This is a complete guide to divorce in Kansas.
In this guide, you’ll get educated on exactly how divorce works in Kansas.
Specifically, we’ll cover the differences between divorce and legal separation, types of divorce, overview of the process, how much it costs, and a whole lot more.
So if you want to be fully prepared for the grueling divorce process, we’ve got you covered.
Without further ado, let’s dive in:
- Legal separation vs. divorce
- Annulment vs. divorce
- The grounds for divorce in Kansas
- What are your divorce options?
- How to file for divorce
- How to complete proof of service
- Can you file for divorce online in Kansas?
- Do you need an attorney to get a divorce?
- How much does a divorce cost?
- How long does it take?
- What is a bifurcation of marital status and is it allowed in Kansas?
- Can you refuse or contest a divorce?
- Can you cancel a divorce?
- What is a divorce decree?
- What is a divorce certificate?
- Changing Your Name
- Bonus: Recommended Resources for a Better Divorce
Legal Separation vs. Divorce in Kansas
A divorce is a permanent and legal end to your marriage. All issues are settled, and each spouse goes their separate way after a final divorce decree is approved by the courts.
Legal separation is an alternative to getting a divorce. The primary difference is that a legal separation does not actually end your marriage. In technical terms, your marital status remains “married” if you get a legal separation.
Many of the issues decided in a divorce are also decided in a legal separation. That includes dividing your assets and debts, child custody, alimony and child support. After these issues are resolved, a separation agreement will be issued and signed by both spouses.
A legal separation requires formal action with the court. To file for legal separation in Kansas, you or your spouse must be a resident of the state for at least 60 days.
Annulment vs. Divorce
An annulment might be another alternative to divorce in Kansas.
An annulment means that there was no valid marriage because specific legal requirements were not met. Annulments are allowed in Kansas and governed by laws in K.S.A. 60-1602.
Annulments are granted only in certain circumstances. For example, the marriage is legally void if one spouse is already married to someone else, they are not old enough to consent to marriage, or the spouses are so closely related to each other as to make the marriage incestuous.
Other reasons for annulment may include fraud, a mistake of fact, lack of knowledge of a material fact, or any other reason justifying the rescission of the marriage contract.
What are the grounds for divorce in Kansas?
Kansas allows both fault-based and no-fault divorces.
With a fault-based divorce, some form or marital misconduct must be present. Fault-based grounds for divorce in Kansas are not common because they are more challenging to prove, and the cited reasons are limited.
The only fault-based grounds that Kansas allows are:
- Failure to perform a “material” (relevant) marital duty
- Incompatibility because of the mental illness or mental incapacity of one or both spouses
Instead, most divorces are based on a no-fault model. That means that all one or both spouses must do is agree that they are incompatible and can no longer get along with each other. Specifics do not need to be cited.
What are your options for getting a divorce in Kansas?
It is in your best interest to fully understand all of your options when you are thinking about getting a divorce. The path that you ultimately take is determined by the relationship you have with your spouse.
Deciding whether to pursue an uncontested divorce in Kansas or attempting to negotiate a settlement through a cooperative effort of some sort could save you a lot of time and money. That makes it easier for you to transition to life as a single person.
Here are the types of divorce:
What I like to call the kitchen table divorce. This one is pretty straight forward. You don’t hire any professionals and attempt to resolve all your differences with your spouse. The biggest downside is you don’t know what you don’t know. I’d steer clear of this approach unless you don’t have kids or any money.
A far superior choice to DIY divorce. Navigating the divorce process and legal procedures can be a minefield. A good online divorce platform removes the guesswork. Through guided interviews, you’ll complete the forms while getting educated on the key legal issues in the process. This can be a great option if you have a relatively straightforward situation and you’re on the same page with your spouse.
The default option and also the most expensive. If you and your spouse can’t agree on one of the other options, then you’re headed for litigation. Litigation is an attorney-driven process. While the majority of cases settle before going to trial, that doesn’t mean litigation won’t wreak havoc on you and your kids.
Sometimes it’s the only viable option, however. If your spouse has a high-conflict personality (narcissist, borderline, etc.) or there is domestic violence, litigation might be your only option. It’s also the right choice if your primary objective is to punish your spouse. As tempting as that might be, I encourage you to think about the big picture.
With mediation, you and your spouse retain a neutral professional (typically an attorney) to help facilitate agreement. The mediator will help you brainstorm options, understand each other’s perspectives, and make compromises to reach a resolution that you and your spouse can both live with.
Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t just mean that you and your spouse are going to work out your divorce “collaboratively.” There’s much more to it. Collaborative divorce is a structured process that takes a team approach. Divorce is much more than a legal process. It’s about money, kids, and emotions.
