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Kansas Divorce Process

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A divorce action in Kansas is initiated by the filing of a Petition for Divorce in the county in which you or your spouse resides. The person who files the Petition is considered the Petitioner.  That Petition must be personally served upon the other spouse in order to provide official formal notice of the action.  Once your spouse is served, he or she has 21 days within which to file an Answer to Petition for Divorce and get involved in the case.  The time in between service and the filing of the answer is typically when a responding party will seek out and hire an attorney.  Once the responding spouse or, Respondent, has filed an answer the parties and attorneys begin either working towards an agreed resolution of the issues in the case or seek assistance from the court in handling any temporary issues.

Ultimately, you want to resolve your case out of court, i.e. without trial so that you can retain some control in the final outcome. If the case is resolved by agreement a separation and property settlement agreement will be executed and filed with the court, as well as a Decree of Divorce.  If you have children a final parenting plan and child support worksheet would be filed with the settlement agreement and decree. The average divorce case in Kansas takes anywhere from three to six months.  Some cases can get resolved quicker, and cases can spill over the six-month mark and last for any number of months. High conflict cases or cases with multiple, ongoing contested temporary issues can tend to linger longer than they should. Sometimes, cases take longer because they are complicated or involve sensitive or unique issues.

The earliest a divorce case can be concluded is 60 days after the Respondent has been served.  It is extremely rare for a divorce case to be completed at the 60-day mark, but even if a case were resolved earlier, the soonest a district court judge can sign a decree of divorce is 60 days following service of Respondent.  This 60-day period is called the cooling off period.

Initial Pleadings:  Petition, DRA, Proposed Parenting Plan, Proposed Child Support Worksheet

The Petition for Divorce is the initiating document in a KS Divorce. Every party in a divorce action is also required to file a Domestic Relations Affidavit, which is basically a snap-shot of your financial wherewithal; income, monthly expenses, creditors, and a listing of valuable property. If a divorce case involves children, there are additional documents that will be filed at the initiation of a case.  These documents include a Proposed Parenting Plan and a proposed Child Support Worksheet.  The proposed parenting plan is simply a document, which puts forth your proposals for custody and parenting time with the minor children.  In the majority of cases, parties are requesting and the court is ordering joint legal custody.

The proposed child support worksheet is a standardized worksheet which uses a series of entry values to calculate child support on behalf of the minor children.  These worksheets are typically generated by a uniform program and focus on the the parties’ incomes, the amount of parenting time exercised, and adjustments for payment of health and dental insurance premiums or work related child care. If either party is requesting spousal maintenance, i.e. alimony, a proposed spousal maintenance worksheet should also be filed calculating the proposed amount of maintenance to be paid.

Responsive Pleadings: Answer, DRA, Proposed Parenting Plan, Proposed Child Support Worksheet

Responsive pleadings are similar to the initial pleadings.  A Respondent files an Answer to Petitioner’s Petition and in many cases will file a Counter-Petition for Divorce, which also asks the Court for a divorce.  The Respondent must also file a Domestic Relations Affidavit and if there are children involved the Respondent must also file a Proposed Parenting Plan and a proposed Child Support Worksheet.  Either party may file motions for temporary orders asking the Court to issue temporary orders to govern the pendency of the action until the case is finalized.  Temporary orders can include temporary legal and physical custody orders, temporary parenting time orders and also temporary payment of child support and/or maintenance.

Resolution or Final Documents/Pleadings: Decree of Divorce, Separation and Property Settlement Agreement, Final Parenting Plan, Final Child Support Worksheet

The Decree of Divorce is the final order, which officially divorces the parties and incorporates the parties agreements or orders regarding division of the marital assets and debts, payment of maintenance, and in the case of children, incorporating agreements or orders regarding custody, parenting time and child support. For cases resolved without trial these agreements will be contained in a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement.  This document outlines all of the parties’ agreements with respect to dividing their property and debts, including real estate, personal property, retirement, credit card debt and so on. This is also where any agreements regarding spousal maintenance would be outlined.

The final agreed parenting plan is also filed with the court, and incorporated by the Decree as order of the Court. A final parenting plan must be adopted by the Court in the best interests of the minor child or children. A final child support worksheet is also filed and incorporated as final order by the Decree.  In many cases, a stipulated asset and debt division spreadsheet will be filed outlining an accounting for all of the parties’ assets and debts, and the manner in which those assets and debts have been divided and/or applied against each other to equalize the martial estate, and provide each property with an equitable portion thereof.

Contact the team at Fairbanks Law to learn more about the divorce process in Kansas.

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