If you or your spouse has lived in Kansas for the previous 60 days, you are eligible to file for divorce in the state. A divorce action is commenced by completing and filing a petition for divorce with the district court in the county in which you or your spouse lives. In most cases, you must wait at least 60 days after filing before a divorce will be granted. The exact length of time it will take before you will be able to schedule a final hearing in your case will depend on the complexity of the issues involved and whether you and your spouse can agree to some or all of the terms.
Once you have filed the petition for divorce, your spouse must be notified and provided a copy of the document. In Kansas, your spouse has a right to receive what is known as personal service of process, which may be completed by a sheriff or through certified mail. After service is complete, your spouse has up to 20 days to respond in writing before the divorce will move forward, with or without his participation. How long this process takes is largely dependent on the actions of your spouse. If he is interested in moving forward quickly, he may waive service by filing a voluntary acknowledgment form along with his written response, referred to as an answer, before the deadline.
Generally speaking, no divorce hearing will be scheduled in Kansas until at least 60 days have passed since the date you filed the petition. However, state law does provide an exception to this rule in cases of emergency. Determining whether an emergency exists is at the discretion of the judge and is often based on information provided by a physician or mental health professional. An example might be if there was documented physical or emotional abuse occurring between you and your spouse, a judge could conclude that a divorce hearing must be held immediately to protect the victimized party.
If you and your spouse agree on the major issues related to your divorce, including property division, spousal support and child support and custody, the divorce is referred to as uncontested. For uncontested divorces, the length of time it will take to receive a hearing date after the 60-day period is largely a function of scheduling by the court, and could take up to 90 days or more depending on the docket. If you cannot agree on everything, the matter is considered contested and will require resolution of the issues by trial. However, before a trial is scheduled, you must exchange information, including a financial accounting and child custody proposals. There may be disputes about what information needs to be exchanged, which will be resolved by the court. You may also need to gather evidence and witness testimony in order to substantiate your claims. This process is collectively referred to as discovery, and it can take several months to complete.
Additional Pretrial Matters
While the divorce is pending, your or your spouse may request temporary orders from the judge. These can cover support and custody matters, and determine who will continue to live in the marital home. The court will schedule hearings for these requests, which can further delay the process for getting to the final hearing. Further, Kansas encourages the parties to make good faith attempts to resolve disputes without going to trial. To that end, if your divorce is contested, you may be required to attend mediation, which can take time to complete. Also, if you do not agree on custody arrangements, some counties will appoint an investigator to visit your home, interview you and your child, and make recommendations for custody to the court. Because of the amount of pretrial matters that can arise in contested cases, it can take several months to schedule a final hearing.