Uncontested Divorce in Kansas
Learn about the process of uncontested divorce in Kansas.
Most people equate divorce with a massive waste of money and time. But if you and your spouse are willing to lay aside your emotions and work out some compromises, you might be able to get an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorces spare you from having to duke it out in court.
This article will explain uncontested divorces in Kansas. If you still have questions after reading this article, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney.
An Overview of Uncontested Divorce in Kansas
An uncontested divorce simply means that both spouses agree on everything, including:
- child custody and visitation, including where your children will live
- child support, health and dental insurance, and medical expenses for the children
- tax deductions and exemptions
- division of the marital assets and debts
- the payment of court costs for the divorce
- the legal reason (also known as “grounds”) for the divorce, and
- any other dispute involving your marriage.
If you or your spouse disagree about any of these items, your divorce will be considered "contested" and it will have to go to trial. Please note that if you disagree about any issue involving your children, you are required to seek the help of a licensed attorney.
You can only get an uncontested divorce in Kansas if you meet the residency requirements, meaning that the spouse asking for the divorce has to have been living in the State of Kansas for at least 60 days before filing. You and your spouse also have to agree on the grounds for the divorce, which can be any one of the following:
- incompatibility (inability to get along)
- failure to perform a material marital duty or obligation, or
- one or both spouses is mentally ill.
It’s very common for spouses to cite incompatibility as the reason for the divorce, because that way they can avoid talking about the intimate details of their marriage in a courtroom. It's enough to say, "we don't get along anymore."
How to Get Started
You’re responsible for knowing where to file your papers. If you file in the wrong place, your case could be tossed out and you might have to start over. The Kansas Judicial Branch has a website you can use to locate the correct court.
The entry-level trial courts in Kansas are the district courts. District courts have jurisdiction over divorce cases. You have to begin your divorce in the district court. Later on, if you think the judge's final order is wrong, you can appeal to the Kansas Court of Appeals or even the Kansas Supreme Court. But remember: when you're starting your case, it's crucial to file your papers in the correct district.
The Uncontested Divorce Process
The first thing that the petitioner (the spouse who begins the divorce) needs to do is locate the correct forms and complete them. Kansas has one set of official forms for petitioners with children and another set for petitioners without children.
Every divorce officially begins when the petitioner files key legal documents by taking them to the courthouse. Among other documents, the petitioner always files a petition, which is the legal document that explains what the petitioner is asking the court to do (e.g., grant the divorce, order the other spouse to pay alimony, etc.).
The court clerk will assign a case number, which is placed on all additional documents. The petitioner then serves the documents on the respondent (the other spouse), which means that the respondent is given the papers via official means, such as a process server or sheriff's deputy.
After proof of service (an affidavit) is filed with the court, the clerk will assign a final hearing date. There's a 60 day waiting period, so the final hearing date won't be any sooner than 60 days after filing the proof of service. While you're waiting, mail the notice of final hearing to the respondent and complete the required portions of the Decree of Divorce. Be sure to file any written agreement that you and your spouse have reached.
When you attend the final hearing, you may have to testify if the judge asks you questions about the agreement. Be prepared to answer, and bring all the paperwork with you, including:
- the proposed Decree
- the Child Support Worksheet
- proof of completion of parental education
- the Parenting Plan (if you have children)
- the Domestic Relations Affidavit, and
- the Vital Statistics Worksheet.
If you give the court a fully executed (signed by both parties) Decree of Divorce and Property Settlement Agreement, the judge may choose to sign the final order without your testimony. (Note: if you live in Reno County, you will provide the court with a short affidavit instead of testifying.)
There are very detailed instructions for how to obtain a divorce. The following websites may be useful, especially if you plan to represent yourself: Kansas Judicial Branch Self-Help Center, Official divorce forms, and Kansas Legal Services (divorce). Take your time and work carefully. It’s critical that you obtain all the instructions and checklists and follow them exactly. Type everything on a computer or print neatly. If you rush through the papers and make mistakes, the judge may have questions or concerns about your paperwork.
The court clerks who work in the courthouse can offer only limited help, but they can’t give you any legal advice. If you have questions, you should contact an experienced family law attorney.