Kansas law encourages parents to work out custody arrangements themselves without bringing the issue to court. If they cannot come to an agreement, courts make custody decisions based on what is in the "best interest" of the child. The courts typically favor joint legal custody, but residential or physical custody is rarely split evenly.
What Is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is a detailed, written agreement that sets out how divorcing parents will share legal and physical custody of their children. In Kansas, parents must submit a parenting plan before their divorce is approved. If they cannot agree on a plan, the court may order mediation (a dispute resolution process). If mediation is unsuccessful, the parents must submit separate, proposed plans for the court’s consideration.
What Does the Court Consider in Assigning Custody?
Kansas courts balance a series of factors when determining the best interest of a child. These factors include:
- Who has been the child’s primary caregiver,
- The child’s connection to his or her current home, school, and community,
- The history of contact between the parents and the child,
- The importance of sibling and other familial relationships,
- Evidence of child abuse or spousal abuse,
- The child’s reasonable preference (if age appropriate), and
- The parents’ wishes.
A parent’s gender is not considered as a factor. In a custody dispute, a guardian ad litem may be assigned to advocate for the child and help assess his or her best interests.
What Happens When the Court Has Made a Decision?
Once the parenting plan and divorce order are signed, they are filed with the court clerk. Both parents are then bound by the approved custody order and the court must approve any modification of the plan.
Should I Contact a Kansas Lawyer Regarding my Custody Issues?
Child custody disputes can be emotionally charged and require a detailed understanding of the law. If you have concerns about custody and parenting time, it is important that you speak with an experienced family law attorney. A lawyer will help advocate for you and your child and work to secure the best possible parenting arrangement for your family.