A divorce is the dissolution or end of a marriage, whereas a separation is a legal process for spouses to live separately but remain married. In Kansas, spouses must file with the court to get a divorce or legal separation. The results of a divorce and legal separation have several differences. A divorce ends a marriage and allows the former spouses to remarry other people. In a legal separation, the spouses are still married and cannot freely marry other people. However, spouses in a legal separation can easily return to their regular marriage by reversing the separation in court.
You can file for divorce or separation in Kansas for no fault (neither spouse did anything wrong in the marriage) or fault (one or both spouses did something wrong marriage) reasons including:
- Incompatibility (no fault);
- Failure to perform an important marital duty or obligation (fault);
- One or both spouses has mental illness or mental incapacity (fault)
You do not need to have a period of separation from your spouse before you file for divorce. You just need to formally file for divorce with the court. A judge may order you and your spouse to go to marriage counseling after you file for divorce.
What Paperwork Do You Need to File for Divorce?
To file for divorce in Kansas, you must be a resident of the state for 60 days immediately before you file for divorce. You must file the following paperwork with the Clerk of the District Court in the county that you live:
- Petition for Divorce;
- Domestic Relations Affidavit;
- Civil Information Sheet; and
- The Request for Service Form or the Voluntary Entry of Appearance form.
You do not need to notify your spouse before you file for divorce or legal separation. However, Kansas law requires you to give your spouse notification after your file.
Community Property vs. Separate Property
Married couples may acquire property during the marriage, such as money, homes, and stocks. Property that couples get during their marriage is marital property. When a spouse files for divorce, one of the issues that can occur is how to divide the marital property.
Kansas is a separate property state. When a couple cannot agree of how to split the marital property, a judge in a community property state divides the property using equitable distribution. The court decides what is a fair division using factor, such as:
- The age of the spouses;
- The length of the marriage;
- The property the spouses own; and
- Each spouses current and future ability to earn money.
Marital property can fall into two categories: community property and separate property. Community property is any property that you or your spouse gets, individually or together, during the marriage. A spouse acquires separate property in several ways, including:
- Property a spouse owns before the marriage;
- Property a spouse inherits; or
- Property a husband or wife receives as a gift from someone other than his or her spouse.
Community property and separate property affect how a judge divides property during a divorce or separation. First, the court must determine whether the property is community or separate property. Separate property is not a part of the marital property and receives protection from marital property division. When a Kansas court divides the community the judge may have to sell property to give each spouse their fair share of the property value.
What Should You Do If There are Children Involved?
In divorce and separation cases involving children, the court focuses on the support and education of all minor children. If the parents do not agree on child support and custody terms, the court will decide what is in the best interest of the child. Whether the one parent has full custody or both parents share custody, the judge arranges for support of the child until:
- The child reaches 18;
- The child reaches an age beyond 18, by written agreement of the parents; or
- The child graduates from high school.
The financial obligation of both parents remains after a divorce or separation. The court determines the amount of child support using the state child support guidelines. The paying parent must pay child support payments through the central unit for collection and disbursement of support payments, unless the parents agree for direct payments to the custodial parent.
Do You Need to Pay Alimony?
Alimony is the payment one spouse pays to the other spouse who does not have enough income or money to take care themselves. You must pay alimony to your spouse if a court order you to pay. A court cannot award alimony for more than 121 months. After that time, you must go back to court to restore the alimony order.
The court can modify an alimony support order if the paying spouse has a substantial change in circumstances. For example, if the paying spouse loses her job or income lowers, she may be unable to pay the current alimony amount. The spouse who receives alimony can ask for an increase if he is in financial need. However, a court cannot increase alimony unless the paying spouse agrees to the increase.
Where Can You Find the Right Divorce Lawyer?
Divorce and legal separation cases require a lot of time, paperwork, understanding of the law. Hiring a lawyer to handle your case helps to make sure that your divorce or separation is done correctly. Contact a Kansas divorce lawyer today to protect your rights, obligations, and property.