Divorce & Family Law in Kansas and Missouri
Joseph, Hollander & Craft’s divorce and family law team is comprised of skilled divorce and family law attorneys dedicated to assertive and compassionate representation. We know domestic litigation can be an emotional and sensitive experience, and our goal is to provide you with a personal approach tailored to meet your needs. We will listen to you, provide an objective assessment of your situation, and create a plan to resolve your case on favorable terms.
With offices in Kansas City, Lawrence, Overland Park, Topeka, and Wichita, Joseph, Hollander & Craft’s divorce and family law attorneys help individuals and families all over the state of Kansas and the Greater Kansas City metro region. Our attorneys help resolve legal issues pertaining to divorce, annulment, legal separation, property division, custody, visitation, child support, guardianships, paternity, adoptions, child in need of care, and prenuptial agreements.
We are committed legal advisors dedicated to helping our clients reach favorable resolutions as quickly as possible. With commanding knowledge of Kansas laws and local procedures, we adeptly maneuver through motion practice, evidentiary hearings, and trials. When your financial future and your relationship with your children are at stake, we are caring advocates on your side. >>MEET THE TEAM
Divorce Laws in Kansas
The following is an overview of Kansas divorce laws. It is general information only and not legal advice. Each and every situation is different and you will need to call one of our local divorce attorneys for advice about what to do in your unique situation.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
In order to file for divorce, legal separation, or annulment in Kansas, one of the parties must be an “actual resident” of Kansas for at least sixty days before filing the divorce petition. If one party resides outside of Kansas, jurisdiction may be obtained over that person through their consent, by serving the person in Kansas, or through one of several “long-armjurisdiction” provisions. An action for divorce, annulment, or separate maintenance may be brought in the county where either party resides, or where service may be obtained on the respondent. If the petitioner is a resident of or stationed at a United States post or military reservation within the state, the action may be brought in any county adjacent to the post or reservation.
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE OR SEPARATE MAINTENANCE
The court can grant a divorce or legal separation based upon incompatibility, failure to perform a material marital duty or obligation (fault), or incompatibility by reason of mental illness or mental incapacity of one or both of the parties. By far, the most common basis for divorce or legal separation is incompatibility because it does not require proof of fault; it merely requires that the party seeking the divorce believes the parties are incompatible.
STARTING THE PROCESS
The divorce, legal separation, or annulment process begins when one party files a petition. The individual filing the petition is known as the petitioner and the other party is identified as the respondent. The petition will identify when and where the parties were married, if there are any minor children of the parties, if the parties have assets and debts subject to division by the court, and possibly other legal issues. A filing fee will be charged by the district court clerk upon filing the petition with the court.
Kansas law allows for the district court to issue ex parte temporary orders in divorce, legal separation, or annulment actions. Ex parte orders are issued when the court has been provided with only the petitioner’s basis for the temporary order provisions and the respondent’s input has not been considered. You may have heard the phrase, “The first to file wins.” This refers to the fact that the petitioner may obtain temporary orders from the court on issues such as which party is awarded the marital residence, which party is granted residency of the minor children, a parenting plan (visitation schedule), division of the parties assets and debts, child support, and spousal maintenance on an ex parte basis. However, these orders are temporary in nature and are subject to modification upon the respondent filing a motion to modify them. If the respondent files a motion to modify, the matter will be set for a hearing so that the court can consider both parties’ perspectives as to the appropriate order.
SERVING THE RESPONDENT
The person named as the respondent normally does not become a party to the action until they are served with copies of the summons, petition, and temporary order. The action is commenced against them when they receive this notice and the temporary order takes effect at that time. Service in Kansas may be obtained by having law enforcement or a special process server personally serve the respondent, through certified mail, by the respondent voluntarily entering their appearance and waiving formal service, and, in some circumstances, through publication in a area newspaper. Service must be accomplished by one of these formal means. It cannot be obtained by the petitioner providing the summons, petition, and temporary orders directly to the respondent.
