Frequently Asked Questions
At Jeffers Law Office, Mark strongly believes that the best client is one who understands his rights. He prides himself on explaining the facts and law of the case to each and every one of his clients, taking the time to make sure that they understand all possible outcomes and options. He has put together a list of some of the questions that he is most frequently asked by his clients. If you would like further information about any of these issues or another Kansas family law topic, contact his office.
How do I establish Kansas residency?
Kansas law requires that either party actually lives in Kansas for 60 days prior to filing a petition for divorce. If your spouse has lived in Kansas for longer than 60 days, then it is not necessary for you to move to Kansas as well.
What are the grounds for divorce in Kansas?
There are three grounds for divorce in Kansas: (1) incompatibility, or no-fault; (2) failure to perform a material marital duty; and (3) incompatibility by reason of mental illness.
Is there a waiting period to finalize a divorce in Kansas?
Yes. Except in emergency situations, petition for divorce cannot be granted for at least 60 days after it was filed.
Can I obtain court orders when filing a petition for divorce?
Yes. When you file a petition for divorce, you can request temporary orders for child custody, child support, spousal support and restraining orders.
How is child support calculated in Kansas?
Child support in Kansas is based on state-wide guidelines that look primarily at (1) the gross monthly incomes of each parent and (2) the work-related daycare and health insurance costs for the children. Courts may consider other factors when making child support determinations.
What is the difference between a divorce and an annulment?
A divorce terminates or dissolves a marriage. An annulment is a legal declaration that no marriage existed. Kansas law does not place a time limit on the length of marriage to determine if an annulment should be granted.
What is legal separation?
A legal separation is a way for a couple to live separately without dissolving the marriage. The parties are still legally married under a legal separation. Under Kansas law, this is known as a “separate maintenance” action. The grounds for a separation are the same as a divorce. All issues related to a separation, including child custody and support, alimony and property division, are handled in the same way as in a divorce.
How do I establish child support and custody if I was never married to my child’s father or mother?
Child custody and support can be set up by establishing paternity, which involves a DNA test to determine the biological father of a child. Paternity is governed by the Kansas Parentage Act. A paternity action can be brought by the child or by any person on behalf of the child. Once paternity has been established, child support, custody and parenting time can be determined.
Does Kansas recognize common law marriage?
Yes. Under Kansas law, common law marriage occurs when both parties have (1) the capacity to make an agreement to marry; (2) a present agreement to be married; and (3) a holding out to the public as husband and wife. There is no requirement that the parties live together for any period of time.
How much will a divorce cost?
Divorce costs will depend on the particular facts of your case, including whether children are involved. The total cost of your divorce includes not only your attorney’s fees, but also court costs, therapists, mediators, psychologists, Guardians Ad Litem (an attorney for your child), forensic accountants, and other experts. Most attorneys charge an hourly rate, with a retainer, or minimum fee, payable in advance at the beginning of your case. The most common court cost is the filing fee paid at the time of the filing of your case ($197.50 in Johnson County, Kansas). The primary factor that determines how much your divorce will cost is how adversarial your situation is. If you and your spouse are able to cooperate and agree on the issues in your divorce, you will be able to avoid many of the fees associated with a divorce. For example, if you can agree to voluntarily exchange financial documents such as income tax returns and account statements, you will not have to pay your attorneys to fight about these issues in court. If you can agree on a custody and parenting schedule, that will minimize costs for therapists, psychologists and other experts who may be retained to argue in support of custody and visitation rights.
How can I save money on a divorce?
You can save money on a divorce by doing as much as you can on your own, without involving your attorney. This includes communicating directly with your spouse — rather than through attorneys — and cooperating in obtaining financial documents such as income tax returns, paycheck, account statements, and earnings statements (paycheck stubs). You can download the required financial form, the Kansas Domestic Relations Affidavit, online, and submit it to your attorney. Finally, you can save money on your divorce by not letting your emotions drive your decision-making process. Remember that it is not about winning, but about getting the best possible results for you based on the facts of your case. Don’t pay your attorney to fight over things that don’t really matter; it is generally not worth spending hundreds or thousands of dollars to fight over who gets the pots and pans.
Why do I need an attorney?
In many divorce cases, the issues may be complex and require a thorough understanding of a wide variety of laws. From tax consequences to classifying assets and debts appropriately, a licensed attorney has the skill and knowledge to handle each aspect of your divorce case. Family law is a complicated subject area, with entire law school courses taught on different aspects of family law. Your lawyer will be familiar with state statutes, Supreme Court rules, local District Court rules, local bar association guidelines, state-wide child support guidelines, state and federal appellate court decisions, and other laws and regulations. Most lay people are not familiar with these resources, and may not even know where to find them. Not knowing the law puts you at a disadvantage in court, particularly if your spouse has hired an attorney. Under the law, people who represent themselves are expected to know the law and procedures, and are not to be given an advice or any advantages by the judge. In most cases, a person who represents himself does not know what their rights are, or how to proceed in specific situations — which ultimately leads to losing important issues. Consulting an attorney can help you know and understand your legal rights, and can lead to a more favorable result.