If you decide to end your marriage, there are certain issues that have to be settled. For example, if you and your spouse have children, you’ll have to decide how much time each parent is going to spend with them and how much child support has to be paid. You’ll also have to divide your property and debts.
In order to start the divorce process while representing yourself, you’ll need to complete some forms. You can obtain the forms online, from the Kansas Judicial Council. These are official forms, but you should double-check with your local court to make sure the judges there will accept them.
Be thorough and complete in responding to the questions. Fill out the forms on a computer if you can. If not, write or print neatly and legibly.
The forms you are required to complete differ depending on whether you have children and also on whether you are the "petitioner" (the spouse who initiates the divorce) or the "respondent" (the spouse who is served with divorce papers).
If you and your spouse don't have any minor children (meaning, kids who are financially dependent on you and who aren't legally emancipated), you need to use the Divorce Forms for Self-Represented Parties Without Minor Children.
If you and your spouse do have minor children, you should use the Divorce Forms for Self-Represented Parties With Minor Children.
When you’re ready, make two copies of all documents and hold onto the original. Eventually you will give one copy to the court, one to the other spouse and keep the last one for yourself.
Go to your local courthouse (the one where you or your spouse are living) and ask to file the documents that were outlined in the Instructions you read earlier. If you're the petitioner, the clerk will stamp the documents with the date and assign your case a number that needs to be on every document from now on. You’ll also need to pay a filing fee. If you can't afford to pay it, ask the clerk for a Poverty Affidavit. A judge will review your affidavit and decide whether to waive (eliminate) all filing fees.
Ask the court clerk to give you two copies of everything, then assemble a packet for your spouse that includes everything you filed plus the summons. Serve your spouse as soon as possible after leaving.
When you’ve prepared and filed your forms, you should immediately serve your spouse with the documents. Service of process is very important in the American legal system because it ensures that everyone has notice about what’s going on and an opportunity to “appear,” or argue, their point of view. Service of process ensures that no one is ever “ambushed” in a courtroom.
If your spouse is an adult who is pro se (meaning, has not hired a lawyer), then you should serve your spouse directly at the location at your spouse’s home address. If your spouse has retained a lawyer, serve the lawyer at the lawyer’s office and don’t send copies to your spouse.
If you're the petitioner and you're serving the summons and petition, special service rules apply and you must pursue one of the following options to notify your spouse that you've filed divorce papers.
Most other documents can be served by first class mail or hand delivery.
Different rules may apply if you are trying to serve someone who is very hard to locate, in the military, out-of-state, or in jail. Check with your clerk of court for more information in these unusual situations.
Both spouses have to complete a Domestic Relations Affidavit, which is a statement sworn in front of a notary public that details each spouse’s financial picture, from employment to assets to liabilities and monthly expenses. This helps everyone to understand more about, for example, how much child support should be paid, or whether one spouse should receive alimony. Make sure you are clear, detailed, and candid when you complete this form. File it with the court and serve it upon your spouse as well.
Kansas Legal Services, which provides legal services to low-income Kansans, has a free, interactive, online service to help you locate and complete the correct divorce forms. For additional assistance, you can view the divorce resource page, call 1-800-723-6953, or submit an online application for legal help.