As divorce becomes more common and socially acceptable, more people are filing for uncontested divorce. In reality, most contested divorces eventually settle, and people see real value in agreeing to the terms of a divorce upfront. An uncontested divorce can save couples substantial time, money, and energy by avoiding a long and drawn out court process.
This article will explain the nature of an uncontested divorce and Kansas uncontested divorce law. If you still have any questions after reading this article or would like to file for an uncontested divorce, you should consult with an experienced divorce attorney.
Uncontested Divorce in Kansas Defined
An uncontested Kansas divorce is essentially a simplified divorce process which allows spouses who agree on all of the issues in their divorce to expedite their divorce filings.Unlike many states, Kansas does not have a specific uncontested divorce process. Spouses who want to file for an uncontested divorce must file for a regular divorce, which will then become categorized by the court as uncontested.
In Kansas, uncontested divorce is often referred to as a divorce by agreement. This is because the hallmark of an uncontested divorce is agreement of the spouses on all of the issues in the divorce. In a contested divorce, the presiding judge will have to rule on many different issues such as child support and property division. In an uncontested divorce, however, the spouses themselves decide what the terms of the divorce will be and the judge will then review and approve the spouses’ agreement.
Requirements for Seeking a Kansas Uncontested Divorce
To file for uncontested divorce in Kansas, the filing spouses must meet certain requirements. Any questions about these requirements can be answered by an experienced Kansas divorce attorney or family lawyer.
Spouses seeking an uncontested divorce must first meet the divorce residency requirement. No Kansas court may consider a divorce petition unless at least one of the spouses has resided within the state of Kansas for at least sixty days prior to filing for divorce.
Next, the spouses must prove that they have a reason to get divorced. This is known as the “grounds” for divorce.Kansas law has one at-fault divorce ground and one no-fault divorce ground. Either may be used for an uncontested divorce, but at-fault divorces are more likely to end up contested. The at-fault ground in Kansas is failure of one spouse to perform a marital duty or obligation. The Kansas no-fault divorce ground is incompatibility.
Finally, the spouses must agree on the terms of the divorce. A written divorce agreement is referred to by most attorneys as a “property settlement agreement,” however, Kansas law refers to it as a “separation agreement.” The two terms are interchangeable.
On Spousal Support and Separation Agreements
When spouses sit down to discuss the terms of their divorce, it is often beneficial for the spouses to sign a legal separation agreement. A separation agreement is NOT a formal divorce. A separation agreement is a contract between spouses that lays out their agreement and terms of their separation. A fully completed separation agreement can serve as the basis for an uncontested divorce, and may be helpful in filling out the required divorce paperwork. Prior to signing any separation agreement (or any contract with your spouse), you should have an experienced attorney review the terms of the contract for you.
Prior to entering into a separation agreement, the parties must exchange disclosure of relevant financial information unless the couple agrees to waive such disclosure in writing.While the agreement does not have to be in writing, it should generally be writtenso that there is no confusion about what the terms of the agreement are. A fully-completed separation agreement should contain agreements on each of the following issues:
- Division of the property the couples shared (this would include the marital residence, vehicles, and pets);
- Division of any debt obligations between the couple jointly;
- The effect of any tax consequences of the divorce;
- Spousal support (also known as alimony or spousal maintenance);
- Payment of attorneys’ fees and costs; and
- If applicable, child custody, visitation and parenting plans, and child support.
If the agreement addresses child support, the amount of child supportmust adhere to the Kansas Supreme Court’s child support guidelines.Court must find the agreement to be valid, just, and equitable. The court will generally accept any agreement the couple presents; however, provisions regarding the custody, support, or education of minor children are judicially altered the most frequently. This is because, by law, the court must always pay special attention to the best interests of any children involved.
The Process for Filing for an Uncontested Divorce in Kansas
Once you and your spouse have decided to file for an uncontested divorce, the general flow of the process is as follows:
- This step is optional, but you should begin by consulting a family law attorney who can either answer any questions that you may have, or who can help you file your divorce paperwork properly.
- If you are filing for divorce without the assistance of an attorney, you should first work with your spouse to create a separation agreement that is fair and resolves the issues in the divorce.
- Next, prepare the required divorce paperwork. While the Kansas courts do not have a unified set of divorce forms for use across the state, the divorce forms on the Shawnee County Court’s website are good samples.
- Once you are ready to file for divorce, you must file the divorce paperwork in the county in which either spouse resides.
- The filing spouse should file a petition for dissolution of marriage. The petition needs to be “verified,”which means it must be notarized. Fortunately, Kansas’s statute explicitly tell divorcees what information they need to submit to the court in K.S.A. § 23-37,209.
- Once filed, the responding spouse should waive service of process by signing a notarized service waiver. This waiver must also signed by a separate witness.
- Wait! 60 days must pass before the court hears your divorce petition. At the final hearing, the court may ask to review evidence to ensure that the separation agreement is fair. If satisfied, the court will approve your divorce.
Note: This article is not legal advice. Please consult a lawyer for your specific situation.
- K.S.A. § 23-2703.
- K.S.A. § 23-2701.
- K.S.A. 23-2712.
- K.S.A. § 60-607.