Most people equate divorce with a massive amount of stress and a waste of money and time. Couples who are willing to lay aside their differences and work together, might be able to get a simple, more peaceful divorce—called an “uncontested divorce.”
This article provides an overview of uncontested divorces in Kansas. If you still have questions after reading this article, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney.
Uncontested divorces are ones where a couple is in agreement on all terms of the divorce. You can hire an attorney to help prepare paperwork in an uncontested divorce in Kansas.
More often though, couples will complete uncontested divorces on their own, without a lawyer. A divorcing couple can work out a settlement agreement on their own or with the help of a mediator. Specifically, a divorce settlement agreement 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. Because of the complexity of litigation, many people hire attorneys to handle their divorce trials.
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. See Kan. Stat. Ann. § 23-2701 (2020).
The fault grounds for divorce include:
Most couples cite incompatibility as the reason for the divorce, because that way they can avoid talking about the intimate details of their marriage in a courtroom. Incompatibility simply means "we don't get along anymore."
If you’re handling a divorce without an attorney, it’s up to you to know where and what to file. Couples should file for divorce in the county where either spouse lives – also called “venue”. A judge may throw out your case if you file your case in the wrong county or venue. 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 by taking them to the courthouse. Among other documents, the petitioner always files a petition, which is the legal document that explains what the petitioner is asking the court to do (e.g., grant the divorce, order the other spouse to pay alimony, etc.).
The court clerk will assign a case number, which is placed on all additional documents. 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) is filed with the court, the clerk will assign a final hearing date. You can get a relatively quick divorce in Kansas if 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 divorce can be granted.
In other words, the final hearing date won't be any sooner than 60 days after filing the proof of service. While you're waiting, 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 any written settlement agreement between you and your spouse.
When you attend the final hearing, you may have to testify if the judge asks you questions about the 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 may 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. You may also want to consider hiring a local family law attorney to help with your divorce.