That’s why a Collaborative team includes collaborative lawyers, a divorce coach, and a neutral financial specialist. Unlike any other process, everyone commits not to go to court. The idea is that this removes the threat of litigation which fosters creative solutions and interest-based negotiation. It’s far and away the most supportive type of divorce.
What is the process of filing for divorce in Kansas?
You can go through a divorce in Kansas several possible ways, but some basic things are the same no matter type of divorce you choose.
Gather important information. One of the smartest things you can do is to get organized early on in your divorce. There will be a lot of documents you will need to gather that are not only required but to also help your case to the highest degree possible.
Don’t assume you’ll be able to negotiate a fair settlement with your spouse if you don’t have accurate information. It’s simply not possible to make informed decisions without proper records.
Before you jump in to collecting financial information, take the following steps:
- Open a new checking and savings account in your name alone.
- Open a credit card in your name alone.
- Order a free credit report.
- Make a list of all the assets and liabilities that you’re aware of. Include any memberships, reward points, and other perks that may be considered as assets.
Okay, now it’s time to start gathering your information. Here’s a short-list of what you need:
- Tax returns (including W-2’s, K-1’s, and 1099’s) for the last 5 years
- Pay stubs for the last 3 months
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Retirement account statements
- Pension plan statements
- Grant notice for stock options, RSUs, etc.
- Investment account statements
- Life insurance policies
- Mortgage statements
- Real estate appraisals
- Deeds to real estate
- Car registration
- Kelley Blue Book printouts (“private party value”)
- Car loan statements
- Social security benefit statement
To see what you should focus on gathering, we’ve prepared a comprehensive Divorce Information Checklist. You can check it out here.
Complete the initial paperwork. You will need to complete several forms and submit them to the court in the county where either spouse resides. If you’re using an attorney, they will make sure you are using the right forms and that they are filled out correctly.
If you are filing an uncontested divorce, the Kansas Judicial Council has created packets of basic divorce forms for people who want to represent themselves. The Kansas Supreme Court has approved these forms.
There are two separate packets — one for filing an uncontested divorce without children, and another packet when the divorce includes minor children. To view the packets, go here.
There are several other types of divorce-related forms here.
File your forms. After you have completed your forms, you must start the legal process by filing them and paying a fee to the Clerk of the District Court in the county where you or your spouse lives. To ensure that Kansas has jurisdiction over your divorce, either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 60 days before filing paperwork with the court.
Completing proof of service in Kansas
After you file for divorce, you must notify your spouse. That is accomplished in several ways.
- Voluntary Entry of Appearance. Your spouse signs a Voluntary Entry of Appearance form in front of a notary public. That acknowledges receipt of the Petition for Divorce. The Voluntary Entry of Appearance with your spouse’s original signature is then filed with the Clerk.
- Sheriff’s Service. Fill out a Request for Service Form, requesting that the sheriff deliver the Petition for Divorce to your spouse. If your spouse lives in Kansas, you must pay a sheriff’s service fee. If your spouse lives in another state, it is your responsibility to find out the procedures required by the sheriff in that state and county and to pay any fees required.
- Certified Mail Service. Mail the summons and Petition for Divorce by certified mail – return receipt requested to your spouse at his or her last known residential address. File the “green” “return-receipt card” with the Clerk when you get it back.
- Publication. If you cannot provide notice of the divorce to your spouse through other means, then you may be able to provide notice by publishing a notice in a local newspaper. You must request permission to do so by filing the “Affidavit for Service by Publication” and obtain an order from the assigned judge allowing you to publish notice.
After you obtain the order, then you will publish a notice following the process set out in K.S.A. 60-307. You must get “proof of publication” from the newspaper and file the proof with the court.
Can you file for divorce online in Kansas?
It is possible to start the divorce process online in Kansas. There are several services, and many attorneys will work with you this way to save time and money.
Our favorite resource for a fast and effective online divorce is: 3 Step Divorce.
3 Step Divorce checks all the boxes that make an online divorce worthwhile.
They aim to make it easy – and they certainly deliver.
From step-by-step instructions to unlimited live support, here are just a few of the reasons why 3 Step is our #1 recommended online divorce resource:
- $299 flat-fee with no hidden charges
- Monthly payment options as low as $84/mo
- Initial questionnaire takes less than 1 hour
- Library of free tools and resources
- Unlimited access to support agents by phone or email
- Immediate access to completed forms
- Assurance of 100% court-approval (or your money back!)
3 Step Divorce also boasts the highest customer rating in the industry (4.6 stars based on 1,575 reviews).
You can learn more by reading our 3StepDivorce review.
