Kansas Divorce Laws & How To File (2023 Guide) – Forbes Advisor


Published: Nov 23, 2023, 8:48am

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More than 6,000 Kansas divorces occurred in 2019, according to the state’s Department of Health. If you are ending your own marriage, you need to understand the rules for a Kansas divorce so you can be prepared for the process of ending your union.

This guide explains the details of how to get a divorce in Kansas so you can move forward with your life.

Who Can File for Divorce in Kansas?

Kansas has residency requirements for divorce, as all states do.

This means you can get a divorce in Kansas only if you or your spouse lived in the state as a resident for a period of time before filing. Specifically, either you or your spouse must have been a Kansas resident for at least 60 days immediately before the divorce petition is filed.

Residents include members of the military or who have been stationed at a Kansas military post or reservation for at least 60 days.

What Are the Grounds to File for Divorce in Kansas?

You cannot end your marriage in Kansas without listing grounds for divorce. This means you must list a legal reason for divorcing when you file your divorce paperwork. Kansas recognizes fault grounds, which means one party is to blame, as well as no-fault grounds, which means there are simply irreconcilable differences between the spouses.

The grounds for divorce that you can list in Kansas include the following:

  • Incompatibility
  • Failure to fulfill a material marital duty or obligation (this includes adultery, habitual drunkenness, cruelty and more)
  • Incompatibility due to mental illness or mental incompetence.

The last ground related to mental illness or incompetence requires that one or both spouses have been confined to a mental institution for a period of two years (this does not have to be continuous) or that a court determined at some point that one or both spouses was mentally ill or incapacitated while they were in a mental institution.

The judge in the divorce case must appoint three doctors to assess mental fitness and determine the likelihood of recovery and at least two of the three must determine that there is a poor prognosis for recovering from the mental illness.

How to File for Divorce in Kansas

You must file for divorce in the district court where either you or your spouse live, or where the non-filing spouse can be served with divorce papers. You can find a map of Kansas district courts on the Kansas Judicial Branch website to identify the correct court to file your case.

You need to decide between a contested or an uncontested divorce and then submit forms to the court to get the process started. These include:

You can obtain a packet of forms that you need for divorce with children and divorce without children from the Kansas Judicial Council website. More forms are required in a divorce when children are involved.

If you are representing yourself, you also need to complete a Self-Represented Litigant Certification Form. And you need to pay a filing or docket fee, which is $173 statewide although your local district court may impose an additional surcharge.

Serving Divorce Paperwork in Kansas

You must serve your spouse with divorce papers in a Kansas divorce. This means your spouse is provided with official notification that proceedings to end the marriage have been initiated.

There are a number of ways to satisfy the service of process requirement in Kansas including the following:

  • Completing a Request for Service form to request the sheriff serve your spouse with papers
  • Sending the document return receipt requested to their home
  • Leaving the documents at your spouse’s home and mailing a notice (return receipt requested) that the papers were left at their home
  • Leaving the documents at your spouse’s home or with an adult who also lives there
  • Getting your spouse’s signature on a Voluntary Entry of Appearance
  • Publishing notification in a newspaper or other publication with the permission of the court if you cannot locate your spouse

Your spouse must respond when served and must answer the court so divorce proceedings can move forward. If your spouse ignores the requirement to provide an answer and appear in court, you may be able to pursue a default divorce, which means the divorce proceeds without their input.

Contested or Uncontested Divorce

Kansas allows for both contested and uncontested divorces.

A contested divorce is one in which the court is asked to decide on important issues such as child custody or property division. It is more expensive, more stressful and may lead to worse outcomes since the court is imposing a plan on you and your spouse.

An uncontested divorce is one in which you and your partner make your own decisions about issues raised by your divorce and draft your own settlement agreement. It can be less expensive and less acrimonious to get an uncontested divorce and everyone may end up happier with the outcome.

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What Is the Waiting Period for a Kansas Divorce?

Unless you request an emergency divorce, your divorce hearing will typically not take place until at least 60 days after you have filed for a divorce in Kansas. However, you do have the option to request an emergency divorce. To do so, you petition the court, and the court sets a hearing to determine if an emergency divorce is appropriate.

The hearing on the emergency divorce can’t take place until at least 21 days after your spouse was served with divorce papers unless they were in agreement that you could move forward more quickly. Both spouses are also entitled to be notified of the hearing at least seven days prior to the time it occurs.

At the hearing, you must convince the court you need your divorce quickly. If you succeed, your marriage could be dissolved right away.

Get Legal Help With a Divorce in Kansas

Kansas divorce can be complicated and it is best to have an experienced attorney to guide you throughout the process. Contact a lawyer as soon as you suspect your marriage needs to come to an end so you can get advice on protecting your rights at each stage of a Kansas divorce.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How is marital property divided in a Kansas divorce?

Kansas is an equitable distribution state. If you ask the court to divide your property for you, the court will do so in a way that’s fair but not necessarily a 50/50 split. The court considers many factors, including each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, in deciding how much property each spouse should get and who should be held responsible for marital debts. You also have the option to pursue an uncontested divorce and come to an agreement with your spouse about how to divide up marital property.

Can you get alimony in a Kansas divorce?

One spouse may be required to pay alimony or spousal support either temporarily, for a short duration, or permanently after a Kansas divorce. The court may order alimony when it is appropriate based on an earning disparities, the length of the marriage and related factors. You can also negotiate directly with your spouse on the issue of alimony and come to an agreement on spousal support in an uncontested divorce.

How long does a Kansas divorce take?

You will not be able to get a divorce hearing in Kansas until at least 60 days after filing for divorce. However, if you petition the court for an emergency divorce, you could get a hearing in as little as 21 days after you file (or less if your spouse agrees). Both spouses are entitled to seven days notice before the hearing. You need to convince the court of the need for a swift divorce and, if successful, your marriage could be dissolved right away.

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Christy Bieber is a personal finance and legal writer with more than a decade of experience. She earned her JD from UCLA School of Law and was an adjunct professor at the start of her career, teaching paralegal studies and related courses. In addition to writing for the web, she has also designed educational courses and written textbooks focused on a variety of legal subjects.

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