Spousal Maintenance and Alimony in Kansas

Learn about Kansas alimony laws, the types of spousal support, and what factors a court considers.

Kansas Alimony

Alimony is a court-ordered payment from one spouse to another after divorce. The purpose is to help the supported spouse maintain the marital standard of living.

Whether you are the high-earner or low-earner, chances are you’re concerned about alimony.

In this guide, we’ll break down exactly what you need to know. Let’s dive in.

Who is Entitled to Alimony in Kansas?

In Kansas, alimony is also known as spousal support or maintenance.  Spouses can reach an agreement on alimony or either spouse can request an alimony order from the court. The judge will consider a number of factors when deciding whether or not to award spousal support and the appropriate amount. Most of these factors can be boiled down to need and ability to pay.

Types of Support in Kansas

There are several types of alimony in Kansas:

Interim support can be ordered during the period between the time when the separation and divorce are finalized.

General support may be awarded when one spouse’s income is significantly higher than the other spouse’s.

Reimbursement support may be awarded to pay back a spouse who provided significant financial support to the household while the other spouse pursued an education.

Transition support can be awarded to a spouse who needs time to pursue education or training to qualify for employment that will provide adequate income for that spouse following the divorce.

Maintenance is paid in several ways.  That may include a lump sum in one large payment or several installments, periodic payments over a set amount of time, on a percentage of earnings, or “on any other basis.”

Periodic maintenance paid monthly is the most common award.

Kansas is one of two states that limits how long an ex-spouse is required to pay spousal support.  It is limited to 121 months with a one-time extension of no more than 121 months.  Parties can agree between themselves for a more extended period.

Unless the couple agrees differently, the court will require the paying spouse to pay support directly to Kansas’s central unit for collection and disbursement of support payments.  The receiving spouse has to open an account and may choose to receive the monthly support payments as a check, direct deposit, or reloadable debit card.

The court will usually include an income withholding order to help facilitate payments. An income withholding order directs the paying spouse’s employer to deduct support payments from the employee’s paycheck.

Alimony calculations are determined on a case-by-case basis by Kansas family court judges. Some states have a fixed alimony calculation formula, but in Kansas, the amount and duration of alimony awarded are at the judge’s discretion.

The court facilitates payments by issuing an income withholding order. This order directs the employer of the paying spouse to deduct support payments from their paycheck. The receiving spouse has to open an account with KPC and may choose to receive the monthly support payments as a check, direct deposit, or reloadable debit card.

Read More:  Divorce Laws in Kansas

What Factors Are Used to Determine Alimony?

Kansas uses a set of guiding principles when determining alimony cases.  However, these guidelines are not binding, and the court may choose to use all, some, or none of them when reaching a decision.  The result is that there’s no single formula used in Kansas alimony cases.

Before a judge will consider maintenance, the spouse seeking support must

  • lack sufficient property to provide for their reasonable needs, and
  • be unable to support themselves through appropriate employment, or be the custodian of a child whose condition makes it suitable for that custodian not to have employment outside the home.

If a spouse does not meet either of these conditions, that spouse cannot receive maintenance.

When a spouse meets both, a judge will look at several other factors to determine the amount and duration of alimony.

Some of these factors include:

  • The financial situation of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • The time necessary for that spouse to acquire sufficient education or training, which would allow that spouse to find appropriate employment
  • The amount both spouses earn
  • The standard of living established during the marriage.
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age, physical, and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance
  • The conduct of the spouses during the marriage
  • Contributions of each party to the marriage
  • The time needed to obtain the training to find employment
  • The ability of the payor spouse to meet their needs and pay support
  • Any other relevant factors.

Courts do not consider disability benefits awarded to either veteran spouse for service-connected disabilities and awarding any other income or property of the veteran to their spouse or former spouse as compensation.

Custody of children and required child support are other factors in the amount and consideration of alimony. If the spouse with custody of the children can’t support themselves due to the children’s ages or any condition that hinders the individual’s ability to support the child, it would influence the case for alimony to be received by the children’s custodian.