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However, you will still need to file the paperwork in person at the appropriate courthouse. You will also eventually need to attend a divorce hearing to settle all the issues and finalize your divorce in front of a judge.
Do you need a lawyer for a Kansas divorce?
You can go through a divorce in Kansas without representation from a lawyer. That works best in an uncontested divorce where you can work out all the issues between you and your spouse.
If you have disagreements, even though you will incur legal fees, you should still seriously consider hiring an attorney to represent you.
How much does divorce cost?
Filing fees vary by county in Kansas but run between $100 to $200. Pay this fee to the clerk of the court at the time of filing. To find out the exact amount, contact the court in the county where you are going to file.
You will also need to pay a separate fee to have the documents officially served on your spouse. This can be done by a sheriff’s deputy, a process server, or by other means.
In some cases, if you meet the criteria, you can seek to have these fees waived. You will need to complete a Waiver of Filing Fee form and submit it to the court for consideration.
However, in a contested divorce, when attorneys need to get involved, expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $400 per hour, depending on the complexity of your case. Many attorneys may also ask for a retainer upfront before starting work on your behalf.
Another option is to use a mediator or an arbitrator. Fees will vary, but generally, range from $3,000 to $7,000.
Fully contested divorces with complicated alimony, child custody and support issues, and a large amount of assets to be divided can run into the tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, depending on the circumstances of the divorce.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Kansas?
After filing the paperwork with the court, an uncontested divorce will take anywhere from 30 to 90 days to be finalized. The actual time will depend on the caseload of the court and the availability of judges to sign a final Decree of Divorce.
Contested divorces with sizable disagreements and several issues to settle can easily take several months or as long as a couple of years.
What is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and do I need one?
Divorcing spouses in Kansas often retain a family law attorney to help them through the process. In simple cases, an attorney may be equipped to handle all aspects of the divorce, including the finances.
But if you have a degree of complexity to your financial situation, you might benefit from working with a divorce financial planning expert.
The best professional to help in these situations is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA), and preferably someone who is also a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).
A CDFA has specialized training in the financial and tax implications of divorce and can work with you to help you understand the pros and cons of your options.
What is a bifurcation of marital status and is it allowed in Kansas?
Bifurcation means that both parties in a divorce can legally divide their divorce into two separate actions.
Many states do not allow this, but Kansas does have 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. That can include alimony or a division of assets and are worked out in a different legal action at a later date.
Can I refuse or contest a divorce in Kansas?
No, you can’t force a person to stay married to you.
Can I cancel a divorce?
If you have initiated action by filing the Petition for Divorce, your case can be dismissed by petitioning the court to do so. That is done in writing by the filing spouse.
What is a divorce decree?
In Kansas, when a divorce is finalized, the court will issue a Decree of Divorce.
This legal document is a detailed summary of the rights and responsibilities of each party. It covers a division of assets, child custody, visitation, alimony, child support, and other similar issues.
If either party does not meet the requirements and obligations in the decree, legal action can be taken to correct any deficiencies.
Obtain certified copies of divorce decrees from the Clerk of the District Court in the county where the divorce was filed.
What is a divorce certificate?
A Kansas divorce certificate only has basic information on it, such as the names of both spouses and the date and place of a divorce.
It provides proof that a couple is no longer married. It can be used as documentation to complete name changes or to prove a person is single so that they can get married again.
Obtain certified copies from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Costs are $15 per certified copy, plus processing fees in some cases.
Changing Your Name
When preparing your divorce forms, you will be presented either an option to either restore your former name or request a court order for changing names.
The name change will be granted as part of your divorce. You may either receive a separate court order making your name change official, or else have your name change recorded on the final divorce decree. Either of these documents are accepted with all US agencies and organizations as evidence of your name change.
Your name change will not take effect just because you have a court order. You need to contact all your organizations to request your records are updated.
It takes a long time to reach out to each company and figure out what to send where, so we recommend using an Easy Name Change kit to cut out the 10+ hours of research and paperwork that follows.
Recommended Divorce Resources
Many divorce resources make big promises. We’ve tested a bunch of them. Most don’t make the mark. A few stand above the rest.
We’re thrilled to share these tools and resources with you because we’re sure that they can help you have a better divorce.
If you’re looking for recommendations in any of the following areas, we’ve got you covered:
- Online divorce
- QDRO preparation to divide retirement plans and pensions
- Masterclass on ninja tricks to negotiating with a narcissist
- Co-parenting apps
- Personal finance and budgeting apps
- Best place to sell your engagement ring
- And a whole lot more