Divorce Proceedings in Kansas

by Bernadette A. Safrath

When spouses decide to end their marriage, they must file papers requesting a divorce. Divorce laws vary by state. Spouses are only eligible to file for divorce in Kansas if at least one spouse has lived in the state for no less than 60 days. If the residency requirement is met, divorce papers can be filed and the court will divide the marital property and award alimony, if applicable, before issuing a final divorce decree.

Grounds

Kansas, like many other states, no longer requires fault grounds for divorce. Instead, a spouse can file for divorce based on the no-fault ground of "incompatibility." Another no-fault ground for divorce is mental incapacity. If a spouse is mentally ill, has resided in a mental institution for two years and three doctors concur in the diagnosis, the other spouse can file for divorce. Lastly, while no longer required, fault grounds, including abandonment, abuse, adultery and habitual alcohol or drug use, are still available.

Divorce Papers

A spouse must file a petition for divorce in the district court located in one spouse's county of residence in order to begin the divorce process in Kansas. The court clerk's office will stamp the papers as filed and return a stamped copy to the filing spouse to serve on the other spouse. A process server must personally present the other spouse with the papers filed in order to provide him with notice of the pending divorce.

Property Division

Each spouse is entitled to maintain ownership of any separate property owned prior to the marriage. The court will divide all marital property based on "equitable distribution," meaning in a fair, though not necessarily equal, manner. The court considers the value of any separate property awarded, each spouse's income, the spouses' ages, the length of the marriage, each spouse's role in acquiring the property, whether either spouse will receive alimony and whether either spouse attempted to sell or hide property during or immediately prior to the divorce.

Alimony

The court may award alimony if one spouse does not have sufficient assets and income to be self-supporting. Alimony is paid by one spouse to the other based on the receiving spouse's financial need and the paying spouse's ability to make payments. Kansas law states that alimony can be awarded for no more than 121 months.

Waiting Period

Kansas has a waiting period of 60 days before a divorce can be finalized. This means that unless there is some urgency, for example, a marriage involving domestic violence, a court cannot issue the final divorce decree until 60 days have passed from the date the petition for divorce was filed.