Read More:  How to File for Divorce in Kansas

Modifying or Terminating Spousal Support in Kansas

Under Kansas alimony laws, a court can’t increase or accelerate payment of unpaid alimony beyond what was ordered in the original decree.

When creating an award, parties should agree on events that warrant the modification or termination of alimony.

Unless an agreement states otherwise, spousal support should end with:

  • Death of either party
  • Remarriage of the receiving party
  • The expiration of the agreed-upon term of alimony

When an ex-spouse receiving alimony remarries and their total home income increases substantially, a modification would ask the court to stop alimony since that person no longer needs maintenance from their former spouse.

The ending term does not include alimony that is past due and hasn’t been paid yet.  The payor still retains that obligation until it is completed.

A court can change an alimony award, but there needs to be a relevant material change in circumstances.  This may be due to a permanent loss of income, a change in the payor’s health, job promotion, or other similar life events.

The motion to modify alimony must be filed before the expiration of the current order, or the court will not have jurisdiction.

A modification may also be triggered due to an escalation clause and a cost-of-living adjustment.

An escalation clause modifies the maintenance amount based on the paying spouse’s earnings, especially with inconsistent income such as commissioned-based salaries. A cost-of-living adjustment is adjusted periodically based on inflation.

Enforcing Kansas Alimony Awards

Alimony is usually paid directly to the KPC (Kansas Payment Center). The KPC is the payment processing center for all Kansas child support and maintenance payments.

Missing a payment can result in a judgment against the payor spouse for each missed payment.

The judgments can be enforced by:

  • Garnishing wages
  • Seizure of bank accounts, real estate, and other non-exempt property
  • Restrictions on driver’s licenses, professional licenses, and other state-issued types of certifications
  • Possibly charging the payor spouse with contempt of court.  Contempt of court can lead to paying your spouse’s attorney fees, fines, and sometimes, a jail sentence.

The court reserves the right to exercise contempt powers over the paying spouse in every support order. If you fail to pay, the court will issue a summons and require you to attend a hearing to explain why you’re not following the court order.

Read More:  A Guide to Divorce Financial Planning

Alimony and Taxes

Due to recent changes in Federal laws, the payer cannot deduct alimony or separate maintenance payments under a divorce or separation instrument executed after 2018. These payments are also not included as taxable income for recipients.

The same applies to alimony paid under a divorce or separation instrument executed before 2019 and modified after 2018 if the modification states that the maintenance isn’t deductible to the payor spouse or included in the recipient spouse’s income.

Taxpayers paying alimony under a divorce agreement executed before 2019 can deduct those payments from taxes when the following criteria are met:

  • The recipient must be a spouse or former spouse
  • There must be a written divorce or separation instrument
  • Alimony must be made with cash payments (such as checks and money orders)
  • Maintenance does not continue after the recipient dies
  • The parties must live apart, residing in different households
  • The parties must file separate tax returns (they cannot file a joint return and claim the alimony deduction)
  • The court-ordered payment of alimony cannot state that payments are not deductible

Kansas Alimony FAQs

Do Kansas courts consider gender when determining alimony awards?

No.  Alimony is based on the needs of a spouse regardless of gender.  That means a woman could be ordered to pay a man alimony, a man could be ordered to pay a woman.

Can I get alimony if I was never married?

No.  The only requirement for the courts to consider the issue of spousal support is that the individuals must have been married.

Can I waive a right to alimony as part of a prenuptial agreement?

Yes.  Spouses can agree to forego alimony through a prenuptial agreement or as an agreement in the context of the divorce. The court may require the spouses to explain the waiver of maintenance, particularly in cases where an award seems appropriate.

What is the 121 Month Rule?

By law, judges in Kansas may not order alimony for a duration longer than 121 months. However, if the original court order states that a judge can review and reassess after the initial 121 months, a judge may order additional support.

Is marital fault considered in Kansas alimony?

Kansas does not consider marital fault when determining alimony payments. This means that divorces considered “at-fault” due to infidelity, abuse, or other factors do not affect the calculation of alimony payments.

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