COOLING OFF PERIOD
Ordinarily, the district court does not have the authority to grant a divorce until 60 days have elapsed since the filing of the petition. This waiting period is generally referred to at the “cooling off” period. A court may grant a divorce before 60 days have passed only in rare, special circumstances, your divorce attorney can provide more details on this option.
Although there is a statutory provision allowing the district court to order parties contemplating divorce into marriage counseling, it is rarely applied.
The divorce decree may award either party an allowance for future support, designated as spousal maintenance (sometimes referred to as alimony), as the court finds just, fair, and equitable. Maintenance may be ordered in periodic payments, a lump sum, a percentage of earnings, or on any other basis established by the court. In determining an award of spousal maintenance, the court will generally consider the length of the marriage, the parties’ needs and ability to pay, the earning capacity of each party, the ages of the parties, whether there are children of the marriage, and whether one party contributed to the education or career of the other party during the marriage. The court cannot enter an award of spousal maintenance exceeding 121 months of its own accord. Upon agreement of the parties, the court can enter an award of spousal maintenance exceeding 121 months. Kansas does not have formal guidelines for establishing spousal maintenance but Johnson, Douglas, and Shawnee Counties have established their own judicial guidelines that they follow and our quality divorce attorneys are extremely familiar/knowledgeable with all the different district guidelines in the state of Kansas.
Discovery is the process of gathering information and documents concerning the issues involved in the divorce. Each party can submit written discovery to the other party requiring the production of relevant case documents and may require the other party to answer written questions under oath regarding case issues. Either party may take the other party’s deposition or may depose other relevant witnesses. Not all cases require extensive discovery and those that do are generally cases involving larger marital estates or contested custody, residency, or parenting time disputes.
If the parties are unable to resolve all the issues in their case, remaining issues may be presented to the court by each individuals divorce lawyer for resolution. Each party may call witnesses to testify and may introduce exhibits to support his or her position. The court will make a finding on each contested issue, and the court’s decision will be included in the decree of divorce to all parties.
DECREE OF DIVORCE
The Journal Entry of Judgment and Decree of Divorce is the document that dissolves the bonds of matrimony and grants the divorce. The decree generally includes final parenting plan provisions establishing legal custody, residency and parenting time, child support provisions, maintenance, division of the parties’ marital estate, and other issues presented to the court for determination. Once the decree is filed with the district court clerk, the divorce is finalized. Although the parenting plan is commonly referred to as a “permanent parenting plan,” the court retains continuing jurisdiction over all child-related issues (legal custody, residency, parenting time, and child support) until the child is 18 years of age or later in some child support situations after the divorce has been finalized.
JHC’s Family Law Team
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Julia A. Craft
Ms. Craft’s family law practice includes divorce, child custody, child support, parenting time, spousal maintenance, premarital agreements, separation agreements, guardianships, child in need of care proceedings, and juvenile offenders. Ms. Craft is admitted to practice before the Kansas Supreme Court and all other Kansas courts.
M. Kristine Lawless
Family law dominates Ms. Lawless’s practice, including divorce, property settlement agreements, premarital agreements, paternity actions, and maintenance, with a focus on child custody matters, parenting time, and child support. Ms. Lawless also has extensive experience as criminal defense attorney consisting of complex federal and state cases.
Ms. Smith-Woertz practice is concentrated in family law with an emphasis on divorce and child custody matters. Ms. Smith-Woertz is admitted to practice before the Kansas Supreme Court, all other Kansas courts and the United States District Court for the District of Kansas.
Boyd R. McPherson
Mr. McPherson’s family law practice includes divorce, child custody, child support, parenting time, spousal maintenance, premarital agreements, separation agreements, child in need of care, and juvenile offenders. His criminal law practice consists of defense of persons charged with crimes in state and municipal courts.
Shawna R. Miller
Christine Pina Rosengreen
Ms. Rosengreen practices in all areas of family law, including but not limited to, divorce, paternity, modification, guardianship, Guardian ad Litem and adoption. A life-long advocate for children and families, she is a Certified Family Law Mediator for the State of Missouri.