Grounds for Divorce in Kansas

If your marriage has reached a breaking point, you may be considering divorce. This article will help you understand your options in Kansas.

By , Attorney

Grounds for Divorce

Although every court's divorce procedures are different, all courts require divorcing couples to identify the legal grounds to terminate the marriage. In the initial paperwork, the filing spouse (plaintiff) must list a reason for the relationship's demise.

Some states still allows spouses to ask for a fault divorce, which is based on one spouse's marital misconduct, like adultery or abandonment. All states allow couples to pursue a no-fault divorce, which means that neither spouse is at fault for the divorce. Couples will need to explain to the court that the relationship is so badly damaged that there's no chance for reconciliation in the future. The trademark of no-fault divorce is that you don't need to point fingers or place blame, which usually translates into a faster and less contentious legal process.

Kansas Offers No-Fault Divorce

In many states, the courts used to require divorcing spouses to prove why their marriage didn't work. This meant airing your dirty laundry in public, which wasn't ideal. Over the past 50 years, however, the modern trend in all courts is to allow couples to ask for a divorce based on a breakdown of their marriage. Each state's requirements vary slightly, so it's important to understand exactly what you need to tell the court to be successful.

For no-fault divorce in Kansas, couples must allege that they are incompatible, and because of this, there's no chance for reconciliation in the future. You don't need to provide details of the break-up, you just need to state that you no longer get along. If you do this, the court will grant your request for a divorce.

Fault Divorce is Less Common, But Still Available

As an alternative to no-fault divorce, couples have the option of filing for divorce based on a spouse's marital misconduct. This type of divorce requires a higher standard of proof, which means instead of simply telling the court that you're incompatible, you'll need to explain to the judge why your spouse's actions caused the breakdown in the marriage, and then, you'll need to prove it.

Like no-fault divorce, you will need to identify the legal grounds for your request. Kansas only allows fault divorce based on the following:

  • failure to perform a material marital duty (e.g. refusing to engage in sexual relations), or
  • incompatibility due to mental illness or incapacity.

Before a judge can grant a divorce based on incompatibility due to mental illness you must prove:

  • your spouse has been confined to a mental hospital or institution for at least two years (this doesn't have to be continuous), or
  • a court ruled that your spouse is mentally ill or incapacitated.

Additionally, the court will appoint at least two doctors to evaluate your spouse. If both doctors agree that your spouse has a poor prognosis for recovery, the court will grant your request for a divorce.

A fault divorce isn't easy, so you should approach this process with caution. Although you may feel like it's better to prove to your friends and family that you weren't the reason for your failed marriage, if you don't meet your standard of proof, you risk the judge dismissing your petition. If that occurs, you will need to start the process over again.

What are the Requirements for Divorce?

Like most states, Kansas has a residency requirement that you must meet before you file for divorce. At least one spouse must show that they have been an actual resident of the state for a minimum of 60 days prior to filing for divorce. Additionally, there is a waiting period of at least 60 days before the judge can grant your divorce.

Is There an Alternative to Divorce in Kansas?

Yes. Kansas offers a legal procedure called separate maintenance, but most people refer to this as legal separation. There is a common misconception that if you live apart for a certain amount of time, you're legally separated. On the contrary, to be legally separated, you must follow a divorce-like process.

Grounds for legal separation include:

  • incompatibility
  • failure to perform a material marital duty, or
  • incompatibility due to mental illness.

Legal separation is like divorce in that it alters a couple's marital status, but in the end, legally-separated couples are still married. Spouses should try to come to an agreement on all divorce-related issues, like property division, custody, and spousal support, but if you can't agree, a judge will decide.

This is a good option for couples who wish to live separately but continue to financially support each other or for those whose religion prohibits divorce. However, separation isn't a common alternative because it's usually just a placeholder for divorce. For example, if you and your spouse are legally separated, but you would like to remarry, you will need to file for divorce.

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