Emergency Divorce in Kansas

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Gavel and Scales

We’ve all heard about dramatic divorces that have dragged on and taken years to complete. If you’re going through a divorce in Kansas, you may be wondering how to avoid such delays in your case. This article provides general information about the alternative “emergency divorce” process and when it may be available. An “emergency divorce” in Kansas follows the same basic procedure as a regular divorce, but allows the person seeking the divorce to skip the waiting period and move the final hearing up.

Kansas courts typically require at least 60 days to pass after the filing of a divorce before they will hold any hearings or declare the divorce final. In some cases, however, it’s possible to speed the process up, either by including a request for an emergency divorce in your “petition” (legal paperwork requesting a divorce) or filing a motion for one later on. If the court finds that an emergency exists, the divorce case can be heard immediately.

Overview of Regular Divorce

Even without an emergency, divorces in Kansas generally move through the system pretty quickly. Kansas requires at least one spouse to live in the state for at least 60 days before you can file for divorce, which is a shorter residency requirement than the majority of states. State law also allows the “petitioner” (the spouse requesting the divorce) to choose between a no-fault and a fault-based complaint.

A no-fault divorce in Kansas allows a couple to go forward with their divorce without getting into why they no longer wish to be married. They simply state that they’re incompatible as grounds for the divorce.

A fault-based divorce requires at least one of the spouses to claim and prove the other spouse caused the divorce by engaging in misconduct that led to the breakup. Grounds for fault-based cases include mental illness and failure to perform a material marital duty or obligation.

To ensure fairness, Kansas requires that anyone who files a lawsuit provide a copy of it to the person they’re suing, so your petition must be “served” (delivered) to the other party by the county sheriff or a process server. If you can’t find your spouse, you can pay to have notice of the lawsuit published in a local newspaper. The other side then has 21 days to respond and can choose to file an answer, counterclaim or both. If your spouse is aware of the divorce and doesn’t object to it, he or she can also choose to waive the service requirement by filing a document with the court.

Once the case is filed, 60 days must pass before the court will hold a hearing. This cooling off period gives the two sides some time to work out a settlement to hopefully avoid a lengthy, expensive court battle.

Requesting an Emergency Divorce in Kansas

In some situations, even 60 days might be too long – and that’s when an emergency divorce might be the best alternative. If you have a valid reason for needing a divorce before the mandatory time period is up and can present evidence to support your claims, the court can choose to hold a hearing right away. Asking the court for an emergency divorce requires a few extra steps.

To request an emergency divorce, you must either include it in your initial petition or file a separate motion. In your petition or motion, you must explain the emergency and provide relevant evidence to back up your allegations. The court then sets a hearing to rule on whether the emergency is valid. Unless your spouse waives the right to file an answer, however, the earliest the court can hold the hearing is after the 21 days to respond have expired.

At the hearing, you should be prepared to prove to the court that your circumstances warrant speeding up the divorce process. If you can persuade the court that your situation is truly an emergency, the judge will have the discretion (authority) to hear the divorce case right away. Because this hearing can proceed directly into the final divorce hearing, Kansas law requires the court to notify both sides of the emergency divorce determination hearing date at least seven days beforehand, so both spouses have time to prepare.

Grounds for an Emergency Divorce in Kansas

Kansas law gives judges broad discretion when it comes to deciding what qualifies as an emergency. In past divorce cases, judges have granted emergency petitions where there was evidence that one spouse was the victim of domestic abuse and circumstances where one spouse needed immediate access to financial support.

If you have questions about whether your case might qualify for an emergency divorce, you should contact an experienced family law attorney in your area for advice.

Resources

Kansas Legal Services: All About Kansas Divorce

American Bar Association: Grounds for Divorce and Residency Requirements

K.S.A. 23-2704

K.S.A. 23-2701

K.S.A. 60-303

K.S.A. 60-212

K.S.A. 23-2708

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