Divorces don't always have to involve a ton of stress, money, and time. Couples who are willing to lay aside their differences and reach an agreement about the issues in their divorce might be able to get an "uncontested divorce"—a simpler, less expensive alternative to battling it out in court.
This article provides an overview of the uncontested divorce process in Kansas.
Uncontested divorces are ones where a couple is in agreement on all terms of the divorce. Uncontested divorces are much faster and cheaper than traditional divorce—spouses can often use a DIY solution like an online divorce service. They do, though, also have the option of getting professional help from an attorney or mediator.
Specifically, to get an uncontested divorce in Kansas, spouses must resolve all of the issues in a divorce, including:
Couples who can't agree on any issue in their divorce will end up in court, asking a judge to decide the contested issues at a divorce trial. This will involve presenting evidence, witnesses, and legal arguments—contested divorces usually aren't something you want to DIY.
Before you can file for divorce in Kansas, you or your spouse must have lived in Kansas for at least 60 days. Spouses who seek an uncontested divorce must also agree on the divorce "grounds" or legal reason for divorce. Kansas recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds.
Specifically, you can file for a "no-fault" divorce based on incompatibility, meaning that you and your spouse don't get along. (Kan. Stat. Ann. § 23-2701 (2020).)
The fault grounds for divorce in Kansas include:
Because these fault-based grounds involve a lot of personal information being aired in a courtroom, most Kansas couples file for a no-fault divorce instead, citing incompatibility as the reason for the divorce. (Incompatibility simply means "we don't get along anymore.")
When you do a DIY divorce, it's up to you to know where and what to file. The correct venue (court to file in) is the court of the county where either spouse lives. If you file in the wrong court, a judge might throw out your case or require you to refile in the correct one. The Kansas Judicial Branch website has a court locator page to help you find the correct court for filing.
The entry-level trial courts in Kansas are the district courts. District courts have jurisdiction over divorce cases and you'll need to begin your divorce in the district court. Later on, if you think the judge's final divorce order is wrong, you can appeal to the Kansas Court of Appeals or even the Kansas Supreme Court. But remember that when you're starting your case, it's crucial to file your papers in your local district court.
The first thing that the petitioner (the spouse who begins the divorce) needs to do is locate the correct Kansas divorce 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 spouse requesting the divorce (the petitioner) files key legal documents at the proper courthouse. Among other documents, the petitioner always files a petition—the legal document that explains what the petitioner is asking the court to do (for example, grant the divorce or order the other spouse to pay alimony).
The court clerk will assign a case number, which is placed on all documents that are filed in your case. 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) stating that the respondent has received the court papers is filed with the court, the clerk will assign a final hearing date. You can get a relatively quick divorce in Kansas when your case is uncontested. However, even when spouses agree on all terms of the divorce, there's a 60-day waiting period from the time you file your case until a judge can finalize your divorce. In other words, the final hearing date won't be any sooner than 60 days after filing the proof of service.
During the required waiting period, mail the notice of final hearing to the respondent and complete the required portions of the Decree of Divorce. You should also make sure that you have filed with the court any written settlement agreement between you and your spouse.
When you attend the final hearing, you might have to testify if the judge asks you questions about your settlement agreement. You should be prepared to answer questions and have all relevant paperwork with you at the hearing, including:
If you give the court a fully executed (signed by both parties) Decree of Divorce and settlement agreement, the judge can choose to sign the final order without your testimony as long as the agreement isn't unfair and serves the best interests of any children. (Note: if you live in Reno County, you will provide the court with a short affidavit instead of testifying.)
If you still have questions about handling your divorce case, check out the Kansas Legal Services website "All About Divorce" page for access to forms and answers to many of the most frequently asked questions in a divorce.