an impact on a divorce case.
The most important element concerns child custody and visitation rights. The court will not put a child at risk, and if drug abuse is suspected, the court may deny or severely restrict custody and visitation privileges. Until the problem is resolved, visitation may only be allowed under court supervision.
If a spouse can prove that substance abuse drained marital assets to a considerable degree, this may also have an impact on property division.
If substance abuse is an issue, and you plan to use it in your divorce, you need to document the abuse as thoroughly as possible. Gather statements and evidence from law enforcement, social services agencies, family members, or others who can provide first-hand evidence and insights.
What is a bifurcation of marital status and how does it work?
Bifurcation means that both parties in a divorce can legally divide their divorce into two separate actions. Although many states do not allow this, Kansas has laws on the books that permit bifurcation to take place.
With bifurcation, a marriage is terminated without resolving issues that may have been sticking points, such as alimony or a division of assets. These are worked out in a different legal action at a later date.
What are the disclosure obligations in a Kansas divorce?
To fairly and equitably divide assets in a divorce, both sides must completely disclose all assets. That includes both marital and separate assets so that the court can have a complete picture of both spouse’s financial resources.
Some spouses may attempt to hide assets. But if they get caught (and they often do), they run the risk of being severely punished by the court. That may include charges of fraud or losing the assets in question completely.
If you suspect that a spouse has not accurately disclosed assets, a formal process known as “discovery” can be implemented. That forces the other spouse to produce the necessary documentation. In some cases, the issuance of a subpoena may be required to ensure compliance.
What happens if my spouse does not respond to the divorce petition?
When a spouse does not respond to a divorce petition after being served, a petitioner can seek a default judgment.
Kansas courts can enter a default judgment as soon as 60 days after you file divorce papers.
When the response is not filed, the court can also grant the relief you asked for in your original petition. That may include rulings on child custody, alimony, a division of assets, and other related issues.
A default judgment can be reversed if there is a good cause. That may be due to clerical errors, fraud, deception, or other problems. A spouse must make a motion to the court within a reasonable timeframe (one year or less) to request the reversal.
The exception to a default action is if a spouse is an active member of the U.S. military. In this case, their rights are protected until such time that they can devote the attention necessary to respond to the petition.
What role does domestic violence play in a Kansas divorce?
In marriages where domestic abuse is present, your immediate goal is to protect your safety and the safety of anyone else living with you who may be in danger. In an emergency, call 911.
That can include seeking protection from any kind of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, stalking, isolation, intimidation, or any other type of harassment, including those made through phone calls, mail, or social media. Domestic violence is not limited to spouses only. It can include any family members or persons staying at a particular residence.
You must take steps as soon as possible, including leaving your home and then seeking a protective order that will keep the abuser away from you.
Domestic violence can have a significant impact on certain aspects of the divorce. An abuser may not be allowed any child custody privileges or visitation may be granted but on a severely restricted and supervised basis.
Domestic violence victims can also contact the Kansas Coalition against Sexual and Domestic Violence to seek help with legal issues, referrals, and safety planning.
What happens with health insurance during and after divorce?
In general, courts require that parties maintain health insurance that is already in place in most cases while a divorce is in progress. If you cancel health insurance when a spouse normally gets coverage from you, then you could be held liable for medical bills if your spouse is injured or needs medical attention before you are divorced.
Once a divorce has been finalized, Kansas employers will not allow an ex-spouse to remain on a health insurance policy in most cases. The spouse will need to seek other coverage.
In some cases, payment of health insurance may be a part of the final settlement terms as part of alimony. Another option is to apply for COBRA benefits. This law that protects people from losing health coverage during significant life transitions. It allows you to continue with your spouse’s current coverage for up to 36 months as long as you pay the premiums. But this can be very expensive because an employer will no longer cover any portion of the premium.
When children are involved, divorce settlements almost always require that one or both spouses provide health insurance after the fact. If one spouse has health insurance through an employer, it may be possible to keep that coverage in place for the children as long as the cost is reasonable.
How are infidelity and adultery treated in Kansas divorce laws?
Infidelity and adultery are not cited reasons to get a divorce in Kansas.
However, in some instances, adultery can have an impact on alimony. But this is only in cases where conduct is so gross and extreme that the failure to penalize a spouse would be inequitable.
Are there any special considerations for military divorces in Kansas?
Some elements of a military divorce are the same as they are for civilian divorces in Kansas, but there are also some differences you need to know about as well.
Just as in a civilian divorce, one spouse must be a resident of Kansas for at least 60 days before filing initial paperwork. That can be more complicated than it sounds because service members are often stationed all over the world. Per Kansas statutes, a service member is considered to be a “resident” if they intend to move back to Kansas after their service.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003 eases many legal and financial burdens of military personnel while they are on active duty. For example, moving forward with a divorce can be delayed until after the completion of active duty. A service member can also choose to waive the delay and sign the paperwork allowing the divorce to proceed uncontested.