What is the Procedure for Initiating a Divorce?
A divorce action is initiated by filing a petition and summons for divorce (legal paperwork requesting a divorce) with the clerk of your local district court. The parties to a divorce action are called the “petitioner” (the spouse that files for divorce) and the “respondent” (the other spouse who must file an answer to the petition). The petition should state the essential facts - that the parties were married, giving both the date and place of the marriage.
For a complete description of what should be contained in the petition and summons, see K.S.A. 23-2704.
Who May File for Divorce?
Either spouse may file for divorce.
What are the Grounds for Divorce in Kansas?
In the initial divorce paperwork, you must provide a “ground” (reason) for requesting a divorce. Kansas recognizes both “no-fault” and “fault” grounds.
In a “no-fault” divorce, the ground is simply that you and your spouse are incompatible meaning you just can’t get along anymore. You don’t need to provide any facts regarding what led to the breakup. This allows couples to divorce without being forced to air their dirty laundry in court.
The “fault” grounds for divorce in Kansas are few and only include the following:
- failure to perform a material marital duty or obligation (e.g., refusal to engage in sexual interactions), and
- incompatibility by reason of mental illness or mental incapacity of one or both spouses.
The ground of incompatibility by reason of mental illness or mental incapacity can only be pursued if:
- the mentally-ill spouse has been confined in an institution for at least a two-year period (which period of time doesn’t need to be continuous, and
- there has been an adjudication (judgment by a court) that the spouse does indeed suffer from mental illness or mental incapacity.
For a complete description of the grounds for divorce, see K.S.A. 23-2701
In Kansas, fault doesn't ususally come into play when courts determine property division or spousal maintenance (alimony), but if either parent's misconduct affects the best interests of the children, it will be relevant to custody decisions.
What are the Residency Requirements to get a Divorce in Kansas?
One of the spouses must live in the state for at least 60 days before filing for divorce.
What are the Filing Fees for a Divorce in Kansas?
Courts charge fees every time you file (submit) legal paperwork, including the initial petition and summons for divorce. Check the website for the county district court where you intend to file for divorce: they should have a current fee schedule online.
If you cannot afford the filing fee, you can usually request a waiver by filing an affidavit (written declaration) showing that your income is too low to allow you to pay the fee. However, the court may collect the fee when it grants the divorce from one of the parties, or it may order each to pay a portion of it.
How Long will it Take to Get Divorced in Kansas?
In Kansas there is a required waiting period of sixty 60 days after the filing of the petition, unless an emergency exists. Most of the time, this waiting period is used to work out details of any agreements.
However, it’s impossible to predict how long a divorce will take. Some contested divorces drag on for years as a result of the couples’ refusal to agree on anything, and numerous legal hearings throughout the proceeding leading up to a full-blown trial. Both the time and legal expenses involved in such a divorce are likely to be substantial.
Also, since many courts have suffered huge cuts in their budgets, they have limited resources, staff, and time to deal with all of their cases. So, even divorcing couples that have agreed on most, if not all, of their divorce issues may experience significant delays in having their cases heard or judgments of divorce issued.
For copies of Kansas divorce forms, you can access the Kansas Judicial Council website by clicking here.
You can also access the Kansas Judicial Branch’s self-help